|Zdeno Chara proves why he’s the ‘toughest guy in the [NHL], bar none’||03.28.12 at 9:55 am ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is notoriously humble and soft spoken about his own accomplishments.
That’s why it’s often a good idea to listen to his teammates and coach when trying to gauge what impact he’s had on the Bruins, even a teammate like Brian Rolston who hasn’t shared a dressing room with him for that long.
Asked what he’s learned about Chara since coming back to Boston in a deadline trade with the Islanders, Rolston was honest enough.
“Probably nothing,” Rolston said. “He’s so hard to play against; he’s a tremendous leader. Obviously he does that by example, but he’s the toughest guy to play against in the league – bar none. If you were to pull the forwards on every team they would say the same thing and coming in on a nightly basis knowing that you have to face him – it’s a tough task.”
Rolston set up the game-winner of Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay when he tried a wraparound midway through the third, only to have the puck flutter its way out to a wide open Benoit Pouliot. But the heroics of Rolston and Pouliot don’t happen without Chara, who has he did all night, brought the puck in deep into the offensive zone to apply more pressure on a team known for its stingy defense.
The secondary assist was Chara’s third of the night, a night on which Chara matched a career-high with three helpers and was honored before the game for becoming the latest and greatest member of the NHL’s 1000-game club.
“Yeah, those were big,” Rolston added. “Z had a great game, another great game for us. It’s huge, it’s huge – if you can get the defensemen helping out, and especially against on team like that that collapses down all the time. It’s difficult to get anything going down low so it’s great to have defensemen contributing offensively.”
That’s exactly what Chara did when he took the puck midway through the first at the Tampa Bay blue line and charged around the zone like Wayne Gretzky, eventually running at the net, creating a scoring chance for Shawn Thornton when Dwayne Roloson left a juicy rebound.
“Basically, I get a puck on the blueline, I was trying to ride the blueline and then just kind of opened up and I really decided to challenge that seam and once I got a little bit more room, I was kind of deciding between a shot and pass,” Chara explained. “But again, everything was happened and I decided to take it to the net and we’ve always been taught when you do those things, good things happen and they did. We scored on the rebound, and it ended up being a good play.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins lose fourth straight, fall to Panthers||03.15.12 at 10:10 pm ET|
The Bruins set the table for the Senators to knock them into seventh place, falling to the Panthers, 6-2, Thursday in Sunrise, Fla.
The B’s have lost four straight games, which makes for their longest losing streak of the season. Their lead in the Northeast Division is down to one point, and the Senators will have a chance to leapfrog the Bruins when they host the last-place Canadiens Friday.
The Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mickael Samuelsson and Marcel Goc in the first two periods. Joe Corvo brought the B’s within one with his fourth goal of the year, but second-period tallies from Stephen Weiss and John Madden gave the Panthers a three-goal lead entering the third period. Brian Rolston scored his first goal since coming back to the Bruins when he beat Jose Theodore at 1:44 of the third period with a power-play goal. Later in the period, a Chris Kelly pass that went off Zdeno Chara‘s foot bounced right onto the stick of Tomas Kopecky, with the Panthers forward slamming it home to make it a 5-2 game. Wojtek Wolski made it a half-dozen for Florida.
Tim Thomas played in his 11th straight game, allowing all six Panthers goals and taking the loss. He has allowed at least three goals in five of his last six starts.
The B’s return to action Saturday at TD Garden, hosting the Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Brad Marchand has remained whisper quiet for the B’s, as the second-line winger has just a goal and an assist over his last 10 games. The Bruins need to get a lot of their guys going, and Marchand’s right at the top of that list. Between the injuries and the fact that the B’s are in a race for the division, now isn’t the time for Marchand to cool off.
– Thursday marked the seventh consecutive game in which the Bruins allowed the first goal, and 10th time in their last 12 games. They have also allowed the first two goals in four straight games. If the Bruins want to start winning games, playing from behind isn’t exactly the key.
– Along those same lines, the first period has been rough for the Bruins of late. The second period seemed to be the team’s Achilles’ heel for a stretch, but the B’s have been outscored 14-3 in the first period over their last seven games.
– While Jordan Caron played well skating on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, the other two did not. Krejci and Lucic failed to register a shot on goal on the night, while Caron put two pucks on net and saw his hard work along the boards result in Rolston’s goal. Caron certainly has been strong for the Bruins of late, but the problem is that few have joined him.
– This losing streak has been bad enough for the B’s, but you’d have to go back over two years to January of 2010 to find the last time the Bruins went four straight games without a single point.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The months of November and December.
|Brendan Shanahan on D&C: Brad Marchand ‘didn’t get it’ after five-game suspension||03.13.12 at 11:37 am ET|
NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan joined Dennis and Callahan Tuesday morning, discussing all things NHL and the job he has done in his first season on the job. Shanahan took over for Colin Campbell (father of Bruins forward Gregory Campbell) on June 1.
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was not suspended or fined for his hit from behind on Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk Sunday. Shanahan explained the ruling on the hit, which was called boarding on ice.
“Boychuk’s shoulder is exposed, so it’s a green light, good time to hit, and just as the contact is about to be made Boychuk reverses the puck and turns his back,” he said. “It’s the same with [David] Krejci and Mark Stuart back in December. It was the same a while back when Zach Bogasian of Winnipeg hit Pierre Marc Bouchard of Minnesota, broke his nose and unfortunately there was a concussion, but we felt this was something we have to be consistent on.”
Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been punished multiple times by Shanahan this season, as he was fined $2,500 for his Dec. 5 slew foot on Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen and suspended five-games for his low bridge hit on Canucks blueliner Sami Salo on Jan. 5. Shanahan, who had talked to Marchand over the offseason at Marchand’s request over what he could and couldn’t do, said he had a “forceful” talk with him following his clip on Habs defenseman Alexei Emelin on Feb. 15.
“We had a conversation with Peter Chiarelli on the phone after the low hit on Emelin, which I didn’t think was as low as Salo. I didn’t think deserved a suspension,” he said. “There was just stuff about that hit that just sort of stunk. It wasn’t smart to be tempting fate almost as low. There was 1.6 seconds left in the period, it was in the offensive zone.
“It’s not illegal to hit a guy with 1.6 seconds left. It’s not. You can hit a guy whenever you want. But there were things about that hit … it was low again. It seemed from his remarks after the first suspension that he sort of didn’t get it. So we had a really good forceful conversation that didn’t result in a fine or a suspension, but I hope we got to him.”
As for the Bruins in general, Shanahan responded to the idea that he has a bias against the B’s when it comes to suspensions. Marchand, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference have all been suspended this season for various infractions.
“It’s funny, people in Boston might think I have something against the Bruins, which is so absurd and crazy,” he said. “It makes you feel any better I can promise you all I have to do is flip on my Twitter page, or if I ever wanted to venture onto the internet, almost every team in the league thinks there a specific reason I hate their market and hate their city as well.
“I have to defend why I don’t hate Pittsburgh, or why I don’t hate Montreal, or why I don’t hate Buffalo, or why I don’t hate Minnesota. For Boston, it’s even more absurd, quite honestly. Talk about a team I grew up admiring. Cam Neely is probably the one player I tried to model my game after more than anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team you grew up admiring, or a team you played for, there’s so much scrutiny in this job, you can do this job and you can’t sleep at night, if you don’t do it with as much integrity as possible. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect. You would love to have a perfect season in sports. You can objectively look at this hit and disagree with the assessment, and that’s fair. That’s always going to be fair. But it’s absurd to suggest in any market that we have a grudge or have it in against anybody.”
|Brad Marchand on M&M: Actions of Canadians fans ‘just embarrassing’||02.17.12 at 2:56 pm ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday afternoon to discuss his criticism of Canadians fans and his father’s role in keeping him stable after the Stanley Cup last summer, among other things.
After Canadiens fans cheered Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara getting hit in the face with a puck in the Bruins’ 4-3 win Wednesday, Marchand was publicly outspoken about the fans’ reaction. To him, it was a disrespectful move that is never justified in sports, no matter what teams are playing.
“Anytime a guy gets hurt, you have to respect the fact that he’s out there doing his job, trying to make a living,” Marchand said. “It’s a dangerous sport, it’s a dangerous game and when people are cheering…if he takes a puck in the throat, it could have been a really bad situation. The fact that they were cheering when he got hurt, it’s just embarrassing.”
Marchand has found himself in the news recently for his off-the-ice actions, as he revealed in a recent Sports Illustrated interview that he was too drunk to appear in the Bruins’ commemorative championship DVD. He admitted that he had too much fun in the aftermath of winning the Stanley Cup, but that his father was a crucial figure in helping him stay in line.
“He sat me down after a while and was actually really upset with me, just like, ‘You’re taking it too far, you’ve only won it one time. I don’t want you to win it once, I want you to win it three or four [times],’” Marchand said. “So he said, ‘If you win two Cups in the next three years, I’ll leave you alone and let you celebrate and party the way you want to. He said, ‘Until then, I’m going to be all over you until you do it again.’ I like the challenge.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Shawn Thornton: Senators ‘not sneaking up on anyone anymore’||01.31.12 at 12:38 pm ET|
The standings are deceiving. The Bruins are running away with the Northeast division.
While the Senators (27-19-6, 60 points) currently sit just four points behind the B’s (31-14-2, 65 points), Ottawa has played 52 games this season to Boston’s 47. That means the time to worry about losing the division won’t be coming soon, but it doesn’t mean the Bruins shouldn’t be mindful of the only other team in their division that’s currently in line for a playoff spot.
The Senators should enter Tuesday night’s game with a full head of steam. No, they haven’t played well of late (see below), but they should be on a hockey high after hosting the All-Star game this weekend. They weren’t expected to compete as well as they have this season, but they’ve certainly gotten the Bruins’ attention.
“[They're] a hard-working team that’s pretty well coached with a goalie that’s fairly hot this year,” Shawn Thornton said following the Bruins’ morning skate. “I played with him in the minors, and when he’s on, he’s on. They’re definitely not sneaking up on anybody anymore. … It will be a good game for us coming out of the break.”
While Thornton is right in saying the Senators have registered on Boston’s radar, he may have been a little generous with his praise of goaltender Craig Anderson. One thing that has remained constant this season has been the Senators’ porous work in their own end. Ottawa is 27th in goals against with an average of three goals allowed per game, and though Anderson has been a workhorse for them (he has started 19 consecutive games and will be between the pipes for his 20th straight on Tuesday), he is currently rocking a 2.90 goals-against average, which is 37th in the league.
Though the Senators might be coming into Boston on a high following the weekend’s festivities, they, like the Bruins, are looking to make up for a rough stretch prior to the break. While the Bruins went 3-3-1 over their last seven games, the Senators went 3-4-0, including dropping three straight games on the west coast going into the break.
Still, if the Bruins don’t wake up from their pre-break slumber, they’ll have trouble on their hands Tuesday night. Jason Spezza has 50 points on the season (20 goals, 30 assists), while 21-year-old defenseman Erik Karlsson has 47 points (tops among NHL blueliners). The Senators average 2.9 goals per game, which is eighth in the league.
“They’re a really good team,” Brad Marchand said of Ottawa. “They have a lot of skill over there, and a lot of young guys who are working really hard. Those are always tough teams to play against, and they’re playing really good hockey right now.”
|Bruins hope to shake sloppy play as they return from All-Star break||01.30.12 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins are ready to jump back into their busy schedule, and they’re hoping that they’ll look more ready for their games than they did prior to the break.
The B’s were red-hot in November and December, but they limped into the All-Star break with uncharacteristically sloppy games, and a seven game stretch that saw them go 3-3-1. in their last three games prior to the break, the Bruins allowed three or more goals in three straight contests for the first time this season.
Now that the break is over, the Bruins are embracing the fresh start that comes with diving back into game action, and they’re hoping that whatever was plaguing them in past weeks is gone.
“It’s almost a blessing in disguise that we got to shut it off and reload and refocus after a couple crazy games and uncharacteristic games,” Milan Lucic said Monday. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. We’re aware of what we need to get back to doing well.
“The feeling for me coming off this break is that I wanted to get back and be around the boys and start playing again. Hopefully everyone else has got that same feeling, and that’s what’s going to help us be at our best.”
The B’s will be without both Andrew Ference (serving the last game of his three-game suspension) and Nathan Horton (concussion) Tuesday against the Senators, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come out with a better effort Tuesday. The B’s may have peaked in November, but that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of returning to the level of play that saw them go on a 21-2-1 earlier in the season.
“We enjoy winning, and we enjoy playing the way we were in November and the early part of December,” Brad Marchand said. “It’s a little frustrating when you’re not playing your best, and you know you can be better, but that’s how hockey goes. You’re not going to be your best every night. We know that.
“There’s always ups and downs during the season. The thing that you have to be bale to do is make sure you don’t get too high and don’t get too low, and hopefully we’ll be able to bounce back here.”
|Brad Marchand on M&M: Tim Thomas ‘made his decision and that’s that’||01.25.12 at 2:30 pm ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Wednesday afternoon and talked at length about the Bruins’ visit to the White House, time off from hockey during the All-Star break and the team’s prospects for the second half of the season.
On Monday, the Bruins visited the White House and President Barack Obama to celebrate their 2011 Stanley Cup title. For Marchand, it was an incredible opportunity that he and the team cherished.
“That was pretty cool, it was almost surreal,” Marchand said of being on stage with the president. “You see him on TV and obviously he’s such an iconic figure and it’s a room filled with cameras and everything. It was a good time.”
The visit, however, did not come without some controversy, as goaltender Tim Thomas, the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy recipient, did not attend the ceremony. In a Facebook post, Thomas noted that he believes “the Federal government has grown out of control,” but stressed that his decision was “not about politics or party.”
Marchand said that Thomas’ absence did not take away from the Bruins’ day in Washington.
“I had fun,” Marchand said. “Timmy made his decision and that’s that.”
With the Bruins sitting at 31-14 and in first place in the Northeast Division, Marchand also stated that he feels good about the direction of the team heading into the season’s second half.
“Definitely,” he said. “We’re sitting in a very good position right now. We haven’t been as hot of late, but with a little bit of a break right now and we get back into things, hopefully we get back to the way we were playing before. We’re in a great position, especially after how we started.”
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