Power-play outage bugs B's

Boston Bruins players celebrate their game-winning overtime goal on the Montreal Canadiens in Game...

Boston Bruins players celebrate their game-winning overtime goal on the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey series in Boston, April 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:42 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Well, at least the Boston Bruins' play at even-strength has been good during these playoffs.

They got by the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round despite their power play being minus-1 for the series. Boston failed to score against the Habs in 21 attempts over the seven-plus games and gave up a short-handed goal in Game 7.

For a team coming off a first-round victory, the B's have a laundry list of issues longer than Zdeno Chara's hockey stick heading into Game 1 Saturday (3 p.m.) of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Never mind that the Bruins still carry the baggage from blowing a 3-0 series lead against Philly last spring: History really was made.

The frustration with the power play on the part of Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli -- like that of everybody in the Bruins organization -- was evident in his pre-series meeting with the media.

"Trust me, this is a topic we've addressed all year, every day," Chiarelli said. "We've been on them so much to succeed. You reach a point where you're at diminishing returns as far as trying to make changes. It has been a frustrating exercise."

It wasn't supposed to be like this, not after Chiarelli went out and spent handsomely to bring in defenceman Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs in February.

"Tomas has been under some heat, too, and it's not his fault. He's trying to figure out," Chiarelli said.

The Bruins have been changing up their entries and puck recovery schemes, but even that blew up in their faces. They tried a different entry against the Habs in Game 7, but messed that up when defenceman Dennis Seidenberg tried to drop the puck to an on-rushing Mark Recchi. They fumbled the handoff and Montreal's Tomas Plekanec jumped on the turnover and scored on the breakaway.

"(Wednesday) night the giveaway was because we tried to change the entry, a delayed entry, and it didn't work," Chiarelli said. "We're having trouble getting set up. It's frustrating for me to watch. I know the guys want to succeed at it. I know the coaching staff has it at the top of their list. I know it's at the top of your (the media's) list. We're going to figure it out."

The Bruins have lacked a take-charge quarterback to run the power play. They spent the early part of their time on the ice Friday working on the power play with the following units: Point men Kaberle and Johnny Boychuk with David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton; and then Chara and Seidenberg with Recchi, Patrice Bergeron and Rick Peverley. Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand rotated in, as well.

When asked specifically about the absence of supreme passer Marc Savard, whose career could be over because of multiple concussions, and how it has hurt the power play, Chiarelli said: "He has got the eyes and the sense. He makes those plays. Not saying the guys who have filled his spot aren't worthy of that. We definitely miss him."

They're also missing Lucic, at least on the scoresheet. Their top goal scorer in the regular season was shut out by the Habs, although he did have an assist on Horton's winner in overtime of Game 7.

The first round is history, just like last spring.

"I think last year is last year, and this year is this year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "A lot of people are going to want to bring up the past. If anything, it's like Montreal. All the stats were probably against us with the odds and how the Bruins had fared against them in the past. (We were) down 2-0 ... the odds against us we overcame."

Making predictions is now a fool's game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but I feel pretty safe making this one: if the Bruins don't score a power-play goal against the Flyers, they're not beating them.


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