|04.29.14 at 1:18 pm ET|
Bruins forward Daniel Paille said after Tuesday’s practice that he has been cleared to play after recovering from a suspected head injury.
Paille hit his head on the ice after a hit from Jake McCabe on April 12 and missed the entire first-round series against the Red Wings. Given that Paille had two concussions earlier in the season, he said Tuesday that the team was extra careful in bringing him back this time.
“Because it’s my third injury this year, there’s a lot more precautions to kind of rule out,” Paille said. “I believe I could have played midway through the series — I didn’t feel like I had too long of any symptoms/injuries — but there was a lot of precautions and I had to continue with that process.”
Paille began taking light contact last Thursday, but Tuesday’s practice saw him participate in battle drills. As for the notion that he could have been brought back sooner, Claude Julien said the Bruins simply followed protocol during the last round.
“I waited for the OK from our doctors. That’s basically what I waited for,” Julien said. “To say that he might have been ready, I needed to know that he was ready. I know he’s ready for the next round now.”
Paille practiced Tuesday on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in place of Brad Marchand, who did not practice. With Paille back, the assumption is that he will slide back into his old spot on the fourth line in place of Jordan Caron. Julien cautioned against assuming Paille is in the lineup just because he is cleared, but there is no doubt that Paille would be an asset against the speedy Habs.
“We’ll see where we are, guys,” Julien said. “The series hasn’t started yet and we haven’t made any decisions yet. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.”
Dennis Seidenberg also practiced Tuesday, but he did not take contact. Julien said that Seidenberg is skating with the team to prevent the “boredom” that comes from skating on his own each day. Seidenberg was initially ruled out for the season after tearing his ACL/MCL in late December, but he is well ahead of schedule in his recovery.
“It’s great to see. It gives you an emotional lift to see your teammate battling like he’s been battling just to be better,” Bergeron said. “Obviously he’s been doing that for a while. It’s nice to see him back out there, and obviously I don’t know what the timeline is there.”
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|04.29.14 at 11:22 am ET|
Paille, who has been cleared for contact since last Thursday, participated in battle drills and skated on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in place of Marchand. Seidenberg did not take contact.
Seidenberg skated on an extra pairing with Andrej Meszaros, with the rest of the lineup looking like this:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Paille – Bergeron – Smith
Florek – Soderberg – Eriksson
Caron – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller
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|04.28.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien gets visibly annoyed when people talk about other teams’ speed being an issue for the Bruins, or the Bruins being too big and slow to hang with any squad with zip.
Turns out Peter Chiarelli does too.
After eliminating a fast team in five games, the Bruins once again face a speedy opponent in the Canadiens, and they’d like to be given a little more credit.
“It’s too [much of a] stereotype, and we’ve improved our speed,” Chiarelli said Monday. “I just hear about it all year, too, and obviously Claude and I talk, and we get tired of it. We have speed and we have heaviness and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’s coming from, I understand when you bring it up in the context of the Wings and now the Canadiens because they are — they’re both fast teams.”
Chiarelli traded away a lot of speed last summer when he shipped Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, but the team has hardly turned into a bunch of cavemen on skates. The development of strong skaters on the back end in Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has actually made the Bruins a faster team in getting out of their zone and getting through the neutral zone.
Montreal is faster, to be sure, but the Bruins have quickness of their own to go with their physicality, which was seen throughout Boston’s five-game elimination of the Wings.
“It’s about closing gaps more quickly. It’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys. It’s about our special teams,” Chiarelli said. “Both our PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success.”
Indeed they have. The Bruins scored six power-play goals in a series for the first time since 2010 in going 6-for-15 on the power play while holding the Red Wings to two goals on 20 Detroit power plays.
The biggest victim of the “Bruins are slow” narrative is Zdeno Chara, both literally and otherwise. The 6-foot-9 Norris finalist has never been a great skater, and the fact that he’s gotten up there in age and got injured late last postseason has painted the picture in some minds that he can be exposed. That’s yet to really happen though.
“We can’t really control what’s being said about us or maybe other teams, when they play us,” Chara said. “It’s more how we’re going to play and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we are a slow team. Obviously we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’t think we are necessarily a slow team.
“I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I know what we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”
Said Chiarelli: “Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience. So it will be a challenge, but I think we’ll overcome that challenge.”
|04.28.14 at 11:30 am ET|
Chara won the league’s top defensive honor in 2009 and finished in the top three in voting in 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2012. Keith won the award in 2010, but hasn’t finished higher than sixth in voting any other year. Weber has never won the award, but he finished second in voting in both 2011 and 2012.
Chara ranked third in points among the group of finalists with 40, but his 17 goals were just six behind Weber’s 23, which were tops among all defensemen. Keith ranked second among all defensemen with 61 points (6 goals, 55 assists), while Weber was third with 56.
Chara posted a plus-25 rating on the season, while Keith finished at plus-22 and Weber at minus-2. Perhaps the strongest case for Chara comes from advanced stats — a case we detailed here last month.
Updating those numbers and applying them to this three-way comparison leaves Chara looking pretty good. He was used in more defensive situations than Keith (48.3 percent offensive zone starts vs. 57.3 percent for Keith) while facing tougher competition (29.9 percent quality of competition vs. 28.9 percent for Keith) and still put up a nearly identical CorsiRel (+1.8 percent vs. +2.0 percent for Keith). Basically, Keith was used in a role that gave him more offensive opportunities, while Chara was used in a true shutdown role. And yet, Chara still swung possession in his team’s favor nearly as much as Keith.
Weber started in the defensive zone more than Chara (44.6 percent offensive zone starts), but actually finished with a negative CorsiRel (-0.7 percent), meaning that while Weber was used in similar situations as Chara, he didn’t drive possession for his team as much as Chara did.
Here is a visual representation of all those numbers via ExtraSkater.com. The pink for Weber indicates his negative Corsi, while Chara and Keith get the positive blue.
|04.28.14 at 11:11 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the team’s win over the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs and its upcoming series with the Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins clinched a trip to the second round after defeating the Red Wings in five games. In Game 5, Zdeno Chara gave Boston a lead that it would not give up when he made it a 2-1 game with four seconds left in the second.
“That was a huge goal for us,” Thornton said. “The timing was unbelievable. I think he, obviously, tried to put it through the back of the net, but with [four] seconds left in the period put us back up. I think that was a real kick start for us.”
With the win, the Bruins will move on to play a heated rival — the Canadiens.
“You feel (the rivalry) once you put your jersey on the first time going to the rink or the first time they come to you,” Thornton said. “The way both cities are into it, the history of it, you embrace it. It’s a fun rivalry.
“I think Montreal’s very, very opportunistic with their goal-scoring ability. I think — from what I can remember — they’re very dangerous around the net. They have guys who put the puck in. They have tall, speedy guys. Their (general manager) Marc Bergevin has done a pretty good job with getting them a little bit of sand paper and grit in the last year too, trying to not be all speedy guys. They’re a well built team.”
Thornton added that while Montreal’s Bell Centre is one of the most challenging buildings to play in, he also enjoys the atmosphere.
“Their crowd’s on top of you, somehow. And every once and awhile, they can force a ref into calling penalties,” Thornton said. “It’s not the easiest building, but it’s almost the most fun place to play on the road too because you can feed off the energy in there. … It’s got a good energy, and you can feed off it from both sides, I think.”
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|04.26.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
The goals stand out. Dougie Hamilton went end to end before sniping the top corner in Game 3. Torey Krug ripped a slap shot past Jonas Gustavsson right off a faceoff in Game 4.
Some of the assists stand out, too. Hamilton led a breakout and then made a beautiful pass through center ice to Milan Lucic to help set up a goal in Game 4. He put together another end-to-end rush in Saturday’s Game 5 that led to a Loui Eriksson goal.
Krug made a nice breakout pass to Lucic back in Game 2 that led to a goal. On Saturday, he picked off a pass at the offensive blue line and set up Lucic (think he likes playing with these guys?) for the goal that proved to be the game-winner.
But Hamilton and Krug’s excellence in the Bruins’ series win over the Red Wings goes beyond those highlights. The young, offensively-gifted defensemen could have had even more than the four and five points they posted, respectively, because they helped create more than just nine scoring chances.
What about that post Hamilton hit in Game 3? How about that open net that Brad Marchand somehow missed after Krug gave him a perfect pass in Game 4? Oh, and Hamilton and Krug were each on the ice for just one goal against.
Throughout the series, the dynamic youngsters made breakouts look easy. They made leading rushes look easy. And they made creating scoring chances look easy.
Here’s the thing, though: those things aren’t easy. But this is what Hamilton and Krug can do when they’re playing their best hockey. They use their skating and vision to turn breakouts into offensive rushes. They keep plays alive in the offensive zone and hold the puck until they find an open teammate. They get their shots through and aren’t afraid to really step into one if they have the space. And they do it without getting caught up ice.
That last part is key. Hamilton and Krug were gifted offensive players before they even got to Boston. The Bruins have always encouraged them to use those gifts, but Hamilton and Krug had to learn when to use them. Against Detroit, they almost always picked the perfect spots. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.26.14 at 10:10 pm ET|
Apparently Zdeno Chara believes in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, and an even bigger shot.
In the moments after he helped the Bruins eliminate the Red Wings with 100 MPH power play rocket at the end of the second period, Chara didn’t want to look ahead to Montreal.
Instead, he wanted to focus only on the effort of his teammates and how much he appreciated advancing to the second round in a series win that was much tougher than a 4-1 outcome in favor of the Bruins.
“Well, that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” Chara said. “Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn’t a one-sided series; it was much closer, like I said than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”
The key moment of the game came when Brendan Smith, Reilly’s brother, took a bad cross checking penalty in the final 15 seconds of the second period, creating a 4-on-3 power play chance for the Bruins. The Bruins did what Cup contenders do, they took advantage as Patrice Bergeron won a battle near the far boards and fed Chara, who was all alone in the high slot. With 3.8 seconds left in the period, Chara let fly with a laser.
“Well we had only a few seconds left and [it was] kind of a 50-50 puck down low,” Chara said. “We won the battle for the puck and Bergy just showed how quickly he can see the opening and made a really great pass to me. I mean – I was emotional. It was a big game and a big goal. So, I’m not afraid to show it.”
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