Feb 24, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a stick save against the Buffalo Sabres as defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) looks on. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
It’s no surprise that the Bruins’ penalty kill was again among the best in the NHL, to be honest there were times where I’d rather have the Bruins take a penalty rather than go a man up, the difference was that stark.
Boston was 83.5% on the kill last season, good enough for 11th in the league. Not exactly as prolific as last year but more than respectable, the point is that defense will always be the calling card of this team under Claude Julien.
In a way it felt like perhaps the powerplay could benefit from the kind of work that went into shorthanded situation. Where the Bruins’ powerplay felt like bumpers on a pinball machine merely hoping to get a puck past the flippers the penalty kill was aggressive. Forwards were quick to pressure puck carriers in the right situation while the box in front of the net was kept tight when it needed to be.
Not surprisingly, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were among the leaders in shorthanded time on ice with 2:43 and 2:34 respectively. Their play styles are perfect for the situation, with Chara using his size to clear the crease and Seidenberg’s penchant for blocking shots.
What really went right for the Bruins on the kill though was their skill on the faceoff dot. Well ok, more like Patrice Bergeron’s skill on the faceoff dot.
Bergeron ended the regular season winning 59.3% of his faceoffs. While shorthanded he won 53.5% of his faceoffs. Bergeron took 230 shorthanded draws, that was 132 more than Gregory Campbell who was second on the list with 98.
That, on top of playing in every other situation, is how you win a Selke trophy.
If there was one criticism that could be heaped on the kill it was that the skill displayed shorthanded would frustratingly disappear once on the man advantage.
Whether that means that a simple change of philosophy could fix the powerplay is yet to be seen, but it is something to think about.