June 2. That’s the last time the Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins scored a single power-play goal. If that doesn’t seem remarkable, consider this: These two teams crushed their Conference finals opponents while combining to convert on just one of their 27 power-play opportunities.
Clearly, they were able to overcome this issue, but going into a series as even as this one, being the more successful team with the man advantage would be huge.
Although neither team has traditionally been this bad, power-play problems are nothing new for the Bruins. They ranked 26th in that regard during the regular season and when they won it all in 2011, they had an abysmal 11.4% success rate with the man advantage.
To make matters worse for Boston, the Chicago Blackhawks have been among of the most effective penalties killers all year.
“I think they do a good job of fronting shots,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told CBC Sports in reference to the Blackhawks’ penalty killers. “You really have to work hard to get the shots through. That’s what they are, they’re very patient; they’re very aggressive when you do lose, I guess, control of the puck and if they feel they can get on you, they’ll get on you quick. They’ve done a good job that way.”
So while the Bruins have nowhere to go but up, the odds are against them when it comes to excelling in power-play situations.
The outlook might not be as grim for Chicago. The Blackhawks were mediocre with the man advantage this season, which puts them above Boston in that regard. Boston is accomplished when it comes to killing penalties, but — aside from obviously Marc Savard (concussion) — the only noteworthy player on either team that’s injured happens to be forward Gregory Campbell, who was one of the Bruins’ top penalty killers.
“It just means some other guys have to step in and do the job,” Julien said. “[Campbell] is an elite penalty killer for us. Like anything else, when you lose a player like that it certainly hurts your team. But at the same time, there’s also guys that come up and step up and do a great job just like our young Ds did when our three Ds were hurt.”
In the end, with two squads that are cold in power-play situations and superb shorthanded, it wouldn’t be surprising if neither team is able to frequently punish the opposition for taking penalties.