All right, the Memorial Cup is over, I'm back in Vancouver for a couple of days, and I am now back to lurking in the comments section for a good chunk of time. Toronto was terrific, I met some wonderful people there, watched some terrific hockey, made a lot of friends and, on one memorable night last Saturday I made a few enemies.
What do you get when you cross a Canuck fan, a handful of Leaf and Habs fans, four Bruins fans and copious amounts of alcohol? Bad trash talk. I had some great line about Roberto Luongo being somewhat superior to Tim Thomas because he had never spent a season as a backup. Their lame retort was to hum Chelsea Dagger, as if, after three years, it doesn't pain me to hear it anymore. (The Fratellis broke up a while back, anyway. Also, for all the guff Luongo takes about that song rattling him, Chicago has outscored Vancouver by a single goal in the United Center in the playoffs over the last three seasons. It's actually 29-28, so the song they play when the road team scores at the Madhouse evidently haunts Chicago fans just as much.)
That story goes in many directions, but, some of the talk came to how bad the Bruins looked with the extra man all this playoffs. Heck, you might have heard Nick Kypreos talking about the same thing on HockeyCentral today. You saw the headline and clicked for one reason and one reason only: "Just how bad is this Boston Bruins powerplay?"
On the surface, not good at all. They're scoring in 7.5% of their opportunities, which roughly equals the efficiency percentage of the District 5 team before the arrival of Coach Gordon Bombay. They were trying everything against Vancouver including putting Zdeno Chara out in front of the net, having him take faceoffs (one, anyway. He's 1/1) and, to be quite honest, they looked more dangerous than people are giving them credit for. A lot of the Canuck penalty kill hinged on Roberto Luongo getting in front of shots and smothering rebounds. There were a few instances where pucks bounced over sticks or some directionless snot in a white, yellow and black sweater hacked at the puck like a world-class duffer on a pitch and putt course. They managed 8 shots 5-on-4, which works out to 72.9 over 60 minutes, a ratio that, if you actually took the time to look at the numbers from Behind The Net, would be the most of any team in the playoffs.
So, in Game One, the Bruins had 8 shots in 6.58 minutes of 5-on-4, and the Canucks had just 5 shots in 9.38 minutes of 5-on-4, and yet we're talking about the Bruins powerplay today, frankly, because all the TV talking heads keep bringing it up, and when you "saw it bad" enough, it becomes something you look for. Kent Wilson's scoring chances chart shows the Bruins out-chancing the Canucks 6-1 with the man-advantage.
The problem for Boston, however, is that these playoffs they have an absurdly low number of shots per 60 in the playoffs, at 38.6. While they are shooting at just 5.7% in 5-on-4 situations, they aren't doing themselves any favours. I'm not an Xs and Os guy, I don't actually watch hockey, so I can't sit here telling them how to fix it, but if they perform like they did Game One against Vancouver, they're off to a good start this series. One game isn't telling but when you hear a team isn't "burying its chances" you know all too well that the goals aren't too far behind. So let's shelve this and dust it off for when the Canuck penalty kill picks up and the Bruins powerplay <i>really</i> is terrible again.
<i>Data compiled using Behind The Net's helpful charts, and the NHL.com event summary and boxscore</i>