A bit ago as the Bruins power play was lurching into the record books on their way to the Stanley Cup I mentioned how some of the problems of the powerplay were the mechanics, which are a tactical problem. In the off season after free agency was seven days settled into the hockey world and how Chiarelli had failed to fill the void, a strategic problem. Today we dig a tiny bit deeper and look at the obvious yet most overlooked fault, the supply chain.
In the past five year the Boston Bruins have made 31 draft selections. In the first two rounds, the rounds that make up most NHL players, they have selected ten players. Of the ten selections six have been centers. Two more defensemen and two right wings. One of those defensemen, Dougie Hamilton was not the player the Bruins were expecting to pick.
The current Bruins roster has; Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Greg Campbell, Rich Peverley, and Brad Marchand currently or formerly playing at center. That’s eight out of twelve forwards. As you’ll see on the ice, and on the stat sheet most of the Bruins centers are pass first, shoot later or pass, wait, pass, pass and then maybe shoot. In the past three seasons only one center has finished in the top five on the team for shots on goal. Most seasons every single center on the team finishes with an average below two shots on goal per game. The only Bruins center to finish above two hundred shots in a season is Patrice Bergeron.
With so few guys who think shot first on the ice and two, three and sometimes four of these eight centers on the ice during a powerplay it isn’t surprising that powerplay is so bad. Add in the fact that the one of them who is most likely to get a shot on net is generally out at the point where it is hardest to do so and you’re just compounding the problems. As has been pointed out here, and elsewhere on the web and in print, the Bruins lack a top level goal scorer. Those are hard to come by, and a guy like Marian Hossa or Martin St Louis don’t come along often, they do hit the market. Just as Chiarelli reeled in Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard into a much, much less competitive team and managed to swindle the Florida Panthers out of Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell, it is well past time the he went out and got a high end goal scorer who can be relied upon to be a consistent 35+ goal scorer and even average defensively.
There are teams out there right now that are going to need to blow things up and start over. Detroit without Lidstrom is not a playoff team, the New Jersey Devils are staring down the barrel of the post Brodeur era, and while the Dallas Stars are on the rise again they are hardly a complete team. The Coyotes and Blue Jackets could both use prospects they don’t have to pay a great deal. The Calgary Flames have been run poorly for years and despite superlative talent in some players have both a thin roster and very weak prospect pool. Worse for the Flames, the end of Iginla reign as king of the town is if not imminent, then something that can’t be projected as more than three or four years off. There is talent out there. Get the right piece of talent and the powerplay issue goes away.