Bruins penalty kill continues to dominate in Game 2 win over Red Wings
|04.20.14 at 8:03 pm ET|
Six power plays against. Two shots on goal. Zero goals.
That’s the line for the Bruins’ penalty kill through the first two games of the team’s first-round series against the Red Wings. After allowing one shot on two kills in Friday’s Game 1, the Bruins frustrated Detroit’s power play even more in Game 2, surrendering just one shot on four opportunities.
Boston’s penalty killers didn’t allow easy entries into the zone. They got their sticks and bodies in passing and shooting lanes. They cleared out the front of the net. They won battles along the boards. They pounced on loose pucks. And they made sure their clears went the length of the ice.
“We’re clearing it 200 feet,” Johnny Boychuk said. “It’s just determination, battling, talking, and getting the puck and clearing it.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of this PK dominance is that the Bruins are doing it without several of their regular killers. They played Game 1 without Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, all of whom have been regulars in the penalty kill rotation this season. Miller returned for Game 2, but the other three remained sidelined.
David Krejci, Justin Florek, Andrej Meszaros and — in Game 1 — Corey Potter have stepped up in their stead, while Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson and Gregory Campbell have remained penalty-killing rocks. (As an aside, Chara played a staggering 6:31 on the PK Saturday, and Boychuk wasn’t too far behind at 5:28.)
Maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising, though. Krejci isn’t used a lot on the penalty kill because the Bruins rarely need to use him, but he has killed penalties in the past, and he’s always been reliable in his own end. Florek was a regular penalty-killer in Providence this season, and his adjustment to that role in the NHL has gone well so far. Meszaros has never been the PK workhorse that Chara or Boychuk is, but he got enough shorthanded time in Philadelphia to know what he’s doing. Ditto for Potter in Edmonton.
“Our guys just did a great job,” Claude Julien said. “David Krejci hasn’t killed much this year. He’s killed in the past and he’s been a good penalty killer. We’re, I guess, blessed with a lot of them this year, where we’re able to save David for the line following a penalty kill. But we need him now. He’s stepped up.
“Florek’s another guy that’s killed penalties in Providence and is pretty good at it as well. So guys have done a good job. Our regular guys continue to do a good job on it, but then new guys have come in and really stepped up and replaced those missing guys in a good way.”
What once appeared to be a legitimate concern in the wake of Dennis Seidenberg‘s injury is now a clear strength. Yes, the Bruins were an atrocious 72.2 percent on the penalty kill in the 15 games immediately following Seidenberg’s injury. But that stretch is long-forgotten at this point.
Over the last 24 games, the Bruins’ penalty kill is operating at a phenomenal 89.4 percent clip. To put that in perspective, the Devils finished the regular season with the NHL‘s best penalty kill at 86.4 percent.
Part of that is Tuukka Rask‘s improved play following a mid-season slump, but an equally important part is that the Bruins haven’t been allowing as many quality chances. And so far in this series, they’ve hardly allowed any chances, period — forget quality ones. Rask has barely even been challenged by the Red Wings’ power play.
The Bruins would prefer to not have to kill four penalties in any given game, but it’s certainly encouraging to see them not only preventing the Red Wings from scoring on the man advantage, but preventing them from even generating momentum.
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