In a connection that the Boston Bruins seem to think is a coincidence at this point, their power play is struggling amidst the absence of game-breaking sniper David Pastrnak.
The Boston Bruins man advantage went 0-for-4 in Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, and was 0-for-4 during Tuesday night’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings as well. Even in Friday night’s impressive victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins power play went 0-for-3 as well while holding the high-powered Bolts PP off the board in five chances as well.
So now the Boston Bruins power play is 0-for-11 in the last three games without No. 88, and they’ve dropped to 10th in the NHL with a 22.5 percent success rate.
It’s about the entries and the lack of setup as much as anything else, but nothing has been particularly good over the last handful of games with a special teams unit that’s going to be vitally important come Stanley Cup playoff time.
“Lack of execution. I’ve seen it for a while now. With [David Pastrnak] in the lineup or without him, Bergie in or out. We don’t execute well enough right now. The quickness and the pace of execution, hitting the net when you do get the opportunity,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We missed an open net again [on Sunday], so those numbers get skewed. And I think there’s some stubbornness on the entries. Instead of going in as a group or putting it behind them and going to get it the old-fashioned way, we’ve had some issues there where we’ll try to coach it into the group.
“At some point the execution will turn because they’re good players and they’ve had good success on the power play. Hopefully with the stubbornness on the entries, they’ll change the approach.”
To Cassidy’s point, the Boston Bruins were 0-for-5 on the power play against the Blue Jackets on Monday night as well in the game where No. 88 got injured in an awkward entanglement coming out of a faceoff. The Bruins have now gone a week without a power play goal dating back to their last home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 2, and went the entire four-game road trip without a power play score in 16 tries, mostly without the lethal threat of David Pastrnak from the left face-off circle.
For most of the last few seasons, the entire top B’s power play unit has run through Patrice Bergeron in the slot bumper spot, but it’s Pastrnak’s one-time threat from the face-off circle that opens up space and time for the other four scoring threats on the ice with him.
Without Pastrnak’s shooting threat, the Boston Bruins have been running through different formations and personnel whether it was Hampus Lindholm at the point with Charlie McAvoy, or Charlie Coyle playing the net-front. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a right shot on the Bruins roster that can replace Pastrnak in terms of accuracy and threat with quick shots from the dot.
“It is an adjustment. Obviously, you miss a guy like [Pastrnak]. He’s one of the best shooters in the world and teams have to respect that,” said Patrice Bergeron of No. 88, who is tied for 7th in the NHL with 14 PP goals this season. “It kind of opens up different things when he’s out there, but that being said there are things there on the power play where we can be a little crisper and a little sharper.”
With Monday an off day for the B’s, everybody will find out on Tuesday how close Pastrnak is to returning to the Boston Bruins lineup. But either way they are going to need to find some answers for a power play unit that’s massively struggled over the last week amidst a couple of tough losses to the Red Wings and Capitals that have pushed them back into the wild card spot.