The Boston Bruins are hanging on to a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. A lot of credit for that success lies squarely on the shoulders of the B’s special teams units.
The Boston Bruins will be getting back on the ice after the CBA mandated bye week on Sunday. Somehow, the Black and Gold are still holding on to the third slot in the Atlantic Division. While the introduction of Bruce Cassidy has certainly helped matters this season, a lot of credit should go to the Bruins special teams.
The Bruins special teams seemed to be an ugly work in progress as the season began. The B’s found themselves near the bottom in one or the other categories. As the season has progressed, the Black and Gold have picked up the pace while on the power-play or the penalty kill. Now, the Bruins power-play is something to fear, and the penalty kill team is turning into a brick wall.
At the moment, the Boston Bruins have the best penalty kill unit in the NHL. The Bruins stop 86.3% of power-play attempts on them. The B’s have been especially tenacious since Cassidy took over the helm last week. They stopped both San Jose power-plays, and two out of three from the Canucks.
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The Bruins have had trouble against Montreal in the past when it came to being a man down. The Habs would draw a penalty at a bad time, and the Canadiens would find a way to score. This time around, the B’s stonewalled Montreal all six times.
A lot of credit has to go to Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The 39-year old Slovakian monolith has been putting up great defensive numbers for the team. While he has slowed down a step or two, his experience has helped him read into plays and in shutting them down.
Patrice Bergeron is also been key to the Bruins success there. While his offensive numbers haven’t been great, his presence on the penalty kill has certainly frustrated opposing teams this year.
Then there is Brad Marchand, who will find a way to score short-handed if given any time and space. Marchand is currently tied for the NHL lead with three short-handed tallies this year. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s finding ways to take the puck away from the other team.
At the start of the season, the Boston Bruins had the absolute worst power-play unit in the league. Dead last. It was so bad, you almost had to wonder if the Bruins would decline penalties committed by the other team.
The Bruins power-play was a work in progress. As the season progressed, they got better. The Bruins started putting the B’s most dangerous people on the ice with the man advantage. They started to score PPGs, and they slowly began to climb out of the basement. Boston has put up 20 power play goals in the last 18 games, and they’re looking to keep moving up the ladder.
The Bruins have certainly been consistent with the man advantage. Boston is currently on an eight game streak of having scored a power play goal. They’ve put in a PPG every game in the month of February, and they’re becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Currently, the Bruins are in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring while up a player. They’re 15th in the league, scoring on 20.1% of their power-play opportunities. That is a remarkable improvement from their sub-10 percent level just a few months ago. The Bruins are now just half a percentage point out of cracking the top 10 for power-play goals.
Again, the usual suspects can be called into play. Bergeron. Marchand. David Pastrnak and David Krejci. But the Bruins are also getting secondary support from players like Frank Vatrano and Torey Krug.
The Boston Bruins are looking like they’ll break their two year slump and make the postseason. If they pull it off, they’ll have to thank Tuukka Rask and the special teams units for making it happen.