That the Boston Bruins powerplay is not scoring is news to no one. Some of the issues with it are apparent, some are only implied.  The issues vary from personnel as addressed in part yesterday to the mix of players on the ice. When the powerplay is at its worst, the powerplay poisons the Bruins. Worse, this same two minutes that is toxic to the Bruins gives their opponents a boost that is recognizable from miles away, even in the drunken stupor no few fans feel the urge to watch the Boston powerplay in.

For my money, David Krejci and Tomas Kaberle do not belong on the same powerplay unit, ever. On the powerplay the only difference between the two is that Kaberle is a left handed shot, and Krejci is a right handed shot. That’s it. Both are danglers and dazzlers, and both become highly predictable after watching them two or three games.  I’ve watched the two of them spend thirty seconds sapping the strength from the team, and wasting zone time dancing around in the same three step box.  A quarter of the power play wasted is inexcusable.  The dangling is very useful if it allows someone to get into position for a shot, or pulls the defenders out of position. When combined these two spend too much time waiting, and defenders know neither of them is a likely shooter and don’t take the bait.

Ideally the two of them will be kept on different powerplay units. That or they need to shoot more, and make it apparent they are doing so.  Bergeron is like Krejci a righty, and of the three the best defender. A unit constructed around Bergeron and Kaberle at the points,  Ryder along one wall, Lucic or Chara as the net front presence, and Marchand as the other forward.  I think, you could get good production out of: Bergeron, Kaberle, Marchand, Ryder, Lucic. With Bergeron you’ve got your best faceoff man who can then fade back to the point.  In Marchand you’ve got one of the two or three fastest players on the team who might start in the second defensemans position and get into position on the wall quickly. Kaberle’s passing doesn’t need much explanation. Lucic and Ryder give you a huge body and a quick set of hands that combine for this year and last years top goal scorers.

The other unit is put together not quite by default, but uses still provides a different look, and at least two forwards who have played together at even strength extensively. Krejci along the wall. Horton would be along the crease, low slot and behind the net. Seguin on the opposite wall from Krejci, and high slot. Chara is a natural on one point. While the rebound problems of a 106 mph shot bouncing off a shin or stanchion are pretty apparent, using it once or twice quickly can’t be discounted, and you just can’t overlook the possible attrition of someone who blocks a slapper that hard in the wrong spot. Someone who gets out of the way slow enough to create a screen on their goalie is a benefit too.  The last spot on the unit is  possibly the toughest to fill. With the current defensive six pack you’ve got a couple viable options. First up is adding Seidenberg, he and Chara work well together for smothering opponents. The second is go with a fast, right handed shot which given who else is used in this and the other unit mostly leaves Peverley, or go with yet  another booming shot in Boychuck. Another option on defense that would maximize speed is Ference who has seen some powerplay time. My unit would be: Chara, Krejci, Peverley, Seguin Horton.

True, with these two units you’re obliterating all four forward lines, but you can come out with McQuaid and Ference for a solid defensive pair, and put together reasonable forward unit if you start the powerplay with Bergeron unit by bringing him back out, his conditioning is probably the best of any forward on the team.

This was sent to me very shortly before game 1, due to the internet being fun, it didn’t make it up before then.

Hey all,

 

Welcome to my little corner of the world.  I’ve finally been given an opportunity to get my viewpoint out about the status and activities of our favorite team.  So on to the obligatory…

 

Thanks to my great friend “The ‘Sage” for giving me the opportunity to write about a team I am passionate about.  The Sage is already well established and I only hope that I can add to that reputation.

 

So let’s start at the beginning…

 

Before the beginning of the season we were left with a sour taste in our collective mouths over an unexpected exit from the playoffs.  Following cries of “Hell one, snowball zero” thanks to New Jack, we were expecting more.  Then came talks of trading Thomas as we discovered what we thought was the second coming in Tuukka.  But the Bruins did the right thing in hanging onto the Vezina winner as he would go on to demonstrate this season.  There were other things such as Savvy’s concussion and Seidenberg’s wrist.  Then there was the rookie…We marveled at his first goal and everyone had hopes of a high goal scorer.

 

Thomas showed us what he could do with two healthy hips and freedom of movement.  Another Vezina could be on the horizon.  My man Luc started showing us that he wants to be the next…I’m not gonna say it, but I still hold out hope.

 

We came to the trade deadline and Chia pet wanted something that, The Sage told me, all the cool kids have and he got his PMD.  Some guy named Kaberle.  We overpaid, no doubt, but fans rallied behind this move, even though Kaberle has spent the second half of the season trying to prove us wrong.  Two other players were brought in, and at least one is paying off as Peverley has been playing his heart out.  Kelly has been pretty good on the PK, and I probably wouldn’t send him back.

 

So here we are in the Finals.  Beating our hated rivals, the Divers, in seven games, and exorcising the demon from last season by sweeping the Flyers.  What a great feeling that was!  The Lightning showed us that they are for real with their talent and gave the Bruins all they could handle.  Thomas stood on his head, and leaned on Reebok for a little assistance to get us here.

 

This series will be tough, 6 games minimum is my take.  Our top defensive pair is better than what Vancouver can offer but their defense has the ability to score.  The Boys in Black have something more important though, scoring depth.  The third and fourth lines for the B’s have 5 more goals and 12 more points than their counterparts for the guys in green.  Thomas will have to be the Vezina winner again, but the men in front of him will have to play their best and STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX!

 

One last thought as they literally get ready to sing the national anthems on my television…at the end of the season, one way or the other…do the B’s do the unthinkable and trade a Vezina winner?  No joke, I have heard it mentioned that his trade stock will never be higher and we have the future sitting on the bench.  I say that with all the money coming off the books at the end of the season, and a cap increase, we need to keep this stellar goaltender for another shot next season.  Tuukka will still be there, and we never even talked about the two rookies except for the quick mention at the top!

 

So lets drop the puck and get this thing started already…

Signed:

Left Wing Lock

 

 

A couple of options have been kicked around by fans across the web for quite a while about what can be done to fix the powerplay. Some of the ‘solutions’ are simplistic to the point one hope the suggestions are made by drunks or people watching hockey for the first time. Others are the same thing over and over again, and in some the arguement against them has changed over the course of the season.

My most desired changed would be switching out Recchi and Marchand. Both are left handed shots which means you’re getting all the same shooting angles covered. Recchi is undeniably one of the best at tipping in pucks near the crease, but hasn’t been spotted their on the powerplay in months. While it might sting the pride of Recchi to be removed from the powerplay, he’s the one who said that guys need to get outside their comfort zone. For Marchand who’s chances of being on the Bruins next season are significantly higher than Recchi’s it would be both on the job training and a major change to the powerplay matrix. Marchand is one of the two or three fastest skaters on the team, and if Recchi was ever in the same neighborhood of speed, it hasn’t been this side of the lockout.

Another point in Marchand’s favor is that as his shorthanded goals prove his ability to read opposing players is game changing. His speed is a huge asset, but greatly overlooked is that he finished the season with the second most accurate shot for the Bruins.  Bergeron and Marchand have shown undeniable synergy going back all the way to last season as well. The one thing that  Marchand has that no one currently on the powerplay on a regular basis has is brashness. Chara, Bergeron, Seidenberg all have an undeniable can do attitude that is 100% necessary for leadership. Marchand brings a bit of can do now swagger to whatever he does on the ice. In the regular season, he got about one point every eleven minutes with just 41 minutes of powerplay time. In the post season, Recchi has over fifty minutes of powerplay time and no points.

Aside from the grotesque, intrusive, and hyper sensitive officiating through forty minutes I don’t think true hockey fans could ask for a better game. I don’t deny I’m a Bruins fan, but I don’t think at least half the calls made against the Canucks were valid. Badly officiated game.

We all saw the single goal of the game, what we think of the call now that it’s gone into the books is irrelevant. What should be addressed is the line change leading up to the goal. Kesler was abandoned, there were no Bruins anywhere near the zone, and Torres was allowed to plow through players in the neutral zone and create more than one turnover late in the game. This is the second bad line change that lead directly to a goal and a loss in this years playoffs.

The period ending scrum in which Burrows bit Bergeron is exactly the sort of reason I gave the Bruins such a wide advantage in the intangibles. The Bruins played physically, brawled and still managed to succeed all year, in the playoffs they have played physically and taken less than their regular season average of penalties. The Canucks, when the lose discipline and start getting off their game don’t fare well. The Blackhawks got into the playoffs in the eleventh hour, and got into the heads of the Canucks in a big way. When the Canucks play a rough, aggressive game they lose. They just aren’t equipped for it.

It looks like Hamuis may be out a game or even two. As he’s probably the best or second best defensive blueliner this is nothing but a win for the Bruins. One of either Ballard or Tanev are likely to play in his place and this means the other defensemen are going to get put into situations they may be uncomfortable and exploitable in. Burrows, if history is any guide should get at least a one game suspension as did Ruutu in 2009.  It is likely both players will be out in game two and that means the Bruins adjustments won’t be the only destabilizing force on the Canucks adjustments.

Reading over my Twitter timeline and various blogs going on and on about how the Bruins horrible powerplay failed to score in six tries last night. Funny thing is, there were no powerplay goals last night. This means the Bruins supposedly horrible penalty kill managed to do some solid work as well. We’ve been told, over, and over, and over, and over about how good the Canucks powerplay is but they failed to score last night on any of their chances, and in some cases didn’t even get a shot with the man advantage. How many powerplays did they have you ask? Six.

Forwards:

Bruins have more depth of scoring and more grit.

Canucks have higher end scorers with more speed.

Points out of 10:

Bruins 8 Canucks 8.5

Defense:

Bruins have more grit, more size, and better health with a higher level of talent at the top.

Canucks have more speed, more offensive punch, but are not as good in their own zone against physical forwards.

Points out of 10:

Bruins 8.5 Canucks 8.5

Goaltending

Bruins: Better career numbers in the playoffs.

Canucks: Has won on a big stage recently at the Olympics.

Points out of ten:

Bruins 9.5 Canucks 8

Special teams:

Bruins: Have had a horrid powerplay, but statistically speaking its not likely a team can have this weak a powerplay this long. Reasonable penalty kill. Their penalty was only .5% worse than Vancouver’s, and is only .5% below their regular season number now.

Canucks: A long series against the Predators who were 26th in the regular season on the PP slightly inflates their penalty kill numbers, and with a PP clicking at 33% which is 9% higher than their powerplay over the regular season may say more about who they have faced than who they are.

Points out of ten:

Bruins 6 Canucks 9

Intangibles.

Bruins: To get to the Finals the Bruins had to first face and beat their arch rivals the Canadiens in a seven game series in which the their captain was out one game and clearly under the weather through the end of the series. Next up they had to go against the team that came back from a 1-3 deficit to beat them, which they did in four games. In the Tampa Bay series they had to go into the series not knowing how long their best all around player and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron would be out. They have been high disciplined and have taken less than twelve minutes of penalties per game.

Canucks: They overcame their personal playoff bugaboos the Chicago Blackhawks in a seven game series, and pulled their number one goalie, and started the backup in a game. Against the Predators their frustration with the play of Pekka Rinne lead to defensive breakdowns and shorthanded goals against. Against the Sharks they lost composure and discipline (as did the Sharks) and abandoned their game, and were still taken to the limit by a very beaten up team. In the post season they are averaging about six more penalty minutes per game.  Reputation aside, Raffi Torres has less than half the penalties of Maxim Lapierre, and a third less than Kevin Bieksa. The three of them have more penalties than the top four most penalized Bruins, and more than the fifth most penalized to non penalized players as well.

Intangibles:

Bruins: 8.5 Canucks: 6

Totals:

Bruins: 40.5 Canucks: 40

There you have it.

This drinking game is not for the meek, I wouldn’t advise reading any further if you small bladder or high sensitivity to caffeine or alcohol.

Take one drink when:

The amount of time it’s been since the Bruins won a Cup is mentioned.

Any mention of the Canunks never having won a Cup.

The fact that the two head coaches played together is mentioned.

Any reference is made to the number of Canadian or American players on one of the teams.

There is a tv timeout with two or more Geico ads.

A member of the media asks a completely idiotic question before, during or after the game.

Take two drinks when:

Bobby Orr is mentioned.

An announcer, or player mentions how long it has been since a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.

Milan Lucic is shown in video playing in Juniors.

The Cam Neely-Barry Pederson trade is brought up.

Any video of the USA vs Canada Olympic games is shown.

The announcers verbally perform a biblical sin on Ryan Kesler.

The Tim Thomas save on Steve Downie is mentioned or shown.

Roberto Luongo is shown letting in a goal to Chicago.

Take three drinks when:

Zdeno Chara’s height, weight, or physical fitness are mentioned.

The Sedin’s cycling the puck is mentioned.

The special teams are brought up when they are playing five on five.

The general managers, owners or other non coaching staff are shown.

Someone feels the need to mention that Vancouver, British Columbia is in western Canada.

Take four drinks when:

The pink hat who started watching hockey in the second round correctly interprets a referees  hand signal of a call.

Any player having been traded at or near the deadline is mentioned.

Matchups from previous series are brought up.

There is scrum not involving Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Aaron Rome, Brad Marchand or Alex Burrows.

Take five drinks if someone mentions Bieksa’s toughness and mentions the fight with Patrick Marleau.

 

Skip your next drink:

If Milan Lucic scores in Vancouver and the announcers fail to mention he’s from Vancouver.

The announcers mention any play by Mark Recchi and fail to note he has his name on the Cup with two different teams already.

You hear a Canadian announcer fail to pronounce the Bruins Captains name Chair-ah.

One of the many interesting contrasts of these two teams is that while they are both built around goalies as pillars, the other superstar on their team isn’t in the same position. For the Canucks, their superstars are at forward, and the Bruins have theirs on defense. The Canucks arguably have multiple #2 and #3 defensemen, the Bruins also arguably lack a true elite forward. One big difference you’ll not is that the top four defensemen in Vancouver are split in ice time by less than four minutes from first to fourth. in Boston the spread is almost eight minutes.

Bruins:

Zdeno Chara is the largest athlete ever to play in the NHL, he’s also been called the best conditioned man in the NHL. At 6’9 even without his stick he can reach as far as some players can with theirs. His stick is taller than more than one player in the NHL. Strong, good skater and willing to use every tool available to him to win he’s won a Norris Trophy already, and is nominated for a second this year. While not the fastest man in the league in the first stride he’s been seen to go stride for stride down the ice with smaller, ‘faster’ men like Ilya Kovalchuk to name one and manage to break up their shots. Plays in all situations.

Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins German defenseman has been having an amazing year. He had a career high in goals and points in the regular season, and is currently leading all Bruins in time on ice. Also plays in all situations, blocks tons of shots, and works well in a tandem with Chara.

Johnny Boychuck, third in ice time he’s got a shot that’s been measured over 100 MPH, is know for stunning hipchecks and won AHL defensemen of the year his last year with Providence.

Andrew Ference, the former Calgary Flame and Pittsburgh Penguin has been healthy this year for the first time in a couple season. He had a personal high in +/- at +22 in the regular season. The smallest and fastest of the Bruins top six, he’s intimidated by no one and cracked the orbital bone of an opponent who dropped the gloves with him in a game against the Dallas Stars.

Tomas Kaberle, recent Maple Leafs transplant and billed as a powerplay guru. Was rather shaky in the early parts ofthe playoffs and late regular season has settled in the last seven or eight games. Was originally brought in to put the defibrillator on the Bruins powerplay.  Solid skater, not above average in his own zone.

Adam McQuaid. Nicknamed “DarthQuaider” for his powerful hits both body and fist (as needed), this rookie has a very quiet +5 in 18 games and zero PIM despite an unabashed physicality. Better in his own zone than the other two he has been utterly reliable. A -1 in game 1 against Tampa Bay is his only minus game in the post season.

Shane Hnidy has gotten into three games this post season and played a limited number of minutes. A defensive defenseman.

Steve Kampfer, like many college players turned pro he hit the wall towards the end of the season and his play tapered off a bit. When in the lineup the fastest Bruins defenseman with a very solid shot, has not played in the playoffs.

Canucks:

Kevin Bieksa is the leading light of the Canucks defensemen. Physical, defensively sound and able to contribute offensively. Has been limited by injuries in his career but is having a strong post season. Had a fight with San Jose Sharks enforcer Patrick Marleau in the last round.

Dan Hamuis was the hot potato of the waning hours of last June and involved in three prefree agency trades before eventually signing in Vancouver. Is second to Bieksa in TOI, like Bieksa was limited by injuries during the regular season. Leads all Canucks in shorthanded time, had more points than Bieksa in less games in the regular season.

Alex Edler, third in ice time big offensive threat on the blueline, has struggled slightly in the post season has no powrplay goals and just two powerplay assist in the playoffs. Not the most sound defensively, but good speed.

Christian Ehrhoff is the biggest offensive threat from the blueline. Like his countryman Seidenberg set personal highs in points and assists, with 14 regular season goals, six of them on the powerplay. While he is first in points for defensemen, he is fourth in TOI, has good speed but is not defensively sound. Has only played 16 of the Canucks 18 games due to an injury against the Sharks, but according to the Canucks website is expected to play in game 1.

Sami Salo, another of the Canucks blueliners to spend a lot of time on the shelf this year. He got two of his post season goals in one game against the Sharks, has played in only 14 of the post season games. -2, with 3 points and averaging 18:43 in TOI, is the largest of the  Canucks defensemen who are likely to see game time this series at 218.

Aaron Rome, also expected to return tonight Rome sees very little special teams time and plays just over 13 minutes a night.  Has bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL for years, with injuries this season creating room for him to set personal highs of 56 games and 5 points. Despite only playing 11 games and about the same amount of minutes as McQuaid has the second most PIMs on the Vancouver blueline.

Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts, and rookie Christopher Tanev have filled in when injuries require, but have zero points, 4 PIM’s and not much special teams time between them.

Final comparison:

While the Canucks defense clearly has more speed and is more offensively gifted they are also notably lacking the heavyweight defenders that can standup to and impede the larger Bruins forwards. The Bruins defense is as sound in their own zone, and do have the ability to simply grind opposing forwards down.

 

This is possibly the most interesting position to breakdown this series. Both goalies are Vezina finalists, both have had question marks hang over their heads for years, but that’s where the similarities stop.

Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins is an atypical goalie. He’s more of the Dominic Hasek style battler than the no most common butterfly style. Thomas is one of the half dozen shortest goalies in the league and relies on quickness and tracking the puck.

Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks is the now traditional butterfly goalie with a high reliance on positional saves. Is not as adept at scrambling for the puck as even some other butterfly goalies, but does sometimes intentionally drop his stick to make a save. Luongo ranks among the tallest goaltenders.

2010-11 regular season numbers.

Thomas: 57 GP, 35 wins .938 Sv% (1st in NHL and a record) 2.00 GAA (1st in NHL)

Luongo: 60 GP, 38 wins .928 2v% (4th) 2.11 GAA (2nd)

2010-11 post season:

Thomas:  18 GP, 12 W, .929 Sv% 2.29 GAA

Luongo: 18 GP, 12 W, .922 Sv% 2.29 GAA

Career post season:

Thomas: 36 GP 22 W, .928 Sv% 2.23 GAA 3 shutouts

Luongo: 52 GP 29W, .920 S% 2.40 GAA 3 shutouts

Of the top sixty goal scores in the regular season, the number in their conference. (players on their own team not counted).

Total goals scored by first three opponents in the regular season.

Thomas faced teams with 710 goals between them.

Luongo faced teams with 708 goals between them.

Other interesting facts.

  • Luongo has been pulled twice in this post season.
  • Thomas has not been pulled at all.
  • Luongo was spelled by backup Schneider for a game in the opening series.
  • Both goalies have two shutouts.
  • During the lockout Tim Thomas played in Europe and won 2 awards for best player, Luongo rested.