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Bruins need to resolve power-play woes

by Mike G. Morreale
In addition to answering questions about last year's seven-game meltdown to the Flyers, the Boston Bruins are also getting an earful regarding their powerless power-play.
The club is confident they'll straighten things out beginning with Game 1 against Philadelphia in Saturday's Eastern Conference Semifinals here at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). The matchup marks the sixth series between the teams with the Flyers holding a 3-2 lead after rallying for a seven-game series triumph last spring.
Boston set an NHL record for futility with the man advantage during their seven-game victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the conference quarterfinal round when they went 0-for-21 -- becoming the only NHL team to win a seven-game playoff series without scoring a power-play goal.
While the Flyers power-play wasn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard during their seven-game victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the opening round, the return of defenseman Chris Pronger played a big part in the team's strong finish in Games 6 and 7 with the man advantage. The Flyers are hitting at a 14.3 percent clip, going 5-for-35, on the power-play in the playoffs.
"I really feel that the power play can win you games," Flyers forward Claude Giroux said. "I think we're going to have to be responsible and stay out of the box."
In addition to figuring out a way to ignite their power-play, Bruins coach Claude Julien will also remind his players not to get overly anxious against Philadelphia's effective penalty killers. The Flyers finished tied for second in the League during the regular season with 13 shorthanded goals.
"There's no doubt when they scored the amount of shorthanded goals that they've scored, certainly it has been addressed," Julien said. "They kill a little differently … a little more aggressively and with the intent of hopefully scoring shorthanded goals. So we're going to have to be aware of that, but again we're confident that we're going to get our power play going and we need to find solutions.
"We need our guys to step it up and we all need to be part of the solution," he continued. "And that's what we're trying to do here right now. I think it's going to be important for our hockey club here moving forward that that area of our game does get better."
Flyers forward Scott Hartnell and starting goalie Brian Boucher weren't really fazed by Boston's first-round failure on the power-play.
"Well they played good 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 hockey," Hartnell said. "Hopefully, we can keep that stat as low as possible. I know Buffalo had some success on us on their power play (7-for-31). Tightening it up, blocking shots, making that first save, defensive players clearing rebounds, we need all of that to be successful."
"Well you can look at it both ways," Boucher said. "Either their power play is really struggling or they are due. They got a lot of talent on that team, they're a hard-nosed team. I wouldn't really expect that they would go O-for, again. I think that's going to be a tough challenge to keep them off the board on the power play."
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli wasn't ignoring the topic of his team's power-play when the issue was brought up during his talk with the media this week.
"Trust me, this is a topic that we have addressed all year, every day," Chiarelli said. "I see a group of guys that … beaten down is the wrong word but we've been on them so much to succeed and have different looks. You reach a point where you are diminishing returns as far as trying to make changes, so it's been a frustrating exercise. The giveaway that (led to the Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal) we tried to change the entry (to) a delayed entry, and it didn't work."
Chiarelli, whose team finished 20th in the League during the regular season with a 16.2 percentage on the power-play, admits it has been frustrating to watch.
"Because we're having trouble getting set up, it's frustrating," he said. "I know these guys want to succeed at it. I know for the coaching staff, that's been at the top of their list. I know Tomas (Kaberle) has been under some heat too and it's not his fault.
"Part of it I think is nerves. Part of it is maybe they are squeezing their sticks too much. It's not fluid and these players have some fluidity to their game as far as making plays. So we have to figure it out and it's going to be an important component again in this series (against the Flyers)."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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