There can’t be a more helpless feeling than not being able to see anything that’s going on around you. With 6’9” Zdeno Chara towering over the net, NHL goalies know this problem all too well. And it looks like they’re going to need to get used to it.
Despite the team’s success, the Boston Bruins power play over the past ﬁve seasons has been described in a number of ways: ﬂat, disappointing, frustrating, shockingly poor, unbelievably infuriating, just to name a few. However you choose to put it, there is no doubt it’s been less than stellar.
Since the 2008-2009 season, the Bruin’s best finish on the power play was tied for 14th, scoring only a pathetic 17.2% of the time. It seemed no matter who coach Claude Julien decided to put on the ice, or what set play he sketched up, the B’s couldn’t light the lamp.
But that’s history.
The B’s scored two power play goals on Monday night in their preseason game against the Washington Capitals, and it wasn’t on accident. Both goals came off the stick of the big man Chara. The captain has spent more time wrestling with defensemen around the net and less time on his heels worrying about a short-handed attack. The results are obvious. In a game where goals are hard to come by, results are everything. It’s an easy concept. Just put the puck in the net.
The solution was simple. Get traffic in front of the cage. I know this is easier said than done in a league consisting of the world’s best skaters, but the Bruins have one advantage that no other team has – Chara. Chara is the biggest player in the NHL and also one of the toughest. When he’s on the ice, he looks like a high school bully pushing freshman around on the ﬁrst day of school. If Chara can establish a net presence, then a slap shot from the point will be in the back of the net before the goalie has time to blink.
During game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs last spring, B’s fans got a glimpse of how useful Big Z is in front of the net when he shielded goalie James Reimer, allowing Bruin’s forward Patrice Bergeron to score a late game-tying goal that Bruins fans (and Toronto fans) won’t soon forget.
With the NHL season set to kick off in about a week, there doesn’t seem to be many holes on this Bruins team that is stacked with proven veteran’s and promising rookies. With a new strategy on the one-man advantage, there seems to be more magic in store for the black and gold, who open their season at home on October 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightening.