Boston Bruins Key to Drawing More Powerplays


Mar 14, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) skates with the puck against pressure from Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Daniel Winnik (26) during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

An X-factor the Bruins sorely lacked last season and need more of this year, especially when down late by a goal or during tough stretches in games where a momentum shift could help sway the tide, is the ability to draw penalties.

More from Bruins News

The B’s finished next to last in powerplay opportunities last year, beating out New Jersey by just one chance with 213. In a league favoring more speed and skill since a series of rules like obstruction penalties and elimination of two-line offsides followed the 2004-05 lockout — and especially for a team that barely missed the playoffs last year — even just garnering a few more powerplays at key times could be the difference between sneaking back into the post-season dance or being sent packing to the golf links again.

“Drawing penalties – and not taking penalties – is a skill and if a player has a knack for sending other guys to the box while not taking any of his own, that is a nice hidden advantage that can sneak under the radar and maybe lead to a couple of extra goals over the course of a season,” Adam Gretz posted for CBS Sports.

Often it’s that x-factor talented player who has the speed, skill or both that forces a penalty when a team needs it most. Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been trying to bring a blend of skill, size, speed and grit to the team’s lineup, along with more sacrifice, aggressive defense at the blue line and a quicker transition and forecheck to create offense. A more exciting, up-tempo game also favors improvement in the penalty drawing department.

The B’s roster changes to date may be setting the stage for more powerplays.

Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner faces off against Penguins in March 14, 2015 game in Pittsburgh. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

To start, the Bruins will have the advantage of full seasons from David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner, who only played 46 and 29 games respectively last year and both are good at drawing penalties because of their speed and skill. According to Behind the Net, Pastrnak tied for the team lead with crafty Brad Marchand last season in drawing 1.1 penalties per game. But whereas Marchand also took 1.6 penalties a game, Pastrnak only took 0.8. Meanwhile Spooner drew 0.8 penalties a game in 2013-2014, and led the B’s last year in penalty differential per game drawing 0.4 while averaging 0 calls against.

Using speed to shake players or juking around them is key. “The first thing is speed,” former NHL referee Paul Stewart told the Boston Globe last year. “There’s more concentration by the officials on hooking, holding, obstruction-type fouls. The speed factor brings into account why some teams are used to standing around and not being quick to impede progress.”

Now that he’s healthy and able to play a full season, David Krejci (0.9 drawn in 2013-2014) should also help in drawing more penalties through his shiftiness with the puck. Torey Krug is another speedy, skilled player who will draw some calls.

Furthermore, newcomers Matt Beleskey (0.8 drawn calls, although 0.7 taken per game last year) and Jimmy Hayes (0.6 drawn, 0.1 taken) were decent at drawing penalties last year through the high battle they bring in front of the net and striving to outwork opponents. If the B’s can also put together a good checking high energy 4th line that cycles the puck well and keeps it in the attacking zone for long periods of time they may be able to draw out a few more by tiring opponents out. Some of Chris Kelly’s and Maxime Talbot’s lines have done it at times in the past, and placing them with a younger energy guy like Brian Ferlin may rekindle that spark.

Tough guy import Zac Rinaldo has drawn penalties the last couple seasons by getting under players’ skins, but the problem is he always takes more than he draws. Witness the 2.1 penalties he took per game last year compared to the 1.3 he drew, while in 2013-14 he drew 1.7 but took a whopping 3 a game. The B’s will need him to focus on checking and becoming a more disciplined agitator.

Apr 2, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) and Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar (21) battle for the puck in the second period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If 22-year old AHL burner Colin Miller makes the team, he could also potentially help the B’s get a few more powerplays. He won the fastest skater award in the AHL all-star skills competition and led the league in goals by a defenseman last season. Looking ahead a couple years, the B’s will also have speedster draft sleeper Zachary Senyshyn flying down the right wing if all goes to plan.

Live Feed

2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup
2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup /

Puck Prose

  • Former NY Islanders earn spots on 'Historic 100' list of Boston Bruins players Eyes On Isles
  • The Boston Bruins announced an incredible All-Centennial teamPuck Prose
  • Former NY Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara finds a new way to push himselfEyes On Isles
  • The Boston Bruins are bringing back another old friendPuck Prose
  • The new faces on the Bruins heading into the 2023-24 seasonPuck Prose
  • Alexander Khokhlachev is another skilled player who has done well in Providence and could help the B’s as a depth player both in drawing penalties and in the shootout, where they have also struggled mightily (4-10 last year). He was one of the few shooters that helped get one of those precious extra points last year.

    Ultimately part of the success may depend on defensive-minded coach Claude Julien’s buy-in of a little more offense and loosening the reins of the incoming speedy and skilled young guns, as the B’s have not been a penalty-drawing team for several years now. But their lineup has also been typically bigger and slower in recent years and hasn’t had the type of speed train it has coming along until now.

    More from Causeway Crowd