|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘Zdeno [Chara] is not the same player that he was’||03.26.15 at 2:00 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their run to make the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Part of the struggles for the Bruins this season has been the play of defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. McGuire feels Chara isn’t the same player as he’s been in the past, as he is now 38 years old.
“Zdeno [Chara] is not the same player that he was,” McGuire said. “He’s having a harder time maintaining lots of ice time. He’s making mistakes we’re not used to seeing him make in terms of turnovers below the goal line from the hash mark down to the goal line. He’s losing guys in coverage. Getting beat wide which we haven’t seen a lot of him over the years because of that long stick.
“I don’t think he has the quickness in confined areas that he used to have and again, that doesn’t mean he can’t get it back, but it hasn’t been there for him and I am huge a Dennis Seidenberg fan and Dennis has not been the same player and I think a lot of that is because of injury more than anything else, I really believe that.”
David Krejci is likely to return to the lineup Thursday night, and the Bruins now need to find a place for him to play. McGuire says it will be an “experiment” to see where exactly he will fit in and on which line.
“I think it’s going to be an experiment,” McGuire said. “I think you’re going to take your time. I don’t think you want take away Ryan Spooner’s ice time. You don’t want to take [Patrice] Bergeron‘s ice time. You need [Carl] Soderberg to deliver for you and Gregory Campbell plays a different role. It is going to be very interesting to see how they do it. I probably would start him playing on the wing with Bergeron just because he won’t have to do a lot of the defensive heavy lifting that a center man has to do because he has Patrice there to help him out and it’s an easier position to play up high. We’ll see. Let’s be honest, Reilly Smith would be the first person to tell you he has not had a sterling season.”
As for the current status of the team, the Bruins are currently out of the playoffs in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a point behind the Senators for the final spot. With nine games left in the regular-season, the team will need to get things going in a hurry in order to make the postseason.
“It’s not going well for them at all,” said McGuire. “There will be a lot of people watching the scoreboard tonight between Anaheim and Boston. This is not the position I’ll say just me in particular, I never thought the Bruins would be in this position. Even though I knew they would have a hard time replacing Jarome’s [Iginla] 30 goals, and he’s at 25 this year playing on a Colorado team that won’t make the playoffs and doesn’t have nearly the fire power that Boston does. But, he’s going to get 30 again, so replacing his 30 I thought would be tough and the Johnny Boychuk stuff would be tough, but I thought they would find a way doing it by committee, but they haven’t been able to do it. It’s been very disappointing.”
|Bobby Orr on D&C: Zdeno Chara ‘not finished yet’||02.13.15 at 12:16 pm ET|
The Bruins legend discussed the team’s current struggles to maintain consistency.
“In our game today, just get to the playoffs. If you can get to the playoffs, who knows?” Orr said. “Look at the Bruins, look who they’re competing against. How much stronger are the other teams? The parity is unbelievable, and if you get there, who knows?”
Added Orr: “One of the key things for all the teams is injuries. I mean, the injuries that the teams have right now and have had all season, if you can go into a playoff healthy, you’ve got a shot. I mean, nobody’s that much stronger than the next.”
One of the struggling Bruins is veteran captain Zdeno Chara, who has shown signs of slowing down in recent years.
“He’s not finished yet, but he plays a lot,” Orr said. “He’s so big. I mean, if we go back to last year’s playoffs and the Montreal series, you could see that he was tired. And they do play him a lot, and they’re kind of in a bind now. I think they’re four points ahead of Florida for the wild card position. They’ve got to play him, he’s their best defenseman. … It’s unfortunate they can’t give him a little bit of a rest.”
The Bruins occupy the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The rival Canadiens have shut out the Bruins in the season series this year, winning all four games between the teams.
“I’m not sure they’re that much better than the Bruins. It’s been like this for years,” Orr said when asked why the B’s haven’t been able to find a way to beat Montreal. “The Canadiens have had great luck against the Bruins, and it could be a head thing. The Canadiens come into Boston, and they play very well in the Garden. They really do. They’ve always played well in the Garden. Going back to my time, we had issues with the Canadiens. So it’s not just happening to this Bruins team, it’s been happening for a long time.”
Orr also offered his comments on the hot topic in New England sports: the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Leading up to the championship win two weeks ago, the national conversation was focused on the Deflategate controversy.
With that Super Bowl, Brady has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and is in the discussion for one of the best players in Boston sports history.
“Brady should be there. He’s a great quarterback, four championships, absolutely,” Orr said when asked if Brady deserved to be in that discussion. “Tom is a heck of a player.”
|Zdeno Chara: ‘We need to turn this thing around really quickly’||02.11.15 at 10:41 am ET|
The urgency was clearly marked in the first words Zdeno Chara spoke after the Bruins dropped a 5-3 decision to a Dallas Stars team not currently in the Western Conference playoff field.
“It was just a terrible effort,” the Bruins captain said. “It is something we need to get right and we don’t have much time. We need to turn this thing around really quickly. It is unacceptable to be getting scored on twice in one game [shorthanded] obviously in a crucial part of the game. We need to be better.”
After winning eight of their final 10 games in January to creep up within four points of first place Montreal in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have suddenly stumbled in February. They have lost three of four to open the month, and the one game they won (against the Islanders) they admittedly were fortunate to come out on top. They now lead the Florida Panthers by just four points (63-59) for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the East.
How does Chara explain bad habits creeping back in?
“It is something that we have sort it out,” Chara said. “We know that we have been better the last little while but again the last two, three games again, we started to have mental breakdowns and started drifting away from the game plan. That is something we can’t go back to again.
“I think it is a combination of maybe a number of things like you said. It is hard to really point at one thing. We know that when we play a certain way we are pretty effective and when we are not we start doing something different and that is how we get into trouble. A lot of times we need better effort, we need better urgency, we need better mental focus. It is just a combination of all of those things.”
Now the Bruins have to find their way through a five-game trip that begins Friday night in Vancouver, and includes trips to Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.
“It is disappointing. We know that it was our last game for a while at home and now we have a long road trip and for sure we wanted to finish with a way better effort and result than we did. So for sure that is disappointing.”
|Zdeno Chara says ‘my bad’ for running into Dougie Hamilton and giving Montreal game-winning goal||02.09.15 at 9:40 am ET|
For as much as Bruins fans might be frustrated with the unfinished chances that Daniel Paille continues to generate, no play summarizes Boston’s frustration this season with the Canadiens than the one in the opening minute of the third period Sunday night.
Dougie Hamilton had the puck in the high slot and appeared ready to take aim on the impenetrable Carey Price, with the Canadiens leading, 1-0. But Zdeno Chara, reading David Krejci circling around the net, collided with Hamilton. The back-check of his own teammate gave Dale Weise the puck. Weise found a sprinting Max Pacioretty at center ice and Pacioretty beat Tuukka Rask between the pads for a 2-0 Canadiens lead.
“That was my bad,” Chara said. “I saw David going around the net and I moved in and that’s something that I shouldn’t probably – usually you have the crossing defenseman moving in. I may have misread it and it ended up costing us. I’m taking blame for that because that’s something I should be more patient with and maybe take a look. Dougie [Hamilton] was in the right spot, David made the right play and, I don’t know, I just thought that I would have a chance to move in but that’s not the way we play.”
“I saw him last second,” Hamilton said of Chara. “I don’t know, I haven’t really seen it yet. I don’t know, just a bad bounce, miscommunication, and it results in a goal.”
Claude Julien did see it very clearly and left no doubt that he felt badly for Rask. It was his goalie who saved Chara in the first period when he lost a puck at the blue line and turned away a chance from Jacob De La Rose. In total, Rask stopped 31 of 33 shots but fell to 3-13-3 all time in the regular season against Montreal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins players would face new circumstances in World Cup of Hockey||01.28.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
When the return of the World Cup of Hockey was announced over the weekend, it wasn’t clear what that meant for the future of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics. One thing, however, was clear: It would not be the same experience as the Olympics.
By the time the tournament rolls around in the fall of 2016, some of the Bruins’ participants will be unfamiliar territory. While players like Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) will likely wear the sweaters of their respective countries as usual, other Bruins stars will face different circumstances.
Zdeno Chara has represented Slovakia in three Winter Olympics, but Slovakia is not one of the six countries set to have its own team (United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Sweden). Instead, Chara would qualify to play on Team Europe, which will consist of European players from countries not represented.
Dougie Hamilton, a Toronto native who represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, would actually find himself playing against Canada, as the final team in the tournament will consist of American and Canadian players ages 23 and under. Hamilton, 21, would be 23 at the time of the tournament. No other player on Boston’s current roster would qualify for the team, but Malcolm Subban (Toronto) would be an option for the squad, as he’ll be 22 years old.
While children in sports dream about one day representing their countries, few dream about playing on a team called the North American Young Stars. That said, Hamilton would welcome the different opportunity.
“You want to play for your country, obviously,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “It’s kind of unique, but I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to play with all those young guys from North America, and at the same time kind of hard to play against Canada. It’s kind of hard when you have to play against your own country. I think it’s still a long ways away, but something you could look forward to.”
Bergeron, who is well-versed in international play (he’s won Gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships in addition to his two Olympic Gold medals), likes the idea of having another squad for younger players, as Canada routinely turns away top talent due to its surplus of star players.
“Definitely [Team Canada] is going to be a tough team to make, and we know there’s great young players that are always coming up and don’t get a chance to get on either of these teams, US and Canada, but are still great players,” Bergeron said. “It could be a really good team.”
|Zdeno Chara’s hardest shot dominance ends; does he still think he has hardest shot in league?||01.12.15 at 1:16 pm ET|
Given that Chara is not an All-Star this season, he will not participate in the hardest shot competition, which he was won five times in a row from 2007-2012. The NHL has not had an All-Star weekend the last two seasons due to the 2012-13 lockout and the 2014 Winter Olympics, so Chara is still the defending champion in the talent show.
Over the years, Chara set new records in the contest and developed a good rivalry with Nashville’s Shea Weber, who has finished second to Boston’s captain in each of the last three contests. In the last contest, Chara’s shot was clocked at 108.8 mph, the fastest on record to date.
Chara is understanding of why he won’t take part in the contest, as he noted that you need to be an All-Star first, and it would have been hard to make a case for him qualifying.
“Obviously I missed a big chunk of the first half,” he said. “It’s based on the play and performance of the players, and obviously I didn’t play most of it.”
Given that there hasn’t been one of these contests in a couple years and that Chara is now in his age 37-38 season, it would have been interesting to see if Chara’s shot still reigned supreme. Furthermore, Chara is two victories shy of tying wooden stick wonder Al MacInnis for most hardest shot crowns (seven).
Chara’s been able to step into powerful shots at points this season on goals against Buffalo on Oct. 18 and last week in Pittsburgh. Asked whether he felt his shot remains the hardest in the league, Chara thought for three full seconds before answering.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a different thing doing the shots during the game and when you have to skate into it and wind up. I assume I could be up there, but a lot of guys have hard shots.”
Chara won’t win this season, but given that a healthy Chara should be an automatic All-Star, perhaps he’ll return to the contest in the coming seasons.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I think it was exciting for fans; it was exciting for players. We always made it kind of interesting with different players and it was always a bit hyped before the contest.”
|For Zdeno Chara, B’s ‘not there yet’ but moving in right direction||01.09.15 at 11:05 am ET|
As Claude Julien suggested after Thursday’s 3-0 victory over the Devils, the Bruins are still not the team they need to be but the ship is at least sailing in calmer waters after a second straight win.
The captain agrees.
Zdeno Chara was on the ice for one of the biggest moments of the game, setting up a screen in front on Milan Lucic‘s power play goal late in the first period as the Bruins finally capitalized on the chances the Devils were giving Boston in the opening 20 minutes.
“We made another step forward,” Chara said. “We’re not there yet we just got to continue to work really hard and stay on top of our game.”
For as rough as the Bruins have looked, Thursday’s win improves them to 21-15-6, good for 48 points and the eighth and final playoff spot in the East (as the second wild card). But step back and the players can see they’re only six points behind first-place Montreal in the Northeast. All is not lost. But after two straight wins, Chara isn’t focused so much on the standings as the method at this point, halfway through the season.
“It’s nice that you’re winning games now [but] we are not over the hump, we know that,” Chara said. “We won two games and we have a tough schedule before the All-Star break. We want to continue to play the way we’ve been playing the last two games and finish strong before the break. You can sense that the team is regaining the play and what we’re used to so, like I said, we have to stay on top of that.” Read the rest of this entry »
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara