WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Boston Bruins are staying out of the penalty box and shutting down the rare power plays they have given up in the playoffs.
The Bruins’ penalty killers improved to a perfect 9-for-9, killing off the only power play they gave up during their 4-1 victory against Carolina in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal Friday night.
“A lot of what this has to do with – at least from a defenceman’s point of view – is having some forwards back helping us, not having too many breakdowns where we’re forced to be out of position and have to use our sticks,” defenceman Steve Montador after practice Saturday. “So I think because we’re in better position, because our forwards are helping out, credit to them because it’s making our job that much easier.”
The clean play in front of him has impressed Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
“I can’t rarely, if ever, think of a time period where a team that’s played so well defensively without taking penalties,” Thomas said. “It’s because they work so hard to be in position and they’re not taking penalties because they’re in the right position all the time. So it is discipline so you don’t reach out your stick and stuff.”
The Hurricanes’ power play has been off so far in the playoffs with two goals in 30 chances. But they know they have to do a better job of drawing penalties from the Bruins to have a chance in this series. How? Tough question.
“Well, we’re not going to complain more – that doesn’t work,” said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice, whose team did not practice Saturday. “We are going to do everything that we can. You rarely take a penalty when you have the puck so you need to control the puck better and put them in positions where they get in behind and start having to reach in to stop you. But they’re very well coached and very disciplined in that approach so that it doesn’t happen very often.
Hurricanes centre Eric Staal is pointless in five games this season against Boston. During the regular season, he led Carolina with 14 power-play goals. He knows it’ll take more than the Hurricanes showed in Game 1 to get the power play rolling.
“We need to create some havoc down in their end of the ice, get our feet moving, move pucks and eventually they’re going to have to hold us or hook and we’ll get some power plays,” he said. “I don’t think we had enough sustained pressure to generate some of those opportunities and we just have to do a better job of that in Game 2.”
Notes: Winger Phil Kessel was the only Bruins player not to practice. He banged his elbow in a fall in Game 1, but coach Claude Julien said his leading regular-season goal-scorer will be ready for Game 2. …. There was a scoring change made today from Game 1. Aaron Ward was credited with the Bruins’ first goal, which was originally credited to David Krejci. Michael Ryder and Krejci are now credited with the assists.