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Zdeno Chara named Norris Trophy finalist along with Duncan Keith, Shea Weber

04.28.14 at 11:30 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has been named a Norris Trophy finalist, the NHL announced Monday. The other two finalists are Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Nashville’s Shea Weber.

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.

Shawn Thornton on D&C: You feel rivalry with Montreal ‘once you put your jersey on’

04.28.14 at 11:11 am ET
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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.”

For more team news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Series-changers: Young defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug show their best in first round

04.26.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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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 »

Zdeno Chara proves again why he’s captain of the Bruins, and owner of the hardest shot on the team

04.26.14 at 10:10 pm ET
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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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Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, NHL

Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean break down Bruins’ first round win, look ahead to the Habs

04.26.14 at 9:15 pm ET
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WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean break down the Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday in Game 5 of their first-round series at TD Garden. The win clinched the series and set up a second-round date between the Bruins and their archrival Montreal Canadiens, with the Bruins holding home ice advantage. The series will likely start next weekend in Boston, giving both teams a chance to get well rested.

Read More: Boston Bruins, DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia, Montreal Canadiens

Tuukka Rask, Bruins earn a ‘breather’ while getting ready for ‘pretty familiar’ Canadiens

04.26.14 at 8:03 pm ET
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Here we go again.

Depending on whom was asked in the Bruins dressing room after Saturday’s 4-2 series clinching win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens are either just another opponent ahead in the playoffs or the obvious arch-rival that awaits in a long series.
Perhaps Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask had the best perspective after stopping 31 of 33 shots Saturday to lead the Bruins into the second round.

With the Flyers-Rangers and Penguins-Blue Jackets assured of going at least six games, the Bruins are assured of not starting their series until late next week, possibly as late as next Saturday at TD Garden. The team has Sunday off.

“I think people tend to make it a huge deal outside our locker room, but we’€™ve learned over the years that the more focus resting on our own doing and keep the focus on us, we get the better results, so for me and for everybody else I think it’€™s just another series we want to win and [we'€™re] looking forward to it,” Rask said. “They have a great team, so it’€™s going to be tough, but we’€™ll see.

“They’€™re a quick team. They’€™re a talented team, so I’€™m sure it’€™ll be entertaining for the fans. We’€™ll take a breather here for a couple days and then we’€™ll see when it starts, but we’€™ll enjoy this win today and then we’€™ll move on.”

Rask knows that while Detroit came in with the reputation of having a lot of speed, Montreal will be on a whole new level. Throw in familiarity, and the Bruins goalie knows full well what is in store for him.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bruins eliminate Red Wings, will face Canadiens next

04.26.14 at 5:53 pm ET
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The Bruins eliminated the Red Wings with a 4-2 series-clinching Game 5 victory Saturday to set up an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Canadiens.

Henrik Zetterberg made it interesting when he banged home the rebound off a Justin Abdelkader bid with 3:52 remaining to close what was a two-goal Bruins’ lead to one, but the Bruins held up the rest of the way and Jarome Iginla added an empty-netter to eliminate Detroit in five games.

Loui Eriksson scored his first power play goal as a Bruin when he beat Jonas Gustavsson in front for a power play goal 3:27 into the game while Justin Abdelkader was serving a hooking penalty. Gustavsson was playing a second straight game in place of regular starter Jimmy Howard, who the team said was dealing with the flu.

Boston’s lead held up until late in the second, when Pavel Dastyuk scored a power play goal at 14:41 of the period. From there a flurry of penalties called on both sides set up a Bruins’ four-on-three, with Zdeno Chara firing a slapshot past Gustavsson with 3.8 seconds remaining in the second.

Milan Lucic gave the B’s some breathing room by cashing in on a feed from Torey Krug in front 4:27 into the third. Krug had two assists on the day.

Earning the win was Tuukka Rask, who never let up more than two goals in a game this series. Rask ended up holding Detroit to six goals in five games with one shutout.

The Canadiens have awaited their next opponent since sweeping the Lightning on Tuesday. The teams last met in the postseason in the 2011 conference quarterfinals, with the Bruins eliminating Montreal in a seven-game classic en route to a Stanley Cup victory.

The conference semifinals will not begin until all other rounds are completed later next week.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– With a pair of power-play goals Saturday, the Bruins ended up scoring six goals on the power play in the series. That’s the most they’ve had in a series since they scored six on the man advantage against the Sabres in the 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Sabres. They saw the light at the end of the tunnel all season (they had the third-best power play in the regular season) and can now officially say their days of having no power play in the postseason are behind them.

– As he was throughout the series, Rask was big for the B’s in the first two periods. His biggest saves of the second included a stop on Henrik Zetterberg when the Detroit captain wheeled around to fire a shot off a Dastyuk faceoff win and moments later, when he stopped Daniel Alfredsson on the doorstep.

– Dougie Hamilton once again had way too easy a time skating the puck into the zone on a power play as Darren Helm repeated his passive performance from Game 2. Hamilton scored off it in the first period Tuesday and it led Eriksson’s goal Saturday.

– For all the you-know-what spearing and occasional sleepiness, Lucic still ended up with solid numbers for the series (three goals) and finished especially strong with key goals in the final two games and a big shift on Jarome Iginla’s game-winning goal in Game 4.

– The Bruins didn’t end up missing Chris Kelly or Daniel Paille too much in the series. Justin Florek filled in admirably for Kelly on Carl Soderberg’s left wing, while Jordan Carl was both physical and smart throughout the series. Florek and Caron scored a goal apiece in the series.

Going forward, the guess would be that Paille, who has been skating and was cleared for contact Thursday, could be available when the next round starts. Kelly, who is out with a back injury, has not skated since late in the regular season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins’ first line took two offensive zone penalties Saturday, and the second one cost them. David Krejci tripped Brendan Smith in the corner of the offensive zone in the first, but it was a high-sticking call against Milan Lucic in the second that gave Detroit the power play on which Datsyuk scored the equalizer.

In general, the penalties got out of hand when the officiating crew got whistle-happy throughout the second period. Lucic’s penalty was followed by a holding call against Danny DeKeyser, then a weak goalie interference call against Eriksson, a Johan Franzen holding penalty and finally a cross-checking call on Brendan Smith. Jarome Iginla drew two of the penalties that came during that three-minute stretch of penalty-calling madness.

It didn’t even end there, as Marchand was sent off for roughing in the opening minute of the third.

– Speaking of penalties, Shawn Thornton racks up the penalty minutes with all the fighting he does, but it’s rare that he takes a minor penalty. He had seven in the regular season, but with Saturday’s high-sticking penalty in the first period, he has now taken two minors this round.

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