|Bruins-Maple Leafs Live Blog: Nathan Horton makes it 4-1||12.03.11 at 6:43 pm ET|
|Points ain’t nothing but a number for Zdeno Chara||12.03.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
Statistically speaking, Zdeno Chara is having the best season of his career. After not registering a point in the season’s first six games, the massive defenseman with the league’s hardest shot has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, with only Tyler Seguin registering more points for the B’s since Oct. 20.
That leaves Chara on pace for a career-high 64 points (his current career-best is 51, which he registered in 2007-08). Not all of Chara’s points have been blasts from the point, or even teammates burying rebounds of blasts from the point. Chara was in on the rush Wednesday when David Krejci fed him to set up a wrist shot from right before the hash mark for what became his fifth goal of the year.
It’s been a big year offensively for Chara, but he knows that a defenseman’s worth is not always measured by stats. Even so, the 6-foot-9 blueliner is happy to be producing at a pace he’s never seen before.
“My first priority is to play well defensively. My job is obviously to shut down top lines every game, so that’s the No. 1 job to me,” he said after Saturday’s morning skate. “Anything above that is a plus. Any time I can help the team offensively and contribute on the other side of the ice, it’s a big plus.”
Seven of Chara’s points (3 G, 4 A) have come on the power play, and he leads the team in points on the man advantage. With the power play performing better than it was down the stretch last year and Chara producing more, the B’s have been able to give penalty killers a much harder time than they were when they would go games at a time without scoring on the man advantage.
“I think it’s about doing everything,” Claude Julien said Saturday. “I mean, in order for [Chara] to get some shots you got to have some versatility on your power play and some of the opportunities have to come from different places. Tyler on the half wall has done a great job of course there, [Milan Lucic] in front of the net and other guys. Again, we’ve moved some guys around. [Patrice] Bergeron finds the right people to pass to, and with Zdeno where he is right now, it allows him to take a shot whenever he’s open and if they pay too much attention to him, then there’s something else open.”
Chara is currently a plus-15 as well, meaning that while he may get beaten occasionally (as he was when Phil Kessel flew by him in the neutral zone Wednesday to set up a 2-on-1 and a Toronto goal), he still does what he believes to be his No. 1 job: playing against top lines and seeing to it that no goals are scored unless they’re from the B’s. He’s on pace for a plus-53 rating, which would surpass last season’s career-best plus-33. Between the points and the strong rating (only Seguin and Chris Kelly have better ratings on the B’s at plus-19 and plus-16, respectively), there’s been very little not to like about the big man’s game this season.
“You also want to be an all-around defenseman,” Chara said of the offensive production being a part of his game. “That’s what it takes.”
|What Tuukka Rask and Kenan Thompson have in common||12.03.11 at 12:25 pm ET|
Remember that timeless scene in D2: The Mighty Ducks in which Russ Tyler (played by a young Kenan Thompson), dons the goalie pads so he can get a clear shot — his famous knuckle puck — off in the finals seconds of the Junior Goodwill Games championship to tie the game against Iceland?
Dumb question. Of course you do.
Well, something slightly similar but far less dramatic has been happening at the Bruins’ morning skates lately. For the last two morning skates at TD Garden, when the circle of players stretching (which ends the skate) breaks up, goaltender Tuukka Rask has flown out of the circle with a teammate’s stick and fired a slapshot into the empty net, with teammates cheering as they leave the ice.
Rask said after Saturday’s skate that there’s no significance to the act, but that he’ll continue to do it.
“I’m having fun,” he said. “[I’ve done it for] a couple of games, so I might as well keep it going, right?”
On Saturday, it took Rask two tries. Using Rich Peverley‘s stick (he used Shawn Thornton‘s last time; Tyler used Lester Averman’s), he missed the net and hung his head in disappointment before scoring on the second attempt. Needless to say, he hasn’t exactly been practicing.
“Not too much,” Rask said of how much time he’s put into perfecting his shot. “I missed the net today, so’¦”
He may be a far cry from Russ Tyler, but Rask has certainly made the final seconds of a game-day routine much more interesting.
|Morning skate notes: James Reimer starting for Leafs||12.03.11 at 11:42 am ET|
The Bruins got back on the ice Saturday morning in anticipation for the second game of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs. Boston currently leads Toronto by one point in the Northeast division after Wednesday’s 6-3 victory at Air Canada Centre.
All of the regulars were on the ice for the Bruins Saturday morning, with the exception of defenseman Steven Kampfer and forward Jordan Caron. Both players were sent to Providence Wednesday so they could get some game action, and both players played in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Connecticut Whale. Caron had an assist, while Kampfer went without a point and had an even rating.
One are that remains a bit of a question mark for Saturday is the Leafs’ goaltending situation. Jonas Gustavsson is slated to be the starter, but No. 1 netminder James Reimer has been cleared to play.
[UPDATE: 12:32 pm] Both Reimer and coach Ron Wilson told reporters that it will indeed be Reimer in net. The Leafs have not lost a game in regulation this season with Reimer in net (4-0-1).
|Jordan Caron, Steven Kampfer to get game action in Providence||12.01.11 at 2:07 pm ET|
In an effort to get their healthy scratches some game action, the Bruins assigned forward Jordan Caron and defenseman Steven Kampfer to Providence on Thursday. The two are expected to play Friday night against the Connecticut Whale, as the Bruins next play on Saturday.
In 11 NHL games this season, Caron has one goal and two assists. Benoit Pouliot has found a home on the Bruins’ third line, making Caron a healthy scratch the last seven games.
Kampfer, who missed the first six games of the season with a knee injury, has played five games for the Bruins this season. He has one assist and a plus-4 rating.
|Quick notes from the David Krejci press conference||12.01.11 at 1:42 pm ET|
Newly extended Bruins center David Krejci‘s press conference just wrapped up at TD Garden. Here are a few quick notes, with more to come.
– Krejci’s deal, a three-year $15.75 million deal with a limited no-trade clause in the final two years, was actually signed prior to Wednesday’s game against the Maple Leafs. Peter Chiarelli joked that he likes to think it put Krejci in the right frame of mind to go out and rack up three points in the win over Toronto.
– Krejci said that he isn’t going to worry about whether he is judged by his contract. Considering he’s being paid like a first-line center, it seems that judgement will be pretty common over the length of the deal.
– Chiarelli spoke glowingly of Krejci as a two-way player.
“David’s biggest asset is his head,” Chiarelli said. “He sees the ice so well. He makes plays, he uses the players around him. He’s very competitive. He’s got a very well-rounded game.
“I think his game is underrated by its two-way component. He’s got a lot of really good offensive skills and instincts, but I think the two-way component of the game — I don’t want to harp on that — but it’s important if you want to win championships.”
“Logjam is probably not the proper word,” Chiarelli said. “I think it’s an excessive supply that I’m happy to have.”
– Chiarelli also scoffed at the notion that committing this money to Krejci might make it tougher to re-sign upcoming RFA’s Tuukka Rask (at the end of this season) and Tyler Seguin (at the end of next season).
– The GM said that these negotiations weren’t based on this season too much, as they had begun over the summer. He did note, however, that he didn’t consider the first month of the season in his long-term assessment of Krejci, saying that such thinking would be “shortsighted.”
|Bruins give David Krejci three-year extension||12.01.11 at 10:01 am ET|
The Bruins announced Thursday morning that they have signed center David Krejci to a three-year extension. According to TSN, Krejci, who would have been a restricted free agent at season’s end, will get $5.25 million a year with his new deal. The 25-year-old is in the final year of a deal that pays him $3.75 million a year.
The new deal also includes a limited no-trade clause, according to TSN. Krejci could block a trade to six teams.
Krejci’s signing takes care of what would have been the team’s biggest financial question mark at season’s end. The B’s also re-signed Rich Peverley in October to prevent him from reaching free agency, and with Krejci now signed, Tuukka Rask (restricted) and Chris Kelly (unrestricted) may be bumped up to the top of general manager Peter Chiarelli‘s to-do list. Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, Joe Corvo and Johnny Boychuk are also set to become unrestricted free agents.
The new contract will also make Krejci the highest-paid forward on the Bruins, and the second-highest paid Bruin. Captain Zdeno Chara‘s deal has an annual cap hit of $6.916 cap hit.
The signing comes the morning after Krejci led the way in Boston’s 6-3 win over Toronto Wednesday. The first-line center had three points (1 G, 2 A) in the victory. The Bruins drafted Krejci in the second round of the 2004 draft. In his NHL career, he has 62 goals and 165 assists for 227 points. He led the postseason in scoring during last spring’s Stanley Cup run.