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Stanley Cup Final

Bruins must find power-play spark in Game 6 of Cup Final

Correcting entries with man-advantage key to extending series against Blues

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Through 22 games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins have a 33.3 percent conversion rate on the power play, far above the next closest team, the long-eliminated Vegas Golden Knights at 27.6 percent over seven games. But of late, that number has been dropping for the Bruins, and it's a problem.

After going 4-for-4 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues -- a game Boston won 7-2 -- the Bruins have gone scoreless on the power play in Games 4 and 5, going 0-for-5 combined in back-to-back losses.

That's how they find themselves in this position, down 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, with Game 6 at Enterprise Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). The power play is far from the only thing Boston needs to correct to stave off elimination but getting back on track on special teams would certainly help.

 

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"Our power play has kind of got stuck here a little bit, so we have to look at some adjustments," coach Bruce Cassidy said before the Bruins flew to St. Louis on Friday. 

There are other adjustments to be made, including in the offensive zone at 5-on-5, where Boston has not performed to its usual standard, especially the first and second (Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci) lines, and finding a remedy for defensive zone breakdowns. 

The power play, though, is where the Bruins are used to turning a bit of magic.

Until the past two games, that is. 

In Game 5, Boston had three power plays and managed two shots on each of the first two and one shot on the third. It wasn't enough to put significant pressure on Blues goalie Jordan Binnington and it wasn't enough to break through against him in a 2-1 defeat at TD Garden.

So how do they change that?

"Entries," Cassidy said. "I thought last night they did a better job. We were looking at a certain side to get in. They have three across. If you can't get through the middle, they sort of have to sag then. I thought they did a good job of influencing us to one side. We got to be quicker at identifying that. We're not partial to one side. [Forward Brad Marchand] on one side, [forward David Pastrnak] on the other.

Video: The Bruins fail to move on after a non-penalty call

"I think in zone, they've been tight. Either got to stretch them out to get some seams or we got to be less stubborn, then get a net presence and take the shot that's available with that net presence. Maybe stretch them out off of puck recovery"

The Bruins will have one day on the ice and in the video room to make any necessary changes, to figure out how best they can beat the penalty kill units the Blues are throwing out against them. They've done it before, earlier in the series, and there's a belief they can do it again. 

And, as Cassidy said, it's not all on the players and a potential lack of execution. He is also taking some of the blame for the silence of the power play of late. 

"A little bit is on us to make sure -- 'us' the staff," said Cassidy, who is very involved in game-planning and strategizing on the power play, given his skills in that area as a player. "And it's on the players to make the right decision at the right moment in time. That's what we'll look at."

Boston is 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) on the power play during the Final, a number obviously bolstered by that overwhelming output in Game 3, which capped a run of seven straight games when the Bruins had scored with the man-advantage. 

They have used defenseman Torey Krug effectively in the series to run the power play, leading to Game 3, when he had four points (one goal, three assists). They need to get back that production, especially on the first unit, where Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak can make their presence felt, even if they continue to struggle at 5-on-5. 

Ultimately, though, Boston doesn't much care how it scores, whether it's on the power play, at even strength, or even shorthanded. The Bruins just want to make sure they get through Game 6 and force a Game 7 back in Boston on Wednesday to give themselves a chance to win the Stanley Cup they've worked toward all season. 

"Got to keep the puck out of our net if we're not putting it in their net," Cassidy said. "You need to win by one. If it's 1-0, great. If it's 6-5, we don't really care at this point. We just need the victory. 

"We have to figure out the best way to beat St. Louis in Game 6. That's what's in front of us."

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