BOSTON -- While not much has gone right for the Bruins all season, their penalty kill has been a power-play-wrecking monster since about four weeks into the season.
Boston’s man-advantage extermination, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NHL, was at its best in the team’s pivotal 2-1 win over the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon, with a 6-for-6 performance against the Rangers’ middle-of-the-road power play.
“Usually we do a pretty good job and today we really did the things we wanted to do,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, who anchored the perfect outing. “We scout them, of course, so we know what they’re going to do, or what they usually do, and what we want to do. And sometimes we just let things slip and let them make the plays they want, but today we didn’t. So it’s good for us.”
In a game between two of the league’s worst offenses, everyone knew power plays were going to make a difference. It became particularly crucial for Boston to take care of business when Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman went to the box consecutively, resulting in 11 seconds of 5-on-3 for the Rangers late in the first period.
And then close to the midway point of the second period, with the game still scoreless, Chara high-sticked Marian Gaborik and earned four minutes of penalty time. Almost miraculously, without their top penalty-killer, the Bruins kept the Rangers off both the score sheet and the shot counter.
“I think the penalty kill obviously was important, because they had a few chances,” said defenseman Andrew Ference, who had to increase his ice time to make up for Chara’s misdeeds. “But that four-minute one and that little bit of a two-man advantage we had, those are really big momentum-builders for us. You could hear the guys on the bench rallying behind those, so it was good because we didn’t have a whole lot as far as power play to get our team all fired up.”
The Bruins forwards played as big a role in snuffing out New York’s power plays as the defensemen and goaltender.
“It was solid,” said Ference. “I think that sometimes you’re kind of just hanging on the penalty kills. But I think the forwards did a good job up ice distracting their breakout, and when they do that that allows us to be a little more aggressive when they’re trying to enter our zone.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg also had to carry some extra work on the back end of the penalty kill. He continues to be impressed by the shorthanded efforts of the team he joined just three weeks ago.
“I think they’re smart positionally. They force you into the right spots where you don’t really have much,” he said. “They kind of give you the outside, but once you have that you only have a bad-angle shot. Things like that, it’s hard to play against. And on the forecheck they’re aggressive in interrupting the breakouts.”