Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy put an emphasis on the power play during Saturday’s afternoon’s abbreviated practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play in Friday’s night’s 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Toronto leads the series, 3-2, and the Bruins will need all facets of their game working effectively, including the power play, to avoid elimination Sunday (3 p.m.) at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
“We didn’t generate enough on it obviously,” Cassidy said. “They got the clears when they needed them.
“We left a few plays on the table when we didn’t connect on plays.”
The power play had been a staple of the Bruins’ success in the regular season (25.9 percent) and in the opening four games (45.5 percent) against the Leafs.
The Bruins were 2-for-2 on the power play in Wednesday night’s 6-4 victory in Toronto with defenseman Charlie McAvoy and right wing David Pastrnak each providing the finishing touch.
Defenseman Torey Krug, who supervises the Bruins’ first power play from the left point, believes they got away from what worked for them in Game 4.
“Our power play in Game 4 was great,” Krug said. “It was one or two passes, shoot the puck, regain control and retain possession.
“All of a sudden our seams are opening up and we are making plays and that was pretty apparent on Pasta’s second goal. I think it is just getting back to that mentality, one or two quick passes, shoot it on net, recover the puck and then all off a sudden plays open up.
“We have to get back to that.”
Cassidy said Patrice Bergeron was the Bruins’ most effective power play option in Game 5 despite the Leafs’ concerted efforts to collapse three skaters on the bumper.
“On the first power play, Bergy had our best chance on the bumper and we got the shot we wanted,” Cassidy said. “The second power play he was in all alone off the rush and got the shot that we wanted so I think Bergy was fine in that regards.
“They will collapse on Bergy but I thought he had our two best chances.”
The Bruins have gotten offensive production from their defensemen but McAvoy would like to see more.
In Game 4, McAvoy scored the opener and captain Zdeno Chara secured the game winner. Joakim Nordstrom potted an empty net goal for the final margin of victory. McAvoy, Chara, Krug and Matt Grzelcyk have combined for two goals and seven assists.
“We have to get ourselves right and focus on what had allowed us to have success and our backs are against the wall,” McAvoy said. “We knew what is at stake and everybody needs to play to the best of their ability.”
Mix and match
Cassidy isn’t afraid to reconfigure his line combinations but stayed pretty true to form in practice, especially on the first line with Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
There were a few wrinkles on third line with center Charlie Coyle flanked by Karson Kuhlman and Danton Heinen. David Krejci was aligned with Marcus Johansson and Jake DeBrusk, while Sean Kuraly was in the middle with Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari. The odd forward out of the mix was veteran right wing David Backes.
“The guys were all out there and the guys that skated are healthy,” Cassidy said. “We want to make a few adjustments but Tuukka (Rask) is going back in net and we’ll go from there.
“We are considering using (Kuhlman), he has played well for us and adds an element of speed and responsibility.”