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Gord Kluzak on D&C: Zdeno Chara in front of net ‘a waste of energy and time’

Posted By Matt Goisman On June 6, 2011 @ 11:04 am In General | No Comments

NESN Bruins analyst and former defenseman Gord Kluzak called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [1].

Kluzak said that the Bruins could have won either of the first two games had they played slightly better.

“I think they have had breakdowns at times that have really hurt,” Kluzak said. “I think if they get back to what they can do – and the model is Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay — this thing is very winnable. I’m much more optimistic than I hear you guys were this morning.

“I don’t think Vancouver is as good as advertised. I’ve never been overly impressed with the Sedins. I think [Ryan] Kessler may be hurt, the way that [Johnny] Boychuk hit happened early on in Game 2. I didn’t think Kessler was the same player, and I think if you’re the Bruins you’re trying to be as physical as you can with him because he is the key, in my opinion. I think this is still very winnable. The Bruins obviously have to play near-perfect hockey, but I think they can do that.”

Kluzak said two specific adjustments the Bruins should make is getting Zdeno Chara away from the net on the power play and including Rich Peverley on the Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line.

“Chara up front in the power play is just a waste of energy and time,” Kluzak said. “Look at the way Milan [Lucic] scored his goal. It was a rebound in front. Well, that’s what the power play is all about. That’s why you need him out there, and it doesn’t help you to have the guy that you rely on the most in your own zone up front of the net on the power play when you have a guy that’s probably better at it and would be more suited to it.”

Kluzak said he thought that Peverley’s speed “would open the ice up a little bit more for Bergeron.”

Kluzak said he did not think fatigue is an issue for Chara. “This is a guy who rides 110 miles on a bike through the mountains every summer day,” Kluzak said. “This guy is the best-conditioned athlete I think I’ve ever seen.”

Despite Shawn Thornton‘s physicality, Kluzak said more playing time for the enforcer is not the answer for the Bruins.

“The guy you would have to take out of the lineup is [Daniel] Paille, and Paille is an outstanding penalty-killer,” Kluzak said. “He’s executed that, and I think you really need that skill set. You don’t want to use your better offensive players in that penalty-killing situation.”

Through two games, Roberto Luongo has looked very comfortable in the Vancouver net. Kluzak said increased offensive pressure could rattle him.

“I’ve seen Roberto Luongo in real pressure situations start to fight the puck,” Kluzak said. “I don’t think his glove hand is all that good, and we haven’t tested him. … The Bruins have to get in close, they have to test him up top, they have to get screens in front, they have to look for the rebounds, they have to bump into him a little bit if they can, get him off his game.”

Tim Thomas, meanwhile, has played an aggressive style of goaltending that worries Kluzak.

“If I’m Vancouver, I’m definitely looking to take advantage of it,” Kluzak said. “I’m definitely driving wide, I’m looking to make a path last minute and take advantage of that wide-open net. I’m looking to fake a shot and go around him and score a goal.”

Kluzak said he did not think the Bruins could change Thomas, nor should they.

“Maybe one or two times, you might want to use your judgment and read the play and maybe not be that aggressive,” Kluzak said. “But generally I think Tim Thomas’ aggressive style is absolutely what suits him and what suits his team.”

Kluzak said the atmosphere at the TD Garden “could have a huge impact on this game,” especially if the Bruins come out strong and score early in the game.

“I think the first goal would really just … blow the roof right off the building,” Kluzak said.

As a general strategy for Game 3, Kluzak said the Bruins must play smarter defense and not give the puck away in their zone or the neutral zone. On the offensive end, they need to forecheck more effectively.

Kluzak also warned, “You just don’t get that many opportunities to be four wins away from the Stanley Cup and get your name on that.”

Added Kluzak, “Trust me, when you play it, and you don’t get your name on it, and every time you see it, you feel this giant void in this stomach, you don’t even want to think about it. So if you’re a young Bruin player, you want to take full advantage of this. This is a game that they can win.”


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[1] Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page: http://audio.weei.com/weei/dennis_and_callahan.htm?resultType=media&media=audio

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