Five point nine percent.
That's how often the Bruins are scoring on the power play these days. To a seasoned hockey fan, that number speaks for itself, but let's try to give it a bit of context anyway. The average NHL team scores on roughly one out of six power plays. The Bruins are averaging a score on one out of seventeen. That's lousy. You know it, I know it, and I'm reasonably sure Claude Julien knows it. But there's no point in beating a dead horse. Let's look a little deeper and see if a turnaround is imminent, or if this is more of a systemic problem.
Last year, the Bruins scored on 17.2% of their power plays, just a whisker below the league average of 17.3%. The year before, it was 16.2%. Before that, 16.6%. In 2008-9, it was a fantastic 23.6%. In short, even with an abbreviated season where there will be fluky numbers all over the place, it's pretty damned unlikely that they're going to be scoring at a clip that resembles Shawn Thornton's shooting percentage. This, at least, is good news.
So, is that 5.9% just rotten puck luck? One good way to tell would be to see if the Bruins are putting a ton of shots on net. Reasonable minds can disagree about the usefulness of shot quality metrics, but it's a pretty universally held belief that more shots = more goals. If the Bruins are putting a ton of shots on net on the power play, we can probably expect a turnaround sooner than later. Over 60 minutes, the Bruins are averaging 35.5 shots in 5 on 4 situations. This puts the B's at 28th in the NHL in shots per 60 minutes on the power play. For perspective's sake, the Blue Jackets lead the league at 85.3. That's surely not sustainable, but the Sharks led the NHL last year with 62.9. Last year, the Bruins were at 46.6, 19th in the NHL, but were 24th in shooting percentage. There was a decent case to be made that the 2011-12 Bruins were the victim of poor puck luck on the power play. But this group? They're not putting anywhere near enough shots on net.
The short version is this: Boston must put more shots on net, period. Whatever changes to the lineup or scheme need to be made to accomplish this must be made, and sooner than later. I doubt the Bruins will continue averaging 35 shots per 60 minutes on the man advantage, but if they do, perhaps that Thornton-esque shooting percentage isn't far off the mark.
So Bruins, About That Power Play...
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