|Zdeno Chara shakes off rust, gets ‘better and better’ in return to game action||12.12.14 at 12:05 am ET|
The first 30 minutes of Zdeno Chara‘s return could not have been much shakier. On his fourth shift Thursday night, Chara committed a bad turnover in his own end that led to a great chance for Marian Hossa. Thankfully for Chara, Tuukka Rask bailed him out with a great toe save.
A few minutes later, Chara tried to cover for Dougie Hamilton after Hamilton misplayed a puck in the Bruins zone, but Chara wasn’t able to get position on Brandon Saad and wound up taking a hooking penalty. Chara then took another penalty 8:50 into the second when he shot the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt, giving Chicago an extended 5-on-3.
It wasn’t the start Chara would have liked, but it shouldn’t have been surprising either. After all, this was Chara’s first game in nearly two months, and it came against arguably the best team in the NHL. A little rust while getting up to game speed should have been expected.
“It was exciting to be playing a game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “There’s no secret that I felt the absence of missing a good chunk of time. I’m not going to make excuses. Just you have those games that you have to break in.”
And rest assured, as the game went on Chara broke in. After that second penalty, he was a noticeably positive force for the Bruins. He was reading plays better and winning pucks, and he looked calmer with the puck on his stick. Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury||12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.
“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”
Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.
“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”
Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.
As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.
“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’s important to take care of ourselves.
“So, I view that five-on-three we’re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’ve got to be careful, but I’m sure he knew that he was coming.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|5 things we learned as Bruins get Zdeno Chara back, fall to Blackhawks||12.11.14 at 9:41 pm ET|
The Bruins got their captain back Thursday and, for a couple of periods, began to look like their old selves.
Sure, they lost to the Blackhawks (box), but their old selves used to do that, too. The B’s push in the second and third periods brought them back from a 3-0 hole. If there is to be a turnaround for the Bruins this season, Chris Kelly fighting Andrew Shaw after Torey Krug’s goal in the third period might be a moment looked back on down the road. Boston held Chicago to two shots on goal in the third period.
It wasn’t the prettiest night for Chara, who was playing in his first game since Oct. 28. It could have been uglier, as a defensive-zone giveaway to Marian Hossa in the first period was negated by a Tuukka Rask kick save.
Chara took a pair of penalties, first hooking Brandon Saad in the first period and then sending the puck over the glass in the defensive zone during a second period Blackhawks power play to give Chicago a five-on-three.
David Krejci did not play. He has been limited to just 11 games this season.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
B’S DEPTH NO MATCH FOR CHICAGO
Though Thursday marked the return of Boston’s best player, it was the bottom of the B’s roster that failed them in the first period.
Playing against Chicago’s fourth line, Boston’s bottom-six forwards and third defensive pairing allowed a pair of goals.
Boston College product Ben Smith turned in a monster of a play on the first goal in outbattling Gregory Campbell for a puck behind the net. Campbell knocked Smith down, but Smith got up with Campbell still in coverage, kicked the puck to himself and skated free before sending a shot to the top of the left circle that Klas Dahlbeck buried past Tuukka Rask.
On Chicago’s second goal, a Blackhawks pass from the corner went off Seth Griffith’s stick and on net, with Smith jumping on the rebound and scoring.
|Bruins should still make room for Joe Morrow||12.11.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
Joe Morrow should be playing in the NHL. He might even be a guy worth making room for if you’re the Bruins.
Yet with the B’s finally getting their biggest piece back on defense and that room not being made, this could be the beginning of a prolonged stay in the press box or even a return to Providence for the twice-traded-yet-somehow-not-neurotic blueliner.
Even before Zdeno Chara was ready to return, the Bruins began scratching Morrow last week when they, for whatever reason, sat him in the middle two games of their four-game West Coast trip. It doesn’t seem Morrow has done anything to get himself benched, however. Since being recalled in late October, the 22-year-old defenseman was everything but rocky, which was the biggest concern about him heading in given his offensive tendencies. Getting decent minutes (he averaged 16:41) against other teams’ bottom-sixers, Morrow provided stability that Matt Bartkowski couldn’t earlier in the season. His decision-making was sound and he didn’t have major issues in coverage.
Now, Morrow understands those minutes may be harder to come by.
“Every day, even up here there’s still healthy guys most of the time, so it was an ongoing process of possibly being in and out, so there’s really not much to it,” he said. “You’ve just got to go out and practice and see where you fit in and wait for another opportunity, whether it be here or whatever they decide to do. You never know.
“They keep you in the dark; they keep you out of everything and if you don’t let that get to you, you should be fine. Just stay positive and live every day.”
The level-headed Morrow is keeping surprisingly calm throughout the process. When the B’s took him out of the lineup, he didn’t become overly critical of himself or wondered what earned the benching, which is something young players experience frequently early in their careers.
“I guess at one point there’s a part where you’ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘Oh, well did I do something wrong or is it just kind of [they’ve] got to get some other guys in the lineup, switch things up a bit?'” Morrow said. “Personally, I didn’t take it to heart.”
The Bruins can still make room for Morrow. Zach Trotman remains in the lineup, with Claude Julien saying this week that he’s felt Trotman has been the team’s best defenseman on certain nights. He also likes that Trotman is a right shot, though the Bruins have lefties in Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug who can move over to allow another lefty, such as Morrow, to enter the lineup. The B’s also shouldn’t be above sitting Kevan Miller at points if need be.
“We’re going to have a healthier back end, which will allow us to out the best players in the lineup,” Julien said. “You hear us say it all the time – it’s almost a cliche now – but healthy competition, right? That’s what it ends up being.”
Though coaches feel he has been a better NHL player than an AHL player, the possibility exists that Morrow could eventually fall victim to the waiver process and be sent to Providence. The B’s can send guys like Morrow or Trotman up and down without exposing them to waivers, which is not the case for other defensemen such as Bartkowski. Morrow knows he could be sent back down, but he would be understanding of the numbers game if it happened.
“It’s in the back of your mind, you know it is [a possibility],” Morrow said. “It is a chess match. You know they’ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I’m a part of it and I’m here to help out, too, so if that’s the case that it does work out better that way, you can’t be mad or you can’t be disappointed about it. It’s just the way things are.”
|Zdeno Chara expected to return vs. Blackhawks, Bruins not counting on David Krejci||12.11.14 at 11:36 am ET|
Chara, who has not played since tearing his PCL on Oct. 23, left Thursday’s morning skate with the rest of the regulars, while Krejci stayed out extra with anticipated healthy scratches Joe Morrow and Matt Bartkowski.
Chara was taken off injured reserve Thursday, while Krejci remained on it as of early Thursday afternoon.
“Not officially, but I’m counting on [Chara],” Claude Julien said. “Krejci, nobody’s told me anything yet, so unless somebody tells me something after this morning skate, I’m not going to count on him. If they tell me he’s ready to go, then he’ll be in.”
Craig Cunningham was on the ice for Thursday’s skate after being recalled Wednesday. Assuming Krejci does not play, the Bruins will not have any extra forwards, meaning Cunningham would be in the lineup.
Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in morning skate, indicating he will start in goal against Chicago.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Cam Neely knows money will still be tight with salary cap increase||12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
When the Board of Governors projected a $73 million salary cap for next season, it looked to be good and bad news for the Bruins: good because it’s higher than the current $69 million mark and bad because it isn’t even higher.
Those seemed to be Cam Neely‘s thoughts Wednesday, as the Bruins president answered a question about the anticipated bump by smiling and quipping, “it’s better than 69 [million].”
The projected cap, which is contingent on the Canadian dollar staying the same, will make it easier for the Bruins to keep their team together, but not much. The idea of adding key players in free agency will be out of the question, but then again it generally has been for a few years now, with the exception of the incentive-laden deal given two summers ago to Jarome Iginla.
Not counting Marc Savard, the Bruins have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players for next season. Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg lead the list of players due for raises from their current cap hits, though Torey Krug and Reilly Smith can also expect pay bumps after playing this season for $1.4 million apiece.
“When you’re a team that spends up to the cap and you are spending to the cap and you are into LTI, there’s a lot of discussions and conversations and pencils and erasers that have to be in play,” Neely said. “Fortunately, Charlie and Mr. Jacobs give us the opportunity to spend to the cap. Until they say we’re not, we’re going to continue to try and put the best team on the ice. Having said that, it’s easy to spend money; you’ve just got to spend it properly.”
Agent J.P. Barry told WEEI.com last month he had yet to begin serious negations with the B’s regarding new deals for Hamilton and Soderberg, both of whom he represents. The holdup was due to the league not knowing where the cap would be next year, so perhaps the ball could get rolling soon with the clarity recently presented.
All that said, the $73 million figure is not set in stone.
“Based on what we’re hearing, it’s all based upon the Canadian dollar,” Neely said. “They have a pretty good idea of the revenues that are coming in. It’s just a matter of Canadian revenues and what happens with the Canadian dollar. It gives us a pretty good idea of where we’re going to end up, but if we’re going to err, we should err on the lower side.”
|Bruins break ground on Warrior Ice Arena as construction of practice facility begins||12.10.14 at 4:53 pm ET|
The Bruins broke ground on their new practice facility, which will be called Warrior Ice Arena, on Wednesday. Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli, Mayor Marty Walsh and New Balance chairman Jim Davis were among those on hand for the event.
Warrior Ice Arena, which will be located in Brighton as part of New Balance’s Boston Landing project, is expected to open in September of 2016. The Bruins will continue to practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington until then.
That’s great news for the Bruins, eventually. Though both Neely and Jacobs thanked Ristuccia at every opportunity Wednesday, Ristuccia is not an NHL-caliber practice facility. Furthermore, its location is inconvenient to Boston.
The Bruins don’t have many things on which they can’t sell players. They’re a winning organization, they have a good coach, they spend to the cap annually and they have people in the front office who players throughout the league respect. Their practice facility, on paper, is really their only clear shortcoming when it comes to places to play for prospective free agents.
“I really think it means a lot to players. It means a lot to the organization and to the players,” Jacobs said. “What I mean by the players is if I’m one of them — Big Zee, Looch or Seth Griffith or whoever it is – you’re doing that grind of back and forth to the rink. Likewise, on an off day when the Celtics may be playing or there’s an event in the building, you’re out here. It means a lot to have a shorter commute.
“It makes life a lot easier, as we probably all are aware, but then you think about courting potential free agents. To be able to take them to not only the Garden and show them the work we’ve done there, but say, ‘Hey, listen. Come check out our practice facility,’ that’s a big selling point for a lot of clubs. It should be one for Boston’s and it will be very soon.”
Both Neely and Jacobs said that the team’s priority was to build a new facility within Route 128, with Jacobs saying he was “over the moon” with how things fell together with New Balance. Jacobs added that he feels the Bruins will “set [an] industry standard in terms of amenities, technology and quality when it comes to this training facility.”
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