|Steve Montador: ‘I think Zee knew what he was doing’||03.09.11 at 7:00 pm ET|
Everybody has an opinion on Zdeno Chara after his hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty Tuesday, and a former teammate weighed in the big blueliner Wednesday.
Steve Montador, who played 13 games for the Bruins in the 2008-09 season after being acquired at the trade deadline, appeared on WGR 550 Sports Radio in Buffalo Wednesday (audio), opening his appearance with fascinating talk about the B’s captain.
Montador, who said he was “pretty scared and pretty shocked” when he saw the hit, went into detail in describing Chara’s character and what he thinks of himself.
“He has this — and I say this in a good way — a complex that he’s the biggest, strongest guy in the league, and for the most part he probably is,” Montador said. “I think that he uses that just because he feels that mentality.
“One thing about Zee that I recall when he and I and Mark Recchi were talking was that he had a lot of respect for Mark. When [Recchi] got traded there, [Chara] was talking to him saying, ‘I remember one game when you came after me and kept hitting me,’ and here’s [Recchi], who at the time would have been 40 years old, and he’s going after Zdeno Chara and kept going and kept going.
“He had a lot of respect for that, because I think he thought, ‘Hey, I’m Zdeno Chara. I’m the biggest guy in the league,’ and Mark Recchi, although he’s a really thick and strong guy — he’s not the tallest guy — here is coming after him, and [Chara] was kind of wondering, ‘What’s this guy, is he on something or whatever? He keeps coming after me.’ The only reason I tell that story is to just give a sense of how he thinks about himself.”
Montador said that he has never found Chara to be “overly dirty,” but said that “he’s certainly somebody that in some instance you don’t want to be going into the corner with.”
He added that he thought Chara would be suspended for one or two games, and was slightly surprised by the league’s ruling to not suspend the 6-foot-9 defenseman. He also noted that he doesn’t completely buy the idea that Chara didn’t know that Pacioretty’s head could have hit the partition on the play.
“It’s easy for me from this side to speculate, but that part of the rink in Montreal, where the benches are, I’d like to think that everybody, unless it’s their first game there on the first shift — they might not be 100 percent aware of it — but having played against Montreal a bunch with Boston and with Buffalo … you’re pretty familiar with the ice,” he said.
“I got a sense that Zee meant to hit him in the way that he did, but I don’t think in any way that he wanted the outcome to be the way that it did. The puck had already been chipped past Zee. Maybe just the emotion of that game and from games previous [led to it].
“I think Zee knew what he was doing there, but like I said, in no way would I think that he’d want to hurt him like that.”
|Boston storms back to take Game 4 in double overtime||04.21.10 at 10:46 pm ET|
Summary – The Bruins took a dominating lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series against the Sabres with a 3-2 win at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Miroslav Satan scored the game winner for Boston in double overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win for Boston while Ryan Miller got the loss after giving away a 2-0 lead in the third period. The Bruins now lead the series 3-1 heading into Game 5 in Buffalo on Friday.
Boston entered the third period trailing by two goals but fought back in the first six minutes of the period to tie it. David Krejci got the first for Boston eights second into what was its fourth power play attempt of the night when he put a rebound off a Matt Hunwick shot from the high slot passed Miller at 2:07. Patrice Bergeron would then tie it when he got a bouncing puck coming off Daniel Paille’s stick from behind the net for the one-timer on the circle that Miller could not corral at 6:40.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Sabres got on the board first with a strike within the first 10 minutes of the first period. This time, the goal came at a relatively early 2:12 off the stick of Tim Kennedy when he found a bouncing puck loose in the slot in front of Rask and rushed for the slap shot that the net-minder had no chance at to make it 1-0.
Buffalo took a 2-0 lead at 6:59 in the second when former Bruins Steve Montador lined up a slap shot on the right point in such a precise manner that it would have to travel through a series of players in front of Miller to find the net. The puck had eyes — it deflected off a Boston defenseman and went through the skates of Paul Gaustad camped out in front of Rask. It was Montador’s first goal of the playoffs.
Miroslav Satan — The Bruins forward got the game-winner in double overtime.
Patrice Bergeron — Scored the game-tying goal in the third period off a shot similar to his Game 3 winner except from the other side.
David Krejci — Got the Bruins on the board when his astute play in front of the net on the power play resulted in a rebound strike to beat Miller.
Turning Point – Boston got broke the power play seal after three misfires to cut the Sabres lead in half in the third period. Mark Recchi pushed the puck from the right slot to Hunwick who waited for two stick-handles before sending the puck on net, getting tangled near the skates of Bergeron before bouncing out to Krejci who side stepped and put it in an open net to make it 2-1.
Key Play – Tuukka Rask had a flying leap on a Michael Grier shot a little more than halfway through the third period on a play where he was way out of position on the other side of the crease.
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 4||at 8:42 pm ET|
With all the face washing that Milan Lucic has been doling out this series, it was about time that one of the Sabres officially dropped the gloves for a traditional hockey fight against the hulking young forward.
It was captain Craig Rivet that did it for the Sabres, getting tangled with Lucic on top of the right circle in Buffalo’s defensive zone. It was not one of the fights that either will write home about but a couple good punches were thrown and sweaters were clutched but no take down was registered as the officials broke it up after the pair had floated the the far side of the zone.
Just like in Game 2, the Sabres would take a 2-0 lead though this time around the second goal game in the second period. Former Bruin Steve Montador lined up a shot from the right point that had eyes through to the net that was helped along by an especially good screen by Paul Gaustad and a deflection off a Bruin defenseman at 6:59.
Boston’s best chance to cut into the lead came when Mark Recchi and Lucic found themselves on a breakaway with only defenseman Toni Lydman in near of them in before Ryan Miller. Recchi skated down the slot and was tripped by Lydman but was still able to get the puck on net while sliding down the ice, giving Lucic a chance for the rebound. Miller stood like a brick wall and stopped it all and Lydman was sent to the box.
Boston could not convert anything on the man-advantage and are 0 for 3 on the game on the power play.
After initially outshooting Boston seven to three after 10 minutes in the period, Boston came back to tie the game again at 16 shots apiece heading into the third.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 1||04.15.10 at 7:55 pm ET|
Thomas Vanek taught us the first lesson in the first period of the first game in the quarterfinal playoffs series between the Bruins and Sabres — capitalize on all opportunities.
The story lines in this series are inevitably going to be about tip-ins and deflections and superb goaltending between Ryan Miller and Tuukka Rask. But Vanek, the best pure goal-scorer in the series, showed that the Sabres will not always have to rely on the dirty goals to put points on the board.
Sabres’ center and leading point scorer Derek Roy won the puck coming out of Buffalo’s defensive zone and started a break down the right wing. Once he made the entry he laid the puck up for Vanek in the high slot. The sniper picked his spot, far side and up on Rask, and let it go and the Sabres had the early lead in the game at 4:52.
Tempers flared later in the first period after a series of shots and blocks in front of the Bruins net by Tuukka Rask and defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Bruin captain Zdeno Chara got rough with former Bruin Steve Montador and forward Raffi Torres came in give Chara the what for. Away from that scrum Milan Lucic and Toni Lydman got into fisticuffs, with Lucic taking a wild swing (and missing) before Montador joined that scrum and all three went to a heap on the ice.
Sorting out the penalties.
Bruins: Chara – cross-checking, roughing, Lucic – double roughing minor.
Sabres: Lydman, Montador, Torres — all two-minute roughing. Patrick Kaletta — 10-minute misconduct.
When it was all said and done, the Sabres had a two-minute power play that the Bruins killed off. Buffalo shortly went on another power play when Adam McQuaid went for hooking at 18:56 which brought play to the end or the period. The Sabres will start the second with a four-second man-advantage.
Buffalo leads the battle in shots thus far, 12 to 9.
|Bruins’ trade deadline choice partly to blame for playoff demise||05.17.09 at 12:51 pm ET|
The Bruins season is kaput after a seven-game struggle against the Carolina Hurricanes that revealed a serious flaw or two on a Black and Gold team that cruised through the 82-game campaign.
The Big Bad B’s were the best team in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, and pumped up expectations ever so higher when they dispatched the hated Montreal Canadiens with four quick, short and sweet strokes of their collective hockey sticks.
It was a magical hockey ride that spiked fan expectations and had many firmly bracing for a full Stanley Cup run in Boston’s first year back on the hockey map. But the series against the Hurricanes revealed weaknesses on the B’s roster that must be addressed going forward in the brave new world of a potentially shrinking salary cap.
This isn’t just solely about player mistakes or flaws on the ice, however.
There were also miscues made by the front office during the season that affected Boston’s playoff run, and none was bigger than Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli’s mis-step at the NHL trade deadline.
|Injuries to the blueline caught up with Bruins in the end||05.15.09 at 7:57 am ET|
There will be countless items that can be looked at and harped on when attempting to decipher exactly what went wrong for the Bruins during their 11-game playoff run.
The power play took a permanent vacation after Game 2 of the first round against the Montreal Canadiens, and special teams are key when it comes to Stanley Cup playoff time.
So there’s that.
Blake Wheeler was a consistent performer during his rookie season and finished the regular season as a 20-goal scorer, but he was held scoreless and outplayed — and subsequently replaced in the lineup — by Byron Bitz during the playoffs.
The possibility that the Bruins underestimated their Carolina opponent is also a distinct reality.
But the real nuts and bolts reason for the demise of Boston’s season is pretty simple. The B’s couldn’t find a way to consistently, cleanly solve the Hurricanes forecheck for long stretches of their playoff series, and thus couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone and get their offense going. That problem lies squarely with the Bruins defenseman corps once you get past the top three of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman and Aaron Ward.
“I think it took awhile to get going for sure. We can’t when we’ve got pressure…we’re throwing the puck through a lot of times,” said Marc Savard. “I don’t know if we ever really got that comfortable out there as a whole team. I mean it’s upsetting now. You know, we stuck together through thick and thin. But, like I said, for it to end like this, it’s tough.”
Steve Montador is an excellent person and a big supporter of Right To Play, but the well-traveled defenseman simply wasn’t good enough to fill a role as a puck-moving defenseman — and was a major liability while soaking up 29:30 minutes of ice time along Boston’s backline in the pivotal Game 7 loss. The veteran blueliner, in a move that didn’t exactly scream out playoff-style conservatism, pinched to keep a puck in the offensive zone during the second period.
But Montador couldn’t keep it in the zone and the old Russian pocket rocket made him pay.
The little move of offensive aggression was just enough space for Sergei Samsonov to get behind a covering Michael Ryder, and the heady Russian winger moved right toward the Boston cage. Joni Pitkanen slid a pass to the front of the net with Samsonov bearing down on Thomas, and he cleanly beat Ryder to the loose puck. With Montador lagging behind and away from the all-important cage, Samsonov flipped a puck past Thomas to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
It’s easy to brush off the important rookie Matt Hunwick and veteran Andrew Ference, and their overall importance to the Boston hockey club. But the absence of their puck-moving, offensive skills left a huge void on the Spoked B defenseman corps once forechecking opponents really attacked behind the Boston cage. Anytime the Boston skaters were complimenting on Carolina’s great “team speed”, it was all about the tireless attackers that the Hurricanes just kept sending skaters behind the net on kamikaze missions.
Hunwick had nearly 30 points as a rookie with the Bruins this season, and was a speedy, energetic, offensive-minded difference-maker at the end of the regular season. He ended the season as the third-leading scorer amongst Boston defenseman during the regular campaign, and was sorely missed after he left the lineup with a ruptured spleen suffered against the Habs.
“Munch” even hopped on to the top power play unit as one of the points on the top unit toward the end of the year, and the move immediately paid dividends for a man advantage unit that struggled at the end of the regular season — just as they did in the playoffs against Carolina.
When Ference is healthy, he’s also another skater that can use his mobility, creativity and offensive instincts to make the opposition pay with good passes if they’re too aggressive with the forecheck. Instead, both Ference and Hunwick were gone with injuries and the B’s were left with far too many tentative, mistake-prone defenseman that simply couldn’t make the Canes pay for their aggressive forecheck.
Things could have been different had Hunwick and Ference been able to play. It’s a refrain you’ll no doubt hear quite a bit this summer as the Bruins get ready for golf season.
|Steve Montador doubtful for Saturday’s matinee||03.06.09 at 1:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A spirited Bruins practice this morning with a good deal of skating and only one Bruins player missing: Steve Montador. The newly acquired defenseman was suffering from some flu-like symptoms and wasn’t able to make it to practice at Ristuccia Arena after traveling to Boston late Wednesday night to make it for Thursday’s morning skate prior to last night’s loss.
“Because he’s got that flu today and there’s the one o’clock game tomorrow (against the Blackhawks) I’d be very surprised if he’d be ready to go,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’ve got some healthy guys. I don’t think there’s any reason to be a guy out there that isn’t 100 percent tomorrow. I’d put him as doubtful.”
In the first of the many competitions for ice time that Julien will have at his disposal with the depth provided by both Mark Recchi and Montador, Matt Hunwick and Blake Wheeler were splitting time on the left wing of David Krejci’s line — and there’s a possibility that Wheeler could be headed for a Saturday scratch in favor of the hustling, hump-busting Hunwick.
“We’ve looked at different scenarios and we’ll continue to expierament with that going forward,” said Julien. “Today we have Hunny, who we can use at forward and at defense, and we made lines of four for the last couple of lines. I think you’ll see (Hunwick) practicing at both position and we’ll use him at both positions as well.
“Certain players are struggling a little bit and somehow you have to create that competition from within,” added Julien. “I’m just hoping our team can play more like we did in the third period (Thursday) night. The fact that we’re struggling to win games and that every game seems to such a big challenge has taken away a bit from that energy and enthusiasm. If we can bring what we had (in the third period) for 60 minutes, then you’re going to start getting positive results and the emotion and everything else will start to come back.”
Hunwick impressed with his speed and physical intensity during his short stint at forward over the last week. Wheeler finished with 10:35 of ice time in last night’s loss, his lowest total of time on ice since he hit the bench in the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers back on Feb. 7.