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Canucks preparing for a series’ worth of Zdeno Chara 05.31.11 at 12:44 am ET
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VANCOUVER — The Bruins know that they have plenty of guys who can create problems for other teams. Tim Thomas can be unbeatable, while David Krejci made things very hard for both the Flyers and Lightning in the last two rounds of the playoffs. Very high on (and perhaps at the top) of the list of players the Canucks might worry about is Zdeno Chara.

With the captain and Dennis Seidenberg providing Boston with an outstanding top pairing this postseason, Vancouver’s first line of the brothers Sedin and Alex Burrows.

As has been well-documented, the Sedins have not played to their usual point (or more) a game pace when facing the Bruins. Daniel Sedin has five points in 10 career games vs. Boston, while Henrik Sedin has four points in 11 games against the B’s. Not all of those have come against Chara, and ultimately the biggest thing Henrik feels he lacks going into the Stanley Cup matchup is experience against the 6-foot-9 defenseman.

“He was in Ottawa and we played him a couple times there,” Henrik said, “and Boston maybe once or twice [note: the Bruins have played the Canucks four times since signing Chara in 2006]. We played the Slovaks in the Olympics a couple of times, but that’s it.’€

The Sedins faced Chara three times when he played for the Senators. Each brother had one goal over those three games.

“I haven’t really seen him play in game action like for a lot of time,’€ Henrik admitted. ‘€œIt’s tough for me to [pick up] what his tendencies are. Like if you want to get close to him or if you want to try to move around him. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

The Sedins (and all of Vancouver’€™s forwards, for that matter) are not the only ones who have to worry about Boston’s captain. In an attempt to help a historically bad power play, Claude Julien finally moved Chara up front on the man advantage to create chaos for the goaltender. Roberto Luongo has taken notice, and said Monday that when the Bruins are on the power play, he hopes that Chara’s the only one in front.

“I think the key is not to get into battles in front of the net with him as far as our D men are concerned and things like that,” Luongo, a Vezina finalist, said. “For myself, I prefer to just leave him there by himself and it will be easier for me to pick up the puck than having one of our D men try to move him out of the way. I mean, I don’t know if we have anybody strong enough back there. Maybe [Aaron Rome], but apart from that, that’s it.”

Whether or not Chara has company in front, Luongo’€™s coach has faith that his netminder can deal with him.

‘€œRoberto has seen big bodies in front of him before,’€ Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ‘€œHe’s adapted his style to that this year. He’s staying in the blue paint to play his game. He’s been excellent all year, so it’s just another big body for him.’€

Chara is a finalist for the Norris Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the league’€™s top defenseman. He won it back in 2009 with the B’€™s, and has been a frequent finalist.

This postseason, he leads all skaters with a plus-11 rating. He missed Game 2 of the first round due to illness, but his 28:17 average time on ice is second only to Seidenberg for the most among remaining players.

‘€œHe’s one of the best defensemen in the league,’€ Vigneault said. ‘€œHe’s strong 1-on-1, and without a doubt, he uses his size to his advantage. Obviously it’s a challenge for us offensively to try and generate when he’s on the ice.’€

The players might not be used to Chara, but they’€™ll have to get used to him in a hurry. With Seidenberg turning in a stellar postseason that was brought into the spotlight with his eight-block performance in Game 7 vs. the Lightning, they should be prepared for a difficult time. On the other hand, Henrik Sedin hopes the unfamiliarity is a two-way street.

“I’m hoping it’s going to help us that they haven’t seen us that much,” Henrik said. “But we’ll see. They’ve got to watch their video, we’ve got to watch ours, so it shouldn’t be a big difference.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Roberto Luongo, Stanley Cup Finals, Zdeno Chara
Canucks’ Cory Schneider on M&M: Bruins ‘a tough matchup’ in Stanley Cup finals 05.30.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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Former Boston College standout and current Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning to talk about the upcoming Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Schneider said that although the Canucks didn’€™t learn all that much about the Bruins from their 3-1 loss in February, what he’€™s noticed most from watching the playoffs is Boston’€™s depth.

‘€œThey have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,’€ Schneider said. ‘€œOn any given night for them a different guy can step up and be the difference.’€

Schneider also said the Canucks would need to keep track of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in particular. He called Lucic a ‘€œbig guy who can disrupt a lot of plays and go to the net and create problems.’€ He compared Bergeron with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler: a multi-talented player who contributes on offense, defense, faceoffs and special teams.

‘€œHe [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’€™re not paying attention,’€ Schneider said.

Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara‘€™s defense, calling him a ‘€œNo. 1 guy’€.

‘€œHe’€™s got such a long reach that it doesn’€™t matter who you put out against him, he’€™s going to try and find a way to shut them down,’€ Schneider said. He added that the Canucks’€™ Swedish twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, might be able to beat Chara.

‘€œYou probably haven’€™t seen anything like them when they’€™re playing down low,’€ Schneider said. ‘€œThey’€™re cycling the puck and they make these soft passes to each other, you have no idea how they made it. It’€™s pretty incredible to watch. That will be a great matchup.’€

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Cory Schneider, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron
Zdeno Chara: Mentally tough B’s had ‘mindset’ to beat Dwayne Roloson 05.28.11 at 1:14 am ET
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While Dwayne Roloson was putting forth the performance of a lifetime – epic by even Stanley Cup playoff standards – it was fair to wonder if it just wasn’t meant to be for the Bruins in Game 7.

But for these Bruins, thankfully, that question never even entered their mind. That’s essentially why they were finally able to beat the apparently unbeatable 41-year-old goalie for one Nathan Horton tally with 7:33 left and make it stand in a Game 7 1-0 win for the ages that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals.

“We’ve had a few games like that, even in regular season,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “To have that performance in Game 7, it’s just nice to see. Everybody bought into it. It was really a strong mindset before the game, throughout the whole game. I was very impressed the way we played and never changed anything.”

Even when David Krejci pulled out all the tricks with point-blank shots and spin-o-ramas and Brad Marchand was firing shots on from great passes from Patrice Bergeron in the second period.

“We talked about it between periods, just stick with it, stick with it and eventually, it did happen,” Chara said. “It’s something you have to do that to be able to accomplish something. Everybody has to play the same way. It’s a team discipline.”

Chara and the Bruins were being denied time after time by Roloson, a goalie, who entering Game 7, was 7-0 in elimination games in his career, including four wins in these 2011 playoffs, alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Dwayne Roloson, Milan Lucic
Ed Olczyk on M&M: Put Patrice Bergeron on top power play instead of Tomas Kaberle 05.27.11 at 1:05 pm ET
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Versus NHL analyst and former NHL center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.

“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”

Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.

“If you are struggling ‘€” and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg ‘€” if that’s my first unit.”

Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.

“But if the Bruins can play well defensively, and I think they will, I think they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dwayne Roloson, Ed Olczyk
Harry Sinden on D&C: ‘If we can’t stay out of the penalty box, all bets are off’ at 8:07 am ET
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Longtime Bruins executive Harry Sinden joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, with the Bruins hosting the Lightning Friday night. Sinden, who was the team’s general manager from 1972-2000, now serves as senior advisor to the owner and alternate governor. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Sinden expressed cautious optimism about the game. “I’m not sure they’ll win. I’m almost sure they’ll win,” he said. “Tim Thomas is, of course the key, the number one factor as to whether we win, for sure.”

Sinden said home-ice advantage isn’t a major factor, but it’s more evident in a Game 7 than any other time.

“I would give the advantage to the Bruins, Sinden said. “In hockey maybe the home ice isn’t as big of an advantage as it is in a couple of the other sports, particularly, it appears to me in basketball. But the seventh game I think is an advantage to be playing it at home. Even though Tampa has got a lot of momentum after that last game, I think it will be offset by the fact that we are playing in front of our fans. I give them a slight advantage for that.”

For the Bruins to be successful, Sinden said they need to take the pressure to the Lightning the way they are capable of doing.

“We have a team that can be a very, very strong checking team. It has the will of any of the good teams in the league to get that part of the game done,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t apply it, we kind of sit back and let the other team come to us. But on the nights that we go to the other team, it’s kind of almost as simple as that ‘€” instead of sitting back and letting them bring it you, you go to them, even if they have the puck. When we play like that, we’re pretty tough to beat with Tim Thomas in goal, really tough to beat.”

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Read More: Harry Sinden, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara,
Forechecking is part of Zdeno Chara’s new power-play duties 05.26.11 at 5:07 pm ET
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BEDFORD — Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins’ power play has looked better with Zdeno Chara set up in front. It has appeared to frustrate whoever the Lightning have had in net, it resulted in Chara drawing a penalty in Game 5, and it finally paid off with a goal in Game 6 when Matthias Ohlund stuck to Chara, freeing up David Krejci to tip home a pass from Nathan Horton.

Something that has gotten lost in the shuffle, though, is the job Chara has done forechecking on entries into the zone while playing forward. He has consistently either been the first to the puck or been right on the Lightning player who retrieves it.

As a defenseman — and one who doesn’t jump into the rush all that much — Chara doesn’t get too many chances to be one of the first guys in on the forecheck. He said he understands exactly what he has to do, though.

“Obviously when you’€™re up front, you have to get to the pucks and win the battles and races and get the puck to our guys,” Chara said Thursday. “It’€™s not really that big of an adjustment. You just have to time the speed going into the zone and kind of predict where the puck’€™s going to be.”

Once he helps the Bruins get possession, Chara knows his assignment is to park his 6-foot-9 frame right at the top of the crease.

“I try to just create some more traffic in front, some room for other guys, and do whatever I can to help the power play,” Chara said.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Zdeno Chara,
Mike Emrick on M&M: ‘Weird things can happen in a seventh game’ at 1:15 pm ET
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NBC and Versus play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss the Lightning-Bruins series  and preview Friday night’s Game 7 at TD Garden.

“The whole series has been [unusual], nothing [predictable] about what we’€™ll get tomorrow based on what we’€™ve seen so far,” Emrick said. “We know they are both good defensive teams, but try proving it.”

Emrick noted that Games 7’s are entirely unpredictable.

“Weird things that can happen in a seventh game we remember more because they were seventh games and not Games 4, 5 or 6’€™s,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody in a Game 7. You get the right penalty call at the right time, you get a fluky bounce. ‘€¦. If you care who wins you go, ‘€˜Shoot, this is torture.'”

To hear the entire interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Here are more highlights from the interview:

On the Bruins’ struggles on the power play: “It’€™s a very unusual squad because its only happened a couple of times in history. It’s never happened before that a team didn’€™t get one power play goal and won a series, which they did in seven games against Montreal.

“The power play did strike late [in Game 6] and that certainly helped, but overall it was as flawed on the night as Tampa Bay’€™s was strong. Special teams made a big difference in this game, and they tend to make a big difference in games, but when you have a Bruins team that has got this far without much of a power play you have to say, ‘Well the ultimate seventh game might it not mean anything.'”

On the Bruins adjustments, including Zdeno Chara to the front of the net on the power play: “I think that confused [Dwayne Roloson], [Chara] had a deflection once, he got tangled with him once. Some of the things they were doing didn’€™t work but [Claude Julien] is more of a status quo coach than [Guy] Boucher is, but the thing is they have both had success they way that they do.”

On the Tampa Bay power play: We talked earlier in the series about how  [David] Krejci, [Milan] Lucic and [Nathan] Horton had a lot of pressure because they weren’€™t producing well it was that same thing with the star power for Tampa Bay because [Vinny] Lecavalier and  [Steve] Stamkos haven’€™t aligned in recent games. They came to the floor last night.

“It may have been not so much the Bruins penalty kill, but the fact there was heat on these guys, the ultimate heat on these guys, that if they don’€™t perform last night they aren’€™t performing anymore till October. They rose to the occasion.”

On Tyler Seguin’s ice time: “I am not sure what kind of difference he would have made. You have to remember that  the game he had the four points in and tied a record, it wound up being a wacky wide open game that set up perfect for him.

“People say Seguin should get more time, and I understand that, but who will you take it away from? Maybe people would have people hand-picked to take time away from, but I can’t think of anyone. I know you mentioned [Mark] Recchi and thought he was out there too much, but there’s savvy and skill for a seventh game in particular that Mark Recchi has.”

On his Game 7 prediction: “This is going to be low scoring, and something bizarre will happen later on, but if I wake up two mornings from now and pick up the paper and realize the score was 7-6 I won’t be shocked.”

Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton
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