Drew Johnson The Hockey Writers
Bruins: McAvoy, Krug & the Power Play
The Boston Bruins fell to the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Monday and again on Wednesday by a score of 6-3 despite some of us brandishing higher expectations. It was a truly disappointing week as the B’s looked like an entirely different team than the one that showed up for their home opener against the Nashville Predators.
With the three empty-netters that the Avalanche managed aside, the Bruins were outscored 7-3 in the two games, a shocker considering Colorado was the worst team in the NHL last year.
Plenty of holes were revealed in Boston’s game on Monday, and even more on Wednesday, one of those holes being how the team presented itself with the man advantage. The Bruins came up with just one goal on nine power play attempts against the Avalanche. Meanwhile, they were able to cash in on one of five power plays against Nashville.
It’s not just the conversion rate that is concerning – it is, of course, early in the season, but Boston has scored on just 15.4% of their power plays, tied for 17th in the league. Consistency will be key, especially on the special teams, if Boston is to find themselves in the playoffs this April.
McAvoy Impresses, Krug’s Return
Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak have established an off-ice friendship, which makes a lot of sense considering the two are such young players with star potential. Their antics can be seen on the two player’s social media feeds (Pastrnak’s and McAvoy’s).
Their friendship has ignited chemistry on the ice. The 19-year-old defenseman connected with the 21-year-old winger on a power play one-timer against the Predators. Ironically, McAvoy predicted such a play on Twitter before the B’s home opener:
Finally game day tomorrow. That means more @pastrnak96 one timer bingos #hugmebrotha https://t.co/4vC9VuOQ7H
— Charlie McAvoy (@CMcAvoy44) October 5, 2017
For their first game against the Avalanche, Torey Krug returned from injury after suffering a fractured jaw during the preseason. He was slated on the first power play unit in a game that the Bruins were having a hard time getting anything going. Unfortunately, Boston failed to gain momentum on any of their four opportunities with the man-advantage.
Boston managed to score on a power play late in the game against the Avalanche in Wednesday’s matchup. Krug, again slated on the first power-play unit, slipped down below the goal line, passing the puck to Riley Nash for an opportunity. The rebound found Krug down low and he was able to swat it in for a goal.
Sniffing out the puck down low was an encouraging sign and something this writer would like to see more of from the 26-year-old on the man-advantage this season.
McAvoy & Krug Debate
Prior to Wednesday’s matchup, I was a huge advocate for keeping McAvoy on the first power-play unit. I think the kid has a unique skillset for a defenseman, especially his ability to make moves in order to get himself to the slot to fire a shot. That’s something the Bruins can cash in on with the man advantage.
But Krug showed that he is capable of contributing down low on Wednesday, and it’s not the first time he has scored a goal in that fashion. The power play units will be further fleshed out once Bergeron returns, which he is expected to this weekend. Fans should also expect Krug to get the start on that first power play unit when the Bruins take on the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
The only problem I have is the fact that Boston’s second power-play unit, in the absence of Bergeron and David Backes, has comprised of a slew of rookies including McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, and Anders Bjork. That second unit looked lost on Wednesday as they couldn’t get much going. At one point all five skaters were on the same side of the ice, making whatever possession they had easy for the Avalanche to thwart.
Krug would do a better job captaining that second power play unit while McAvoy would become more of a set-piece on the first. That is not to say both players won’t find success in their current roles – they will. However, it seems that Krug is the calmer, collected passer that the second unit needs. Meanwhile, McAvoy resembles a greater threat with his shot. Even the unit’s collective energy seemed heightened with his presence in the home opener.
No matter what coach Bruce Cassidy decides to do, both defensemen are going to need to contribute if Boston is going to see success on the power play. That is especially the case if we continue to see soft penalty calls which have, at least thus far, seemed pretty consistent throughout the league.
In the grand scheme of things, Boston has a lot of work to do if they want to be above .500 following Sunday night’s matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. Special teams will be leaned upon a lot this season, so it’s time for the Bruins to find a recipe that will breed success.
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