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Bruins preach optimism over tough love amidst free fall 04.06.16 at 1:53 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

WILMINGTON — The Bruins have had many moments over the last decade in which their leaders have found various ways to get whatever they could from their teammates.

Back in 2011, Shawn Thornton decorated the Bruins’ dressing room with old pictures of Bruins Stanley Cup moments and Mark Recchi brought in his Stanley Cup rings in an effort to motivate the B’s to bounce back from a Game 6 loss to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals and push their way to the Stanley Cup Final with a Game 7 win.

That’s a well-known example, but there are likely several others that haven’t made it out of the Bruins’ room: words of wisdom, pissed off speeches, etc.

The B’s are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. They’ve slid out of a playoff spot and, with two games remaining in the regular season, need help from teams in front of them if they want to return to the postseason.

Though a tiny possibility exists that the B’s could make the playoffs even if they lose Thursday to the Red Wings (it would involve Detroit also beating Philly Wednesday and the Flyers then losing at least two of their final three games), Thursday is essentially a must-win.

So is this a time for optimism or a time for an angry captain?

“My job is, most of all, to lead by my play and the way I act,” Zdeno Chara told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It’s easy to be pointing fingers and easy to be saying, ‘Hey, I’m disappointed,’ and looking at the glass as half-empty, but the situation we’re in, that’s the way it is and we’ve got to make the best of it.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Zac Rinaldo voted dirtiest, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara voted biggest pains in National Post NHL player poll 03.29.16 at 1:54 pm ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

The National Post polled both NHL players and fans on a number of NHL-related topics recently, ranging from who they felt would win the Stanley Cup to which Canadian cities in the league they liked and disliked.

The Bruins were well-represented in the responses from players. On the subject of who was the “biggest pain in the ass to play against,” Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand tied for the most votes, as Chara, Marchand, Corey Perrt and Ryan Kesler each received 11 percent of the votes. Three-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron got nine percent of the votes.

As one might have expected, the Bruins were also popular in the dirtiest player vote, as nearly half of the votes cast went to players in the Boston organization. Zac Rinaldo, who is currently playing in Providence but will serve a five-game suspension when he returns to the NHL, got 25 percent of the votes. Just behind him was Marchand at 22 percent. Marchand and Rinaldo tied for the most votes in last year’s poll.

Former Bruin Phil Kessel was voted the most overrated player in the NHL, getting 29 percent of the votes. To see the complete results as well as the fan vote, click here.

National Post graphic

National Post graphic

Read More: Brad Marchand, Zac Rinaldo, Zdeno Chara,
Zdeno Chara: Bruins ‘got absolutely embarrassed’ by Kings 02.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET
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The Bruins allowed 57 shots on goal — the most they’ve given up in a game since 1965 — in an ugly 9-2 loss to the Kings Tuesday. After the game, the team hardly sounded like a group pushing for the second spot in the Atlantic Division and more like a fledgling team chasing the prowess it had in years past.

“We got absolutely embarrassed,” Zdeno Chara said. “They played a really good game, but we had nowhere near the game that we needed to play. It was embarrassing.”

The B’€™s allowed seven straight goals after taking a 1-0 lead in the first period. The loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams this season.

“There are things that obviously are going to stay inside this locker room, but we just need to be better,” Chara said. “We need to perform better. We’€™ve had a few stretches where we’€™ve played well, we won some tight games and some big games and we were facing some challenges or teams on top of the league and we didn’€™t follow up with the performances that we had previous games. That’€™s again tonight’€™s case. It was embarrassing.”

Said David Krejci: “The way we lost, especially the second and third period, it’€™s just unacceptable. You should go out there even if you’€™re losing 6-1 after the second period and show some pride, you know? Try to show fans that we respect them coming here. We don’€™t want to get booed in our own building. We didn’€™t respond. It was embarrassing.”

Read More: David Krejci, Zdeno Chara,
3rd-place Bruins say they’ve ‘surprised,’ ‘proved people wrong’ 01.27.16 at 2:15 am ET
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Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner

The Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break didn’t go their way, a 6-2 loss to Anaheim that dropped the B’s home record to a lousy 11-13-2.

However, the players in the Boston dressing room seemed content with their lot in life as they packed up for a week’s furlough, a 26-18-5 season mark in tow that was holding them third place in the Atlantic Division with 33 games remaining on the season.

“We’ve surprised a lot of people,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “We’re not surprised in here where we [are]. We had a goal to be in the top three [of our division] before the All-Star break and we’re sitting right there.”

“At the beginning of the year there were a lot of people that probably thought that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” echoed forward Ryan Spooner. “You kind of heard that stuff, and that we would be a younger team. But we’ve shown that we can play with the top teams. We’ve proved a lot of people wrong and we just have to keep that up.”

The Bruins have indeed exceeded many preseason prognostications to this point. The team’s 21-10-2 record against the Eastern Conference shines bright, as does its 12-6-1 mark within the division. The latter includes a 4-0 performance against the two teams ahead of Boston in the Atlantic (Florida and Detroit).

That said, despite winning five of their last seven games, players also are willing to admit that their current playoff perch is a tenuous one.

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Read More: Claude Julien, Ryan Spooner, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask
Kevan Miller is the exception to the Zdeno Chara rule 01.06.16 at 11:16 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

If and when Claude Julien writes a book on how to make still-developing defensemen good, Zdeno Chara will write the foreword, which will consist of “Play them with me,” and then the book will be over.

Chara has had some great partners over the years with the Bruins — Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton come to mind — but it’€™s no secret that Julien can take any player who is otherwise OK and make him very good by skating him with Chara. The reason, quite simply, is because Chara is such a dominant player that skating with him more than makes up for the difficult competition that comes with playing on a top pairing.

This has been the case for a number of players over the years. Among them: Zach Trotman, Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer.

Not Kevan Miller.

Miller, mysteriously, is the exception to this rule.

“But Deej!” you say. “That just means that Kevan Miller stinks!”

Not necessarily, and that’€™s rude. The 28-year-old Miller, who is still just 119 games into his NHL career, is an OK third-pairing defenseman, as some of the aforementioned names were when they were put on pairings with Chara. Yet instead of getting better when playing with Chara, this season has suggested that Miller gets worse when paired with the (somehow only) one-time Norris winner.

Miller’€™s most common partner this season has been Torey Krug, with whom he’€™s played 160:24 in 5-on-5. His next most-common partner has been Chara, with whom he’€™s played 120:22 of 5-on-5 time. Playing with Krug often draws so-so competition — Krug has had the fifth-toughest quality of competition among Bruins defensemen this season, using time on ice of competition as a barometer — whereas playing with Chara draws the other team’€™s best players, as evidenced by Chara having the hardest quality of competition.

Miller has been fine with Krug. The Bruins have outscored opponents when the two have played together — 2.62 goals for per 60; 1.12 goals against per 60 for a goals for percentage of 70. When Chara and Miller are together, the Bruins are outscored — 2.49 goals for per 60 and 4.49 goals against per 60, making for a rather horrifying 35.7 goals for percentage.

That’€™s the comparison of Miller with Chara versus Miller with Krug. The numbers of Miller simply with and without Chara are even more telling:

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 10.52.16 PM

“But Deej!” you say. “Maybe Miller’€™s worse with Chara than players in seasons past because Chara has gotten worse! Chara just looks slower out there!”

No. Chara is still having the Chara effect on his partners. Including Kevan Miller, five defensemen have played at least 20 minutes of 5-on-5 with Chara this season. The four not named Kevan Miller all have better numbers with Chara than without him. All four — Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman — have better goals for percentages with Chara, while Trotman’€™s minor bump in Corsi For percentage without Chara (48.8 with him, 49.0 without him) is the only trace of a player’€™s possession numbers not dipping when not with Chara.

Whether it’€™s the quality of competition that comes with skating as Chara’€™s partner or the fact that the duo lacks mobility, the Chara-Kevan Miller pairing has not been good. While that’€™s not reason enough to write off Miller altogether, it’€™s reason enough for Julien to separate the pairing, which he used to begin Tuesday night’€™s game against the Capitals.

If McQuaid is to miss any stretch of time, the numbers indicate that Julien would be wise to not play Miller to Chara’€™s right, where McQuaid has often played this season. The Bruins have other options — Trotman, Colin Miller — and Kevan Miller figures to be better off with Krug.

Read More: Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara,
Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara can’t explain Bruins falling so flat 01.01.16 at 6:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — No excuses.

The Bruins managed just three shots in the opening 20 minutes of the biggest hockey spectacle in New England since the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.

They went a span of 15 minutes in the first period without a single shot.

The Bruins were without the suspended Brad Marchand and the injured David Krejci but still, Bruins players couldn’t come up with a reason for such a flat effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal in the 2016 Winter Classic.

“We couldn’t generate any rhythm,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We weren’t first on pucks. We were second on every one of them, and you can’€™t get any pucks on net if you don’€™t have the puck, so that was basically the reason why.”

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Read More: 2016 Winter Classic, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Patrice Bergeron
Zdeno Chara returns from upper-body injury, Bruins assign Matt Irwin to Providence 10.12.15 at 11:56 am ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will play his first game of the season Monday afternoon when the B’€™s host the Lightning in a 1 p.m. matinee at TD Garden.

Chara, who suffered an upper-body injury in his first preseason game on Sept. 24, missed games last week against the Jets and Canadiens. The Bruins could certainly use him, as they’€™ve allowed 10 goals in the first two games of the season and have lacked both experienced defensemen and capable penalty-killers.

Chara has been skating since Sept. 29 and has looked much less limited in recent days. He still isn’t putting his full force into slap shots, but he has taken more contact in practice.

To make room for Chara on the 23-man roster, the Bruins assigned defenseman Matt Irwin to Providence. Irwin went unclaimed after being placed on waivers Sunday.

Tuukka Rask will be in goal for the Bruins Monday.

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