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Boston Bruins: Specialty Teams Provide Spark When Stars Can't

Talk has been going on about the best players needing to be the best players for the Bruins. But members from the special teams have been showing their skills and covering up the mistakes that would otherwise be glaring.

Let’s talk about the character of a team. More specifically, the character of the Boston Bruins team after last night’s 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Of the Bruins four goals, three of them were specialty situations, and not the normal 5-on-5 play. Chris Kelly scored two goals--one on the shorthand, and the other just a minute after the Bruins finished a power play. Zdeno Chara scored the B’s first goal in the first period on the power play. And then of course, Brad Marchand sealed the deal with 1:09 to go in the third period with an empty netter.

But arguably the most important goal of the game for the Bruins was the shorthanded goal by Kelly to tie the game at two. Kelly now has both of the shorthanded goals for the Bruins this year, and they have come at the right times. In fact, Kelly has scored in seven games this year, and every time he scores, Boston has come up with the win.

Though, he has a little help.

The shorty last night was a thing of beauty, thanks to the perseverance of Rich Peverley. Kelly battled along the boards in his own end and poked it out to the neutral zone towards Peverley. Peverley skated along the right wing and shouldered his way through two defensemen before skating right up in front of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. After putting a shot on net and being pushed out of the crease, Kelly followed up crashing through the slot and just buried the rebound left behind.

And according to former Bruin, and current Jets defenseman Mark Stuart, that was the turning point of the game, and it was the B’s PK unit that did them in.

"Well I thought five-on-five we played a good game," Stuart said. "We got into some trouble there in the second with some penalties, but also they took over control of the game on their penalty kill. You never want momentum to shift when you’re on the power play, but I think that special teams was a shift in that second period and we never recovered."

The penalty kill for Boston is one of those aspects of the game that doesn’t get mentioned that often. They are so good at what they do, that unless something goes wrong, they are rarely talked about. That’s the nature of the unit. They know they are out there doing a job, and as Claude Julien mentioned a couple of games back when they played against Edmonton, that the PK has always been a strong facet for the B’s.

"We really feel like we’ve got a lot of depth in that area," Julien said back on November 10. "That’s one place that we never run short."

The Bruins are 8th in the league on the penalty kill, stopping 85.9% of the power plays they face. Though there is no category for almost scoring a goal on the PK, the B’s have constantly been a force and problem with one man down.
Veteran to the unit, Daniel Paille relishes in being able to add that pressure and production to that line, even though it doesn’t get much attention in the headlines.

"I think that’s something not just myself, but all of us penalty killers take pride in," Paille said about providing the peace of mind on the PK. "Specifically when you see an opportunity to create a chance you want to take advantage of it and we were able to capitalize on that. So I know it’s a good compliment from the other team noticing that."

With those specialty goals, the Bruins now improve to 14-7-1, second in the conference and first in the division. They travel to Toronto on Wednesday for their final game in the month of November--a 30-day span in which the Bruins accumulated 23 points over 12 games. Though the first line has been failing to produce the past couple of games, the three other lines have found a way to contribute, and that has made all the difference in their record.

"Well I think that's one of our strengths is we have four lines that are consistent, all can contribute offensively and all can play defense," Kelly said. "I think you can have every line out there if, last minute up by a goal and all the guys are going to get the job done. I don't know any other team that can do that."