BOSTON – It’s long been said that special teams are the key postseason success.
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, left, deflects a shot by Philadelphia Flyers' Darroll Powe, right, as Bruins' Gregory Campbell, center, defends during the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek) |
While the Bruins made it out of the first round against Montreal without a power play goal and then scored only two in their second round match-up with the Flyers, the other part of the B's special teams equation has been going strong.
Boston enters the Eastern Conference Semi-final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning ranked tenth in postseason penalty killing with an 80.5 percent kill rate.
However, the Bruins have yet to face Tampa Bay’s power play.
The Lightning have scored 12 man-advantage goals this postseason and are ranked third overall with a 26.7 percent success rate.
The Lightning power play is one of the key issues the Bruins are focusing on and B’s head coach Claude Julien continues to stress the importance of penalty killing as the Bruins prepare for Saturday's series opener.
“Well, discipline is always going to be the key word that every team is always going to use in the playoffs," Julien said. "But there’s going to be penalties. In a series there always is.
"And our PK is going to have to come up big for us and we know that,”
The Lightning’s dozen power play goals were scored by seven different players, with Martin St. Louis leading the way with three. Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Pavel Kubina have two each, while three other Lightning players have contributed one goal each with a man-advantage.
“Their top guys are some of the top players in the league. So when you have that combination it’s obviously going to work,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said after the team’s media availability at TD Garden today.
“They always had a power play that was, not to say it wasn’t structured, but their parts...move in and out. It’s tough to defend that.”
Tampa Bays might prove especially tough to defend considering the possibility that Patrice Bergeron, arguably the B's best penalty killer, could be sidelined for at least the beginning of the series with a concussion.
“His loss is felt in a lot of areas, but he was obviously big for the penalty kill," said Campbell. "He was taking a lot of draws for us and, as you know, starting out in the defensive zone and winning that draw is key on the penalty kill."
Should Bergeron not be able to play, the Bruins have plenty of eager penalty killers ready to step up, but Coach Julien has stayed away from using top line center David Krejci on the penalty kill in order to roll the top line out in the key minute following a special teams scenario.
Should Julien wish to stay the course and keep Krejci off the PK, he also mentioned double-shifting Campbell and forward Daniel Paille to take some extra time off the clock.
“When I say double shift—start it, get a rest and go back out there again -- and maybe do a little bit more of it. So we are going to try to utilize our personnel as best we can in regards to that, make sure the penalty kill stays good,” Julien noted yesterday.
With Tampa being a team that consistently throws pucks at the net, Boston’s shot blocking tendencies and play of goaltender Tim Thomas, a Vezina Trophy candidate, will be key in stopping the power play surge.
“I think the one thing you don’t want to be is running around against this team because they will expose you on the power play. They move the puck quickly and like to jam pucks at the net,” Julien said today.
“So they have skill, there is no doubt there but they also have that killer instinct of taking those pucks to the net.”