Boston Bruins

There hasn’t been much to complain about with the Bruins this season.

They’ve been the league’s best team from the jump, and they continue to rack up records, seemingly every week at this point. (To that point, the Bruins have a chance to become the fastest team to 50 wins in NHL history Thursday night when they play host to Connor McDavid and the Oilers at TD Garden.) But if there’s one thing that’s left Jim Montgomery and the Bruins wanting more, it’s their power play.

Clicking at a 13.5 percent success rate since the start of February, Boston’s power play is ranked 25th in the league over that span entering tonight’s contest. It’s shown no signs of turning around, either, as the Bruins have converted on just three of their 22 power-play opportunities over their last seven games.

It’s all been enough for Montgomery to make a change that will debut tonight, with Dmitry Orlov expected to quarterback Boston’s top unit in place of usual quarterback Charlie McAvoy.

“Our power play is kind of stalled,” Montgomery said. “It’s been flat, right? And if you look at the Bergeron unit, they’ve scored two goals over the last I don’t know how many games and only one goal really was an in-zone goal [and it was in] DeBrusk’s first game back from injury. So we have the the opportunity to experiment, so we’re experimenting.”

  • CALGARY, CANADA - FEBRUARY 28: Dmitri Orlov #81 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during the first period of an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 28, 2023 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    CALGARY, CANADA – FEBRUARY 28: Dmitri Orlov #81 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 28, 2023 in Calgary. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

  • Fresh off First Star of the Week honors after a week that included three goals and nine points in just four games, the most obvious change that comes with Orlov’s move to the top unit is the fact that it gives the Black and Gold’s go-to power-play unit another absolute bomb of a shot on the backend.

    Montgomery previously praised Orlov as having a ‘top three’ shot on the team in terms of its power and ability to get on net, and puts him opposite David Pastrnak as the team’s shooting threats just inside the blue line.

    There’s a balance to be found there, of course, but there’s enough comfort in what they’ve seen from Orlov’s puck senses to date to not have any worries when it comes to his decisiveness with and without the puck.

    “What we’ve seen from [Orlov] is when it’s time to move it, he moves it, and when it’s time to shoot it, he shoots it,” Montgomery offered. “And that was just like, ‘Well, let’s give this a look.’

    “I think he has to establish his own shot to be able to open up the elbows.”

  • Feb 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

  • The other notable change that comes with pivoting from McAvoy to Orlov on ‘PP1’ comes with Orlov’s status a lefty-shooting defender over McAvoy’s righty stick.

    It’s a change that will impact more than just Orlov, as Montgomery explained.

    “I think it makes a difference to his immediate outlets as far as Pastrnak and Marchand, but not only them, but also Bergeron,” Montgomery said. “A lefty’s stick is in the middle of the ice and Bergy’s stick is in the middle of the ice, it’s a little bit of a harder pass with the lefty in that situation than it is a righty.

    “And depending on the chemistry among the players, if you look you know historically [John] Carlson going over to [Alex] Ovechkin, it’s a righty to a righty, and Krejci to Pastrnak is a righty to a righty. It’s an easier pass for a lefty to a lefty, going back down to Marchand just because you’re able to do everything on your forehand without turning your body to pass it. So a little more deception there when he goes back to Marchand as far as the goalie being able to read where he’s going with it.”

  • Mar 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

  • Of course, a lefty patrolling the top unit, while not typically the go-to of this unit, isn’t exactly foreign.

    With McAvoy on the shelf for the first 13 games of the season due to offseason shoulder surgery, the Bruins ran a top unit that featured the left-shooting Hampus Lindholm running the point. And with Lindholm out there with the Bruins’ other two big threats on the man advantage — Bergeron in the bumper and Pastrnak along the elbow for his one-time bomb — the Bruins have generated 69 scoring chances on 60 shots on goal, and scored 14 goals in just under 62 minutes of action. Replace Lindholm with McAvoy and it’s 132 scoring chances on 119 shots on goal, and 16 goals in 112 minutes and a half minutes of power-play time together.

    It’s not as simple as a lefty being an upgrade over the right-shooting McAvoy, and McAvoy’s production this season would tell you as much. But it’s clear that the Bruins are looking for a jump, and swinging to the left (and with a hot stick jumping up a unit) may very well do it.