FF Telestrator: Understanding the Bruins PK
With about a decade off in between series, we might as well get to know the enemy a little bit.
The Penguins are preparing to host the Bruins for game one of the Eastern Conference semi-finals this weekend. While we know the Penguins were 3-0 against the Bruins this season, how do these teams stack up against each other from a systematic standpoint?
So, let’s take a look at the penalty kill.
Do not fall asleep on the Boston penalty killers.
Boston may have an 81% success rate on the PK thus far thist post-season, but their aggressive approach is nothing to mess with. The Penguins floundered at the end of the Ottawa series with the man advantage, allowing two key shorthanded goals in games three and four.
Let’s look at how quickly the Bruins penalty kill hounds the puck carrier.
The Bruins are all over Iginla at the point. More importantly, they’re about to read the simple play Iginla is going to make along the wall to Beau Bennett. Bennett immediately gets pressed and has to dump the puck off as well.
The Bruins also have their own net taken care of. They’re man on man against the Penguins that are down low in front of the cage.
There really isn’t a lot of room out there against these guys. The Penguins have to make room, which is easier said than done. Iginla gives us a little lesson here on how to start, though.
The puck goes to Bennett. He’s immediately swarmed by the Bruins defense. Now, the other penalty killers will attempt to seal off the lanes and isolate Bennett along the wall.
This is a very aggressive approach. The Bruins do a great job of disrespecting the opponents power-play. They refuse to allow any time or space.
We made mention last year of how to tell when the Pens power-play was in trouble. When they face an aggressive penalty kill, the two players along the boards find themselves along the blue line adjacent to the player at the point of the umbrella.
Well, the Bruins had effectively done the same thing to the Penguins in this sequence after Bennett sends the puck back to Jarome Iginla.
The Penguins are a bit stuck here. They have three players stacked across the blueline, a pretty clear indication of trouble.
So, Jarome Iginla makes his own space with a give and go. The goal against the Bruins is to keep the puck moving, keep them guessing, and try to get the penalty kill to bite on a play that isn’t there.
This is an extremely key sequence. A few things take place here.
1. Kunitz goes to the front of the net and screens Rask.
2. Iginla initiates a give-and-go with Jokinen.
3. Because Jokinen touches the puck in the slot, the Bruins PK reacts to that. Chara steps up on Jokinen and abandons Kunitz in front.
4. Iginla has a clear shooting lane into a screen.
This is huge, huge stuff here. The Penguins need to provide good puck support and make smart give-and-go plays to draw the Bruins into thinking that their rover in the slot is a threat to shoot.
The Bruins have boxed in on Jokinen, who has already released the puck back to Iginla.
What was once a tight space for Iginla has now become a wide open pasture to shoot the puck into a screen with ease.
This give-and-go completely caught the Bruins aggressive penalty kill by surprise.
Iginla sends it in. Kunitz has a screen. Chara is on an island.
Pretty much picture perfect. The Penguins can’t be indecisive with the puck. And even though the Bruins PK has lost a little bit of its aggressive tone this post-season, the fact of the matter is they can make life fairly difficult for their opponent.
The good news is the Penguins power-play features a cast of characters that often times think one step ahead of the competition.