Chicago’s powerless power play — it’s a problem


It looked like 2011 all over again.

Midway through the first period of Boston’s 2-0 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins forwards Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton took less-than-genius roughing penalties, giving the Blackhawks four minutes of power play time.

And — much like what happened repeatedly against Vancouver two years ago — the penalties didn’t cost the B’s.

Some will say the Bruins killed ’em with aplomb, others will argue the ‘Hawks frittered ’em away. But whatever the case, one thing is crystal clear — if Chicago doesn’t start scoring on the power play soon, its going to be in major trouble.

In the 2011 Cup Final, Vancouver went a ghastly 2-for-33 on the power play and the deeper the Canucks’ struggles went, the more the Bruins took liberties, often risking a penalty to impose their physicality.

The risk was worth it ’cause hey, killing the penalty was a virtual lock.

While it’s not quite to that level in 2013, it’s close.

The ‘Hawks were 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 3. That puts them at 0-for-11 for the series and zero for their last 15 all told.

Head coach Joel Quenville was visibly displeased following the game.

“Our power play tonight was definitely not good,” he said. “[The Bruins] box you out. They’ve got big bodies that block shots.

“We had chances to get pucks on the net, and we didn’t. Our entries weren’t great.”

Some other gruesome statistics:

— Chicago’s PP is 1-for-27 on the road in the playoffs.

— Patrick Kane led the team with eight PPG in the regular season.

— He has zero this postseason.

— The ‘Hawks registered just four power play shots in Game 3 on 8:11 of PP time.

— Chicago’s PP is now at 11.5 percent (7-for-61) for the playoffs, worse than its PP in the regular season (which, at a 19th-best 16.7 percent, wasn’t that great.)

On the flip side, the Bruins deserve a ton of credit for how well they’ve killed penalties. The last time they allowed a PPG was in Game 5 of the Rangers series, and have killed 25 straight since then.

But if you’re Chicago — well, you just have to make something happen with the man advantage.

The Bruins are one of the NHL’s best teams at even strength, and they’ve shown it this postseason. They lead all teams with 43 goals 5-on-5, and have only allowed 27 — a differential of plus-16.

The key to beating Boston is to make them pay for mistakes.

If the ‘Hawks don’t start doing it soon, they’re going to get Canuck’d right out of this series.

Video: Gaudreau, Ryan, Orlov star in Goals of the Week

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Three stellar individual efforts in our latest offering.

First up, it’s red-hot Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, with his third-period goal in an eventual OT loss to Detroit. Ryan now has 20 points in 21 games this season, and six in his last five.

Next, it’s Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, who walked off what was arguably the Flames’ best win of the year — a 2-1 OT victory over the defending champion Blackhawks.

Finally, it’s Caps blueliner Dmitry Orlov, with one of the weirdest-looking goals in recent memory.

From the Washington Post:

“No one knew where the puck was,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said.

“Houdini,” goaltender Braden Holtby said.

“I had no clue,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought it was in the stands. I had no idea.”

The goal was also Orlov’s second of the season, meaning he’s just one shy of matching his career best.

After 20-game absence, Elias to make season debut for Devils

Patrik Elias
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It took a while, but Patrik Elias‘ campaign is ready to get underway.

Elias, who’s yet to play this year because of a knee injury, says he’ll be in the New Jersey lineup tonight when the Devils host the Blue Jackets at Prudential (per The Record).

The 39-year-old’s presence should provide an emotional lift in front of the home crowd.

A lifelong Devil — only Ken Daneyko and Martin Brodeur have appeared in more games — fans may be witnessing Elias’ last year in uniform. It’s fair to suggest he could be on the verge of retirement, given he’s in the last of a three-year, $16.5 million deal and will turn 40 in April.

As for tonight, it’s not yet official who Elias will play with — or how much he’ll play. He did take line rushes with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Matteau at Tuesday’s practice.

After three-game absence, Johnson back for Bolts this week

Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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The Lightning have a busy stretch of the schedule coming up, with three games in the next four nights.

And it sounds like they’ll get a big lineup reinforcement to help them through it.

Per LA Kings Insider — the Kings are in Tampa tonight — Bolts head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Tyler Johnson will be back in the lineup “at some point” this week, after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury.

Johnson has been out of the lineup since taking a Dave Bolland hit on Nov. 14. The timing of the injury was lousy, especially since Johnson looked to be rounding into form — after a rough October in which he failed to score a goal and had just five points in 12 games, Johnson was playing well in November, with three goals and five points in his first six games.

There’s no denying the Bolts could use Johnson back in the mix.

The club has been ravaged by injury lately and is currently without the services of Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and Cedric Paquette at forward.

The injuries are a big reason why Tampa is off to a mediocre 10-9-3 start. That said, the team has looked good in each of its last two games — a 2-1 win over the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, followed by a 5-0 blowout of the Ducks on Saturday.

As for when Johnson might get back in? The Bolts play tonight at home against L.A., on Friday in Washington, then back at home on Saturday against the Islanders.

Will the Bruins re-sign Loui Eriksson?

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Loui Eriksson, one of the key pieces Boston acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade, is in the last of his six-year, $25.5 million deal and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

And, at least for now, there doesn’t appear to be much certainty about his future as a Bruin.

“I’ll never, ever comment publicly in regard to individual players and negotiations and such,” B’s GM Don Sweeney told the Boston Herald this week. “Whether (comments) come out from the other side or wherever, they’re not going to come from me.

“He’s a big part of our team and he’s off to a really good start.”

Eriksson is certainly off to a good start — nine goals and 18 points in 20 games, his highest points-per-game average (.90) since coming to Boston, and the second-highest of his career.

He’s also playing nearly 20 minutes per night, enjoying great chemistry playing alongside David Krejci and, after an injury-riddled first year as a Bruin followed by last year’s playoff miss, seems to have really found his groove.

So why the silence on the extension front?

Two weeks ago, Eriksson told the Globe his agent, J.P. Barry, hasn’t had any discussions with Sweeney about re-signing in Boston.

“There’s not much you can really do about it now,” the 30-year-old Swede explained. “I’m trying to focus on playing good and trying to help this team as much as possible. Then we’ll see what happens after this year.”

Obviously, money is a factor.

Looking ahead, Boston’s current cap crunch doesn’t project to get much lighter. The club already has $61 million in salary committed for next season (per War On Ice), and Sweeney has to be mindful of other important contracts on the horizon.

Torey Krug is a restricted free agent at year’s end, and in line for a raise on the $3.4 million he made this season. Brad Marchand will be a UFA following the ’16-17 campaign.

And you’d think Sweeney would want to keep money free to eventually sort out Boston’s defense. The blueline has been an issue this season; it’s also getting old and will likely need an injection of new blood in the near future.

There’s also the question if, should he head to free agency, Eriksson couldn’t be replaced internally. The B’s are flush with young wingers — Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, Seth Griffith, David Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano and Alexander Khokhlachev are all 26 or under — which could make Eriksson expendable.