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Julien says Bruins' power play is getting better

Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 8:06 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Julien says Bruins' power play is getting better
Boston's power play was 0-for-6 in Game 1 and 5-for-67 in the playoffs, but coach Claude Julien is pleased what he saw in the series opener against Vancouver. 
VANCOUVER -- What do the sales tax of Massachusetts and the power play of the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup Playoffs have in common? Both are pretty close to 7 percent right now.

The sales tax is locked in at 6.25 percent, but the Bruins' power play dipped to 7.5 percent during the postseason after it went 0-for-6 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night. Since scoring twice in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins are 1-for-20 on the power play.

However, Boston coach Claude Julien couldn't be more pleased with his power play right now. As a matter of fact, he thinks it's even better than the power play of the Canucks, who have scored on 25.8 percent of their chances in the playoffs.

"It's amazing how just because of how it's been before, it's still being kind of questioned today," Julien said Thursday. "I think our power play was very good last night in moving the puck and creating some chances and was even better than Vancouver's. We had more scoring chances than Vancouver did on the power play. If we're going to criticize ours, we should criticize theirs at this stage of the playoffs."

A big reason why Julien was happy with his special teams was because the Canucks also went 0-for-6 with the man-advantage in Game 1.

"The way I've looked at it, is that both power plays start from scratch in this series," Julien said. "Right now, we're dead even. I thought our penalty kill did a great job against a power play that is supposedly so potent."

The Bruins didn't score a power-play goal Wednesday, but they did show they could be close to breaking through. They fired 12 power-play shots on goaltender Roberto Luongo -- including eight during a four-minute power play in the first period.

They also failed to convert during an extended 5-on-3 early in the second period, but they had four quality chances on it. When the power play is in a rut like this, they're taking it as a positive.

"I thought the power play, even though it didn't capitalize, created a lot of chances and gave us a lot momentum," forward Chris Kelly said. "They moved the puck around extremely well. It was just inches that kept it from going in sometimes."

While the results haven't been there, the power play has shown signs of life since Julien decided to use 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of the net midway through the East Final. In Game 1, Luongo had his view obstructed consistently by Chara and made a few of his saves at the last possible instant as he looked around the big man, not over him.

The Canucks decided later during Game 1 they couldn't move Chara so they weren't going to try. If Chara gets his way, perhaps it's only a matter of time before his massive screen pays dividends for the Bruins. Chara, who hasn't spent much time as a forward during his career, even deflected one shot on net during a power play.

Once he gets comfortable, pucks might start going off his stick and into the net.

"There's not much not to like about Zdeno Chara when you have him on your team," Julien said. "On the power play, he's given us a different look. I thought he did a pretty good job. When you get put in that position, there's always things that you better yourself at. He's moving around pretty good at trying to be a screen in front and also not trying to get sucked into penalties.

"They were pretty hard on him yesterday at times. He just got back up and did his job. I anticipate he'll only get better at that position as we use him there."

The new strategy with Chara down low and the scoring chances being generated have the Bruins believing they're close to breaking through. But if they don't, they have complete faith in their power play shutting down a power play Julien believes is the second-best one in this series.

"We have to stick with it," defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. "I thought we had good chances. When the puck's not going in, you have to make sure the next one's going in. With 'Z' in front, we have to put even more shots on net."

"Our PK has always been there for us, and we know it will continue to be," forward Mark Recchi said. "They've got a great power play on the other side and the guys did a terrific job. The power play would like to take some of the pressure off those guys."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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