Despite cries for Joe Corvo's head and the general insistence that the Bruins power play was terrible, the Bruins man advantage finished the 2011-12 season converting on 17.2 percent of its chances. The 15th best power play in the National Hockey League finished just a shade below the league average of 17.31. Watching the Bruins' power-play units evoked that same word more often than not, average.
No matter the combination Claude Julien trotted to the opposition zone, the Bruins just never look consistently dangerous up a skater. Again, Corvo, like Kaberle before him, arrived in Boston hailed the power-play specialist the Bruins needed to add another dimension to their team. He failed just as well, along with providing some especially forgettable play in his own zone. Against Washington in the playoffs, the Bruins posted a their usual two-for-23, with the most notable failure coming late in the third period of Game 7.
While the playoffs stand as the most recent memory of the Bruins inept power play, the unit struggled throughout the season. The days of Marc Savard meant one of the best man advantages in the NHL, and Savard's creativity along the right half wall or corner led to much of the improvising that made the Bruins so successful. Since Savard's career has, more or less, ended, the Bruins have lost that fluidity, instead rigidly trying looks repeatedly without much success. The weapon of Zdeno Chara's unacceptably hard slapshot appears to be the crutch they lean on, instead of moving well below the circles and, forgive me, getting pucks to the net.
Now, Nathan Horton's shortened season certainly impacted the Bruins' power play substantially. Before the brass opted to shelve him for the remainder of the season, Horton had six power play goals in his 46 games. Even with Horton, the combinations always seemed lacking. For most of the last, say, 15 months, the Bruins' players, coaching staff and front office have dismissed any kind of mental block related to the power play, instead assuming the goals and success will come once the team gets more confident. They insist they like what they're seeing from the same dozen or so guys they run out there from game to game. Ultimately, the team's had success without a dangerous power play in the past, obviously, but a stronger unit last season could've meant a short summer for the Bruins.
Continued development from some of the junior members of the Bruins' top six and even some spark offered by Dougie Hamilton could mean more consistent contributions from the power play. Of course, they could also mean literally nothing, and there's really no reason for anyone to expect anything else after last season's display. The Bruins' power play was average until it was terrible, and their season ended in April because of it.
Grade - C-