BOSTON — While Mika Zibanejad was out for 13 games with an upper-body injury, coach David Quinn used Ryan Strome in Zibanejad’s place on the first power-play unit, with Artemi Panarin in his preferred spot on the left wing, Chris Kreider in his preferred spot in front of the net, rookie Kaapo Kakko on the right wing and either defenseman Adam Fox or Tony DeAngelo as the point man.
With Zibanejad back, Quinn kept Strome on the first unit and dropped Kakko to the second unit, and all was well Wednesday in a 3-2 victory over Carolina, with Zibanejad scoring a power-play goal.
But the power play went 0-for-6 against Boston on Friday, failing on a five-on-three in the second period and on a four-minute advantage late in the third. And it’s possible Zibanejad’s return had something to do with it.
Dropping Kakko from the first unit means that unit has four righthanded shots (Kreider is the only lefty) and no lefthander set up to take one-timers from the right-wing circle. And the second unit suffers, too. Kakko and Buchnevich are lefthanded shooters who set up in that right circle, and having both on the same unit forces one of them to do something different.
It also forces Quinn to remove either Brendan Lemieux or Filip Chytil from the second unit, meaning the group is either without a net-front man (Lemieux) or a centerman (Chytil).
“Yeah, that does change [things],’’ Quinn said when asked about Zibanejad’s return affecting the power play. “And we haven’t had a chance to practice since he’s been back so, you know, I think once we get a chance to maybe have a few practices, we’ll have more synergy and more continuity on both units.’’
Notes & quotes: Greg McKegg missed his third game with a lower-body injury and Micheal Haley again was the healthy scratch.