Bruins

With a 5-forward system, an already lethal Bruins power play could be even better

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

When it comes to the Bruins' power play — "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" has been the usual mantra.

As cliched as such a saying is, the Bruins haven't had to severely augment their man advantage in 2021, even with their blue-line QB in Torey Krug now off in St. Louis.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that the B's still have some lethal tools in their arsenal when the opposition has a skater in the sin bin — whether it be Patrice Bergeron at the bumper, Brad Marchand along the right-side boards and David Pastrnak back in his usual spot at the left circle.

The addition of Nick Ritchie in a netfront role has added another dynamic to Boston's PP1 unit, with the power forward already tallying four goals and recording seven total points on the man advantage thanks to his knack for planting himself near the blue paint for tips and rebounds. Ritchie's ability to redirect the puck off of a quick passing sequences down low has also collapsed plenty of PK structures — such as on this sequence against the Flyers last Wednesday, in which Ritchie had Philly scrambling with this quick feed back to Bergeron in the bumper.

With Bergeron, Marchand, Ritchie and now Pastrnak back in the fold, Boston's man advantage remains one of the most feared special-teams crew in the NHL, with the B's cashing in on a third of their power-play bids (12 of 36) through 11 games this season.

Even with all of the usual suspects carving up defenses in their regular roles, it's still an awfully impressive feat — not just because that level of production hasn't dipped so far with Krug out of the picture, but because Boston has rotated a number of other skaters in Krug's regular spot up high on the blue line.

While the keys to PP1 were handed to Matt Grzelcyk to open the 2021 season, injuries have forced Cassidy to shuffle up his grouping — with Charlie McAvoy also earning a healthy amount of looks with the top unit, along with David Krejci in an intriguing, if not unconventional, five-forward setup.

So, with Grzelcyk expected to return from a four-game absence on Wednesday against the Rangers, who does Cassidy turn to first when it comes to rounding out that top power-play unit?

Based on the early returns, it's a good problem for Cassidy and his staff to have — as the trio of Grzelcyk, McAvoy and Krejci have all served admirably in their roles, and each offer a bit of a different dynamic in power-play situations. But when it comes to maximizing the offensive capabilities of that PP1 unit, Cassidy might be finally inclined to see what kind of damage a grouping of Krejci-Pastrnak-Marchand-Bergeron-Ritchie can do against an opposing defense.

So far, the results have been awfully encouraging.