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Zdeno Chara among finalists for the Norris Trophy

04.23.09 at 5:19 pm ET
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In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, the NHL announced today that Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is one of three finalists competing for the 2008-09 Norris Trophy, which is awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.’€ Chara joins Mike Green from the Washington Capitals and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings as this year’€™s three finalists. This is the second consecutive year Chara has been a finalist, and third time overall in his hockey career (2004 with Ottawa).

In full PWWA (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association) disclosure, I voted Chara as my top choice for both the Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy (hockey’s MVP) and think the big defenseman should have a legitimate shot to win both of hockey’s prestigious awards. Chara is clearly the best defensive defenseman in the game right now, and some have equated his abilities to that of a shutdown cornerback in football. He’s that effective at neutralizing whichever offensive stars he’s matched up against in a particular game. Add to that some of the best offensive numbers in his All-Star career, and this is the season that Chara should come from the NHL Awards Show with plenty of hardware. 

My ballot for the Norris:

1. Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
2. Mike Green Washington Capitals
3. Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings
4. Dan Boyle San Jose Sharks
5. Shea Weber Nashville Predators

Chara anchored a Bruins blue line that allowed the lowest goals per game figure in the NHL this season (2.29). He led the Bruins and ranked sixth overall in the league in average ice time (26:04) and finished the regular season with a career-high 19 goals, 31 assists and a +23 rating. His 19 goals ranked fourth in the league amongst all defensemen, while his 11 power play strikes ranked third.

Chara’€™s average ice time (26:04), hits (169) and blocked shots (123) are the highest amongst the other two Norris finalists.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’€™ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards show that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada

Read More: Boston Bruins, Mike Green, Zdeno Chara,

Bruins playoff tickets set to go on sale tomorrow morning

04.22.09 at 9:31 pm ET
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The Boston Bruins announced today that tickets for Game One and Game Two of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals will go on sale at 11:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 23. The dates, times and opponent of the Bruins games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals are still to be determined. The Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight after defeating the Montreal Canadiens four games to none in a best of seven game series.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, on www.bostonbruins.com, and via Ticketmaster. Given the limited number and high demand for tickets, the Boston Bruins and TD Banknorth Garden encourage fans to purchase tickets through www.bostonbruins.com and Ticketmaster.

Fans interested in learning more about Boston Bruins players, or ticket options, should visit the team website at www.bostonbruins.com or call 617.624.BEAR.

B’s sweep away the Habs and last season’s bad memories

04.22.09 at 8:02 pm ET
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MONTREAL — 18:31: Josh Gorges fires a puck in frustration after the whistle and hits Marc Savard right by the sideboards. No penalty, and no replay showing it on the Canadian broadcast up here.

The Rangers are up 2-0 on the Capitals after two periods, for those interested. If they can hold on, they’re looking really promising as Boston’s match-up in round two of the playoffs.

9:08: Really premature whistle by the refs after Tim Thomas kicked out a puck toward the front of the net. Refs blew the whistle with a live puck right in front of Boston’s net. Break for the B’s when the Canadiens could get a whiff of life with a goal here.

7:39: Savard just got banged by Latandresse and Kostopoulos in the corner and then skated slowly toward the Boston bench.

7:21: Komisarek went up high at Lucic over by the Boston bench and hit him with a little bit of stick and a lot of glove. Lucic was cut open on his left check and there’s blood coming down his face as he gets worked on by the trainers at the B’s bench. Five minute major and a game misconduct for Komisarek being served by Latandresse.

5:33: Somebody just threw what looked l ike a can or full glass of something at a Bruins fan wearing a Lucic jersey in the first row behind the boards near the Boston bench. The Fans have also started chanting ‘Bruins Suck’. Things could get ugly in and around Montreal tonight if this keeps up.

3:57: Now fans are chanting “Guy, Guy, Guy” and “Carbo, Carbo, Carbo” to show their displeasure for GM/Bench Boss Bob Gainey. They can’t decide if they hate the Bruins or hate themselves.

Would love to hear what Jack Edwards has come up with for tonight. Ah well.

The Bruins have beaten the Habs by a 4-1 score in Game 4 at the Bell Centre, and have swept the quarter-final series against their arch-rivals. This could be big down the line when they get into a seven-game series against a stronger opponent.

Kessel and Ryder rip the heart right out of Habs

04.22.09 at 7:10 pm ET
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17:46: Georges Laraque and Milan Lucic both going off for penalties. Larque picks his up after the whistle while harassing Lucic.

16:51: Great save by Tim Thomas on Josh Gorges and then down the other end Phil Kessel broke in behind the Bruins defense — but was stopped by Price.

12:27: Left post for Bergeron on a curl and drag move from just outside the left faceoff circle. He had Price beat with his wrist shot.

10:51: Nice play by Yelle who carried the puck into the corner, took the defense with him and then flipped to Shawn Thornton in front. Price stopped Thornton’s shot from in tight, but another strong shift from Boston’s fourth line.

8:02: Kessel in the box for slashing. A case of perfect timing as the puck finds him when he leaves the box at the end of the kill, and he motors in alone and wrists a puck inside the left post past Price. That’s a backbreaker for the Habs.

7:17: Another goal for Michael Ryder against his former team. This one was created by Krejci, who faked a shot at the sideboards and then found Ryder all alone streak to the night by the right post. Quick tape-to-tape pass and another goal for the Bruins. This baby is over.

4:20: Big mock cheer for Price when he makes a save on a dump-in attempt by the Bruins. The Habs fans have officially turned on their own.

00:41.5: Another round of Lucic and Komisarek. Lucic picked the right place and the right time to even a debt. Right in front of the Habs net, Lucic and his tormenter dropped the gloves and the B’s forward knocked him down with a quick right hand to the face.

00:18.3: Saku Koivu hog ties Patrice Bergeron and gets a penalty for holding.

Lots of boos at the end of the second period.

The B’s are leading the Canadiens by a 4-1 score at the end of two full periods during Game 4 at the Bell Centre.

Ryder, Krejci gives Bruins a stunning lead at end of first

04.22.09 at 6:15 pm ET
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 MONTREAL — 19:21: Just like that the Habs have got the crowd into it in an elimination game. Andrei Kostitsyn takes a well-executed drop back pass and fires a sniper shot to the top right corner with some screening in front of him.

17:22: Maxim Lapierre follows up on a shot and starts jawing with Tim Thomas after the whistle. The Habs are hitting and throwing a lot of pucks at Thomas from everyone on the ice.

16:05: Good hit by Mark Stuart. Alex Kovalev had the puck and was dangling through Bruins defenders with his head swiveled around, and Stuart laid a strong shoulder into him in the high slot and knocked him off the puck. Great defense.

14:45: Good pressure by Maxim Lapierre and Guillame Latandresse in the offensive end for the Habs. They had Thomas moving side-to-side and hugging both posts with quick shots from each side. The Canadiens seem to have even more jump than in Game 3. The B’s are receiving their best punch in this first period.

11:13: You can’t punch somebody in the head when they’re carrying the puck? Habs D-man Ryan O’Byrne off for roughing.

10:50: Michael Ryder for hooking. PP over for the Bruins after a near hook-up between Mark Recchi and Ryder just in front of the Montreal net.

8:41: More chatter between Lapierre and Thomas after the B’s goalie kept hold of the puck for a whistle.

6:15: Good tip attempt by Stephane Yelle from a long attempt by Steve Montador from just inside the blue line. The puck hit the side of the net, but it had some mustard on it.

5:52: Tom Kostopoulos in the box for Montreal with interference call. A little iffy. Second PP for Boston.

4:54: Good rip by Marc Savard from the right faceoff circle that ticked off Carey Price’s glove, hit the crossbar and then bounced back toward the boards.

2:33: Once again the Habs crowd is stunned at the end of a period. Roman Hamrlik and David Krejci were fighting for a loose puck in front of the net, and Hamrlik pried the puck loose and attempted to flick the puck out of the zone. He batted it right toward a rushing Michael Ryder, who popped a top shelf blast from the slot to even things up at 1-1.

00:34.2: The Bruins haven’t lost a game in regulation when David Krejci has scored a goal this year. That means this one should be over. Krejci fought off a Chris Higgins check and slash, flipped the puck to Ryder on the wing and then took a give-and-go pass back from Ryder. Wide open net and the B’s take a 2-1 lead into intermission.

The Bruins take a 2-1 lead at the end of one full period of play during Game 4 at the Bell Centre

Bitz not in the lineup for Game 4

04.22.09 at 6:12 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Canadiens fans chanting “Go Habs Go” with just a hint of boos during the Star Spangled Banner here at the Bell Centre. Not nearly as loud as last time, but still faintly present.

Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins, and Byron Bitz and Andrew Ference are the scratches for the Black and Gold.

A few tidbits before game-time at the Bell Centre

04.22.09 at 3:12 pm ET
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MONTREAL, Quebec — A few tidbits prior to game-time:

–Put-upon Montreal goalie Carey Price will get the start in net for Montreal. Both Andrei Markov and Robert Lang aren’t expected to play for a beat-up, beat-down Canadiens team that is clearly being backed into a corner on Wednesday night.

Claude Julien indicated pre-game that Milan Lucic will be back in the lineup, but he didn’t tip his hand as to whether that meant that Byron Bitz or Blake Wheeler was headed toward being a healthy scratch. Don’t be surprised to see Bitz remain in the lineup for this elimination game after looking so strong during Game 3.

–No Calder Trophy for Blake Wheeler, who didn’t finish among the top three candidates vying for the hardware. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards Show extravaganza in Las Vegas, Nevada this summer. Wheeler still has a chance to make the All-Rookie team with fellow forwards Bobby Ryan and Kris Versteeg, but Blues forward Patrik Berglund is also a pretty formidable candidate.

–The Canadiens have a little fan festival-type pavillion set up at 1260 De la Gauchetière Ouest, and there are three classic US vs. Russia bubble hockey games set up and ready for anybody to play. I tried to represent to the US well and won the first abbreviated game 1-0 over the New Bedford Standard-Times Mick Colageo, but fell 4-0 — and scored two goals on my own net — in the second full game. Mick was classy in victory, but the shame and embarassment I’m feeling right now following defeat is real and palpable. The next step is convincing my fiancee that we need bubble hockey for our condo, so I can practice my game. Don’t see that happening any time soon.

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Wednesday day that the club has signed Bemidji State University sophomore goaltender Matt Dalton, a pact that is a two-year, entry level deal.

This past season, Dalton helped the 16th seed Bemidji State Beavers earn their first Frozen Four berth in school history and became the lowest seeded team to reach a Frozen Four in NCAA tournament history. Dalton was brilliant in helping carry Bemidji to the Frozen Four, and went undrafted during his years of eligibility. In 31 games during the regular season, the 6-foot, 189-pounder compiled a 19-11-1 record with a College Hockey America Conference best 2.19 Goals Against Average and a .921 Save Percentage.

The 22-year-old sophomore from Clinton, Ontario spent the 2005-2006 season with the Bozeman IceDogs of the North American Hockey League and the 2006-2007 season with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League before joining Bemidji State in for the 2007-2008 campaign.

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