|Zdeno Chara proved he can still focus better than anyone||03.25.11 at 8:35 am ET|
It would’ve been completely understandable if Zdeno Chara didn’t look himself Thursday night.
There had been so much said and written about his hit on Max Pacioretty on March 8. There were so many league eyes on the rematch between the two rivals. And the Canadiens had every reason to come out and hit Chara and the Bruins hard.
The Bruins, however, weren’t biting and neither was Chara. And the result was a clinic on how to dismantle your opponent.
“We wanted to have a good, strong performance,” Chara said of the battle against the Canadiens, who came in just three points behind the B’s in the Northeast Division. “Montreal is playing well and obviously they’re a good team. But our focus was obviously on our game.
“We tried to obviously play our game and stay focused in our game plan. And every time you get away from that against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay. So like I said, we really tried to stay focused and tried to establish our game plan and play strong. And obviously we got ahead in the first twenty and from that point I thought we handled and controlled the game pretty well.”
Scoring in the first 61 seconds also did a great deal to take the edge off. So did leading 3-0 after 20 minutes. The Bruins systematically took apart the Canadiens on this night in a 7-0 rout.
“I think that just happens when you score obviously early goals,” Chara said of Johnny Boychuk‘s goal at 1:01, the first of three Chara would assist on during the blowout. “In the first 20 [minutes], we got a good lead but we never sat on it. We never tried to just protect the lead. We were obviously going after it and tried to score more goals and continue to play the game we were playing in the first 20 and second 20 and then, the third 20.
As for being tested mentally, Chara knew the Canadiens would hit him. And they did when Mathieu Darche belted Chara in the first period. But Chara took his time and only hit when it was appropriate. And when he did, it was devastatingly effective. Moments after the Darche hit, Chara dumped Travis Moen on the ice with a solid back check that sent the Bruins on a rush the other way.
“I don’t exactly remember the play, but like I said I’m not going to change,” Chara said. “I’m going to still play a physical game. That’s my game. And it’s part of the game to be hitting each other.”
Now, for the time being, Chara and the Bruins can move past the Canadiens and focus on a key stretch of three games coming up – Saturday against the Rangers, Sunday on the road against the Flyers and Tuesday back home against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
“That was the first step forward from the previous games,” Chara said. “And obviously now we have two games with a good solid effort. And obviously we know that next opponents we have, Rangers, Flyers, Chicago, is going to be a good challenge for us. So we just got to stay focused and not get too high or too low. We just got to stay nice and humble and get ready for next games.”
|Turns out Claude Julien knew ‘exactly’ what Mark Recchi was doing … and saying||03.24.11 at 11:09 pm ET|
You can count on one hand the number of times in his career Zdeno Chara has needed someone to stand up for him against the opposition.
But a 43-year-old winger who runs about foot shorter than the Bruins 6-foot-9 captain did just that this week and it paid huge dividends in a 7-0 Bruins rout of the Canadiens on Thursday at TD Garden. And he didn’t need to throw a punch, finish a check or swing a stick. Just open his mouth.
Mark Recchi acknowleged he made comments this week critical of Canandiens management and their medical staff to take pressure off Chara. Recchi told a Boston radio station Wednesday that the Canadiens “embellished a little bit” the hit on Max Pacioretty on Mar. 8 that resulted in a concussion for Pacioretty but no suspension for Chara.
“I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day and I’m a big boy,” Recchi said after the game. “I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there. … In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that.
“I have nothing but great things to say about the Montreal organization, I had five great years there. And it’s still an unfortunate situation it all happened. We all hope Max [Pacioretty] gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. And like I said, this is something that I believe in twenty-two years I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really.”
Maybe in Boston but not Montreal, where the questions from the media kept coming.
“I’m a big boy and like I said, I’m sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for 22 years,” Recchi repeated. “I’m very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and it’s important. That will be the end of it and you won’t hear anything said by me anymore.
“I took pressure off my captain for one day,” Recchi added. “He deserved it. He earned it.”
Chara certainly appreciated the gesture.
“I obviously don’t know exactly all the comments,” Chara said of Recchi’s radio comments. “But he’s such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It’s a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He’s obviously the next hall-of-famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can’t thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.”
Recchi’s teammates all knew how important Thursday was to Chara.
“It’s been hard for us to sit here and see Zee,” said Gregory Campbell, who got into the only scrape of the night with Paul Mara. “Zee takes things personally, and he’s a good person. He doesn’t like to see anybody get injured. Behind the scenes, it’s a hard thing to handle, and he’s handled it extremely well.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wasn’t surprised since he knows Recchi is a veteran and knows exactly what he’s doing.
“It says a lot because I know what kind of player he is,” Julien said. “I knew exactly what he was doing. You don’t have to speak. He’s 43 years old, he’s a big boy. He can answer for himself. I don’t think I need to coach him on any of that stuff.
“When you see a guy with that kind of experience say something like that, you know what he’s doing. So, there was nothing to be said. Their focus was on the game. He had to say what he had to say for whatever reason. That was something where I didn’t need to ask him that question because I knew exactly what he was doing.”
|Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish||03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET|
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|Zdeno Chara appreciates the ‘nice gesture’ of Max Pacioretty||03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|What Zdeno Chara and the Bruins learned Saturday night||03.07.11 at 10:11 am ET|
One loss following a very impressive seven-game winning streak is hardly cause for alarm. And that’s especially true since the Bruins managed a point Saturday night when they didn’t play their best game and found a way to tie it with 32.5 seconds left in regulation.
But there was a lesson to be learned. Just asked Zdeno Chara. If you don’t skate hard against a hungry team, you’ll likely wind up on the losing end.
The captain gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, just under eight minutes into the second period. But from then on, the B’s seem to take a collective breath and relax as the Pens picked up their intensity and took it to them in every way.
They took more shots, delivered more hits and until the final 33 seconds, scored more goals.
“We didn’t have our best game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We were just, we had heavy legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move the puck well. On the other side Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn’t create much.”
All of this from a Penguins team that came in losing 6-of-7 and had lost in overtime 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.
“I think it was mostly us, we weren’t moving our feet at all,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were second to the puck. At the same time, you couldn’t establish a physical game because you never got there on time. So they were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching, I thought in the second period and they just took the game away from us at that point.”
“They even they had back to back games,” Chara added. “They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night. But it’s going to happen. You’re going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That’s the positive. Obviously we’d like to get two but it happens.”
But now, following the end of the winning streak, the Bruins know they have to pick it back up with a big division game Tuesday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have won four straight and 5-of-6. They trail the Bruins by just five points in the Northeast.
No reason for the Bruins not to have their legs under them for this one.
|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Claude Julien: We still need Tuukka Rask||02.11.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
But to be honest, he didn’t exactly need to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure out what the Bruins coach was thinking when he yanked Rask after the second period of Friday’s 6-1 dud against the Red Wings before a displeased Garden crowd.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that,” Rask said. “I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today.”
That’s one way of putting it.
Rask admitted he did not have one of his finer performances of the year and that he deserved to get pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in two periods. Rask, who fell to 5-11-1, said he had no criticism of coach Julien, who started Tim Thomas in goal to start the third.
Julien said he has not lost confidence in Rask, who allowed goals on the first two shots he faced as the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes and never recovered. The last time Rask was pulled was on New Year’s Day in Buffalo when Rask allowed three in the first, despite the Bruins leading, 4-3.
Julien started him in the next game and Rask was very good in a 2-1 at Toronto.
“We didn’t feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one,” Julien said of Rask. “He still made some good saves. I don’t think we didn’t recognize that as well, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight and after discussing the situation, we just felt that the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period.” Read the rest of this entry »
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