|Zdeno Chara named finalist for Mark Messier Leadership Award||06.06.11 at 6:34 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was announced as a finalist for the 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award on Monday, with Messier making the announcement at TD Garden prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. The award is given to players based on their leadership and contributions to society. The other finalists are Shane Doan of the Coyotes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings.
Past winners include Sidney Crosby (2010), Jarome Iginla (2009) and Mats Sundin (2008). Of Chara, Messier said “I’m a big fan of Zdeno’s from the time he came into the league” and “I don’t think there’s a player who’s improved as much as this guy.” Chara has captained the Bruins since signing as an unrestriceted free agent in 2006.
Messier is the only player in NHL history to captain Stanley Cup champions in two different cities, as he won it as captain of the 1990 Oilers (who defeated the Bruins in the finals) and the 1994 Rangers.
NESN Bruins analyst and former defenseman Gord Kluzak called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Kluzak said that the Bruins could have won either of the first two games had they played slightly better.
‘I think they have had breakdowns at times that have really hurt,’ Kluzak said. ‘I think if they get back to what they can do ‘ and the model is Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay ‘ this thing is very winnable. I’m much more optimistic than I hear you guys were this morning.
“I don’t think Vancouver is as good as advertised. I’ve never been overly impressed with the Sedins. I think [Ryan] Kessler may be hurt, the way that [Johnny] Boychuk hit happened early on in Game 2. I didn’t think Kessler was the same player, and I think if you’re the Bruins you’re trying to be as physical as you can with him because he is the key, in my opinion. I think this is still very winnable. The Bruins obviously have to play near-perfect hockey, but I think they can do that.’
‘Chara up front in the power play is just a waste of energy and time,’ Kluzak said. ‘Look at the way Milan [Lucic] scored his goal. It was a rebound in front. Well, that’s what the power play is all about. That’s why you need him out there, and it doesn’t help you to have the guy that you rely on the most in your own zone up front of the net on the power play when you have a guy that’s probably better at it and would be more suited to it.’
Kluzak said he thought that Peverley’s speed ‘would open the ice up a little bit more for Bergeron.’
Kluzak said he did not think fatigue is an issue for Chara. ‘This is a guy who rides 110 miles on a bike through the mountains every summer day,’ Kluzak said. ‘This guy is the best-conditioned athlete I think I’ve ever seen.’
Despite Shawn Thornton‘s physicality, Kluzak said more playing time for the enforcer is not the answer for the Bruins.
‘The guy you would have to take out of the lineup is [Daniel] Paille, and Paille is an outstanding penalty-killer,’ Kluzak said. ‘He’s executed that, and I think you really need that skill set. You don’t want to use your better offensive players in that penalty-killing situation.’
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Tim Thomas is perfectly happy with the way he’s playing, so is Claude Julien||06.05.11 at 6:13 pm ET|
Tim Thomas made one thing pretty clear Sunday.
He’s not about to change his aggressive approach in goal now.
The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was outstanding in Game 1 and for most of Game 2 before allowing the game-tying goal with over 10 minutes left in regulation and a bizarre goal 11 seconds into overtime when he fell down chasing Alex Burrows.
Upon his arrival back in Boston Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Thomas was asked about whether he regrets his aggressive approach or plans on adjusting his tact in goal.
“I have a pretty good idea how to play goalie,” Thomas said at the beginning of the press conference. “I’m not going to take advice or suggestions at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”
Following a five-hour flight back from Vancouver, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins came to the Garden briefly to check into their dressing room and fulfill a media obligation on the offday between Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think we’ve played in front of Timmy Thomas,” coach Claude Julien said. “To me, he’s a Vezina Trophy winner. We are here right now because his contribution has been really good. For us to be sitting here having to answer those questions is ridiculous to me. He’s won a Vezina Trophy already, he’s probably going to win one this year, in my mind anyway, for what he’s done. Read the rest of this entry »
While Pederson said that inserting Shawn Thornton into the starting lineup was important to the Bruins turning the Stanley Cup finals around, playing 60 minutes of physical hockey was essential.
‘The Bruins have got to do what they have not done in the third periods of both games,’ Pederson said. ‘When you listen to the coach, what he’s most frustrated about is both of those games they had an opportunity to win, and they lost non-Bruin-like, which was to sit back and allow the opponent to take the game to you.’
Pederson said that the defense had to tighten up in support of Tim Thomas and stop allowing outnumbered situations. Part of that means the forwards making smarter decisions in the neutral zone, and part of that means resting Zdeno Chara on the power play.
‘[Chara] is the single best shut-down defenseman in the National Hockey League,’ Pederson said. ‘So I want that matchup against the [Daniel and Henrik] Sedin twins. I know that [Vancouver coach] Alain Vigneault is going to be coming after every power play that Vancouver kills off, the first guys that are going to be thrown out there are the Sedin twins. I want to make sure that my top pair is fresh.’
|Canucks preparing for a series’ worth of Zdeno Chara||05.31.11 at 12:44 am ET|
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. ‘It’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.
‘Roberto has seen big bodies in front of him before,’ Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ‘He’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.
‘He’s one of the best defensemen in the league,’ Vigneault said. ‘He’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.”
|Canucks’ Cory Schneider on M&M: Bruins ‘a tough matchup’ in Stanley Cup finals||05.30.11 at 1:00 pm ET|
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.
‘They have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,’ Schneider said. ‘On 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 ‘big 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.
‘He [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’re not paying attention,’ Schneider said.
Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara‘s defense, calling him a ‘No. 1 guy’.
‘He’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.
‘You probably haven’t seen anything like them when they’re playing down low,’ Schneider said. ‘They’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.’