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Power Play Finding its Way

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins – Although the Bruins head into the 2012-13 season with the same core group as last year, a coaching staff unchanged and reliable systems, one element of their game that has received an unwanted amount of flack in the past is their power play.

Although loaded with ample talent and scoring, the B’s man-advantage finished 2011-12 ranked 15th in the NHL at 17.2-percent – something that the Bruins coaching staff knew needed to be addressed in the offseason.

“We had done a lot of that over the course of the summer,” Head Coach Claude Julien told media early on in training camp, referring to tweaks made to the power play. “When we had a little bit more time, we kept working on it.”

Throughout training camp, the Black & Gold consistently worked on improving the power play, and took that into Saturday’s opener against the New York Rangers – getting a chance to showcase the new PP units just 19 seconds into the game.

The first unit features the addition of David Krejci manning one point, with Zdeno Chara as his partner up top, Milan Lucic in the net-front positions, Nathan Horton in the slot and Tyler Seguin quarterbacking the group. Gregory Campbell’s gritty play also lands him a spot rotating with Lucic in front of the net, and Rich Peverley can alternate with Krejci.

“I thought David’s [near] goal, looking at the replay, of course it’s inconclusive, you can’t see where the puck is. But to everybody’s eyes the puck is in the net, so more than likely it was a goal, so that’s a goal right there on six [power play] occasions at that point,” Coach Julien said following practice on Sunday at TD Garden, referring to Krejci nearly scoring on the man-advantage. The center was robbed by Henrik Lundqvist, who flashed his glove and instantly snatched the puck out of the air as it was heading over the goal line.

“And you saw the Zdeno great opportunity that he had and a couple of pucks that got through.”

Though Boston was 0-for-7 with the extra man agains the Rangers, Krejci was pleased with the first go-round with the revamped power play, and will be looking for the B’s to keep improving from one game to the next.

“I think we had some great looks, some good chances,” he told media following Sunday’s practice. “We didn’t score but we carried some momentum for our team for the next shift. It felt pretty good.”

“We had lots of chances,” echoed Krejci’s teammate on the PP, Nathan Horton. “[The Rangers’] goalie [Henrik Lundqvist] came up big on a couple plays. I think both units made some good plays and, obviously, it showed - we didn’t score, but we had lots of chances.”

The second unit features newcomer Dougie Hamilton, who looked comfortable mirroring Dennis Seidenberg in the point position, along with special teams mainstays Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and Chris Bourque, whose PP work down in Providence earned him a look.

“The thing that I took out of last night is that our power play had some chances, it didn’t take away any momentum and those kind of things are good positive things that happened,” said Julien.

“We still want to score and we’ll still work on that, but you’re playing against one of the best goaltenders in the league [in Lundqvist], too. He made some pretty important saves to keep that puck out on the power play.

“We’re going to keep working on it, what was positive was great, but keep working on it so we can get the results, as well.”

On Monday, the Bruins will face off against Winnipeg Jets’ netminder Ondrej Pavelec, hoping that their special teams can do more than just generate the chances.

And Horton is ready for any doubt about the B’s power play to subside into news of the past.

“So close to scoring, but those are going to come, it’s the first game. We definitely need our power play going this year. It’s going to be huge for us.”

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