|Don Cherry on D&C: Matt Cooke is ‘a little rat,’ Mario Lemieux ‘one of the biggest phonies’||03.22.11 at 9:20 am ET|
CBC hockey commentator Don Cherry joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Matt Cooke suspension, what could happen the next time Zdeno Chara travels to Montreal and the recent slide of the Bruins.
After a seven-game winning streak that seemed to announce the Bruins as serious Stanley Cup contenders, the club has struggled, posting a 1-3-3 mark in its last seven games. Cherry was asked if the Bruins were built for a deep postseason run.
“There’s something wrong there,” said Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-79. “Right now, there’s something wrong with that team. When they came into Toronto, and they were absolutely awful. But if you’re going to take a swoon, this is the time to do it. I would like to see [Shawn] Thornton play. He hasn’t played that much since [Chris] Kelly came to Boston. ‘¦ I would play Thornton a regular shift because he’s the Bruins for sure.”
The NHL suspended Penguins forward Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the entire first round of the playoffs on Monday, the fifth suspension in Cooke’s 12-year career. Cooke, of course, was not suspended for the elbow to the head of Marc Savard last year, which directly caused what might turn out to be a career-ending concussion for the Bruins center. Cherry feels if Cooke had been properly disciplined for the Savard hit it might have prevented the elbow to Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that led to Cooke’s suspension.
“He should have been tossed for what happened to Savard, but they said they didn’t have a rule,” Cherry said. “The guy never even got four minutes or anything for that. If he had got [suspended for] 20 games then, maybe he would have been straightened out. He should have been suspended for what he did to Savard and he got his comeuppance. ‘¦ They should have given him 20-30 games back then and it might have straightened the little rat out.”
Cherry added that Mario Lemieux, who complained about dirty play following last month’s game against the Islanders, is “one of the biggest phonies I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“He says, ‘we have to get ride of headshots,’ and the [president], Dave Morehouse, says ‘we have to get rid of headshots,’ and [general manager] Ray Shero, who I really like, says the same thing. What happens? They’ve got the [biggest] headshot guy of all time, they’re paying his paychecks. What a bunch of hypocrites, I’ll tell you.”
Chara was not suspended for his March 8 hit of Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and a non-displaced fracture of cervical vertebrae. This led to outrage throughout Montreal, and Montreal police did open a criminal investigation against Chara. Cherry was asked if the Boston defenseman has reason to be concerned about future trips to Montreal.
“Who’s going to arrest him? That’s not going to happen. And the Canadiens have really have nobody to do anything to him,” Cherry said. “Who would? And if the game is close, nothing is going to happen. He’s too big, too strong. ‘¦ There’s no way he did that to that guy [on purpose], he was just taking that guy out. And I really give it to the owners ‘ the Molsons ‘ they didn’t have enough padding on that turnbuckle. It should have been padded, the kid would have bounced right off.”
To hear the interview, click here.
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Blue Jackets in shootout to snap skid||03.15.11 at 9:47 pm ET|
The Bruins fell behind in the final minute of the first period when Grant Clitsome sent a blast from the blue line past Rask, but a Zdeno Chara shot that went off David Krejci would tie it in the second. With the Bruins trailing in the third period and Nathan Horton in the box for holding the stick, Rich Peverley scored the B’s eighth shorthanded goal of the season, beating Steve Mason for his 16th goal of the season.
Rask, who had 32 saves in regulation, made timely saves in the third period in stopping Jakub Voracek, Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett on key Blue Jackets opportunities. He followed that by stopping Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin in the shootout.
The Bruins will head to Nashville to face the Predators on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- While benching Michael Ryder may have opened some eyes, there’s no debating that the Bruins are in better shape for a shootout with Seguin in the lineup. The rookie has struggled to pin down the NHL game physically, but when it comes to skating down the ice untouched, talent trumps all.
- The Bruins may have not seen much time on the power play, but they scored more than Columbus on Blue Jackets power plays. The B’s killed off all six penalties they took, with Peverley scoring the timely short-handed goal.
- Either Milan Lucic or Krejci were bound to see their point streaks continue due to the B’s first goal, and after a scoring change it proved to be Krejci. Lucic hit Johnny Boychuk with a pass in the offensive zone, with Boychuk setting up a Chara blast that went off Krejci before sailing past Steve Mason. Though Lucic didn’t get an assist on the play, he still has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last six games. Krejci now has at least one point in each of his last six games, and eight points (2 G, 6 A) over the span.
- Good to see Rask play the role of stopper, as he picked up the Bruins’ first win in five games. The Bruins’ four-game skid was the ninth time this season the team had lost at least two games in a row. Of the previous eight occurrences, Tim Thomas had gotten the win that followed the first five losing streaks, with Rask now serving as the stopper in the last four. That’s a combination of both coincidence and the fact that Claude Julien is giving his young goaltender more time down the stretch.
- Mark Recchi continues the climb up the list for most games played. Tuesday, he surpassed former Bruin Dave Andreychuk, and at 1,640 games, Recchi is now fifth all-time.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins had just one power play in the game, and it lasted all of five seconds. Patrice Bergeron took an interference penalty following the face-off that began an Antione Vermette hooking minor. The team’s power play struggles have been well-documented (just one power play goal since Feb. 28), and having just five seconds on the man advantage isn’t exactly the right way to remedy them.
- Scottie Upshall continues to haunt Rask. Nice puck-movement by his line drew Rask way out of his net with less than eight minutes to go, and Upshall easily put his 20th of the season into an unoccupied net. The goal was his third goal against Rask in three games facing him.
- That’s now two games in a row in which Nathan Horton has taken a penalty in the final seven minutes of the game with the Bruins trailing. Horton was called for interference at 13:12 of the third period against the Islanders on Saturday, and he went off at 13:06 for holding the stick. Of course, the Bruins ended up tying the game with Horton in the box, but it certainly isn’t the type of habit the B’s want to develop. Krejci would later be called for a cross-check with 4:34 remaining.
|Zdeno Chara scores, Bruins lead Islanders after two||03.11.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
The power play drought is over, Zdeno Chara is making noise on the scoring sheet, and the Bruins lead the Islanders 2-1 after the second period.
The Bruins captain scored his 12th goal of the season when sound passing by Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci led to a blast from the top of the left circle on a 5-on-3. It was the Bruins’ first goal in their last 22 power plays.
Chara drew both penalties, as he was held by Milan Jurcina and saw the Islanders turned a shorthanded bid into a Bruins 5-on-3 when Frans Nielson cross-checked him in the Bruins’ zone.
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|Zdeno Chara appreciates the ‘nice gesture’ of Max Pacioretty||03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|Brad Boyes burns Bruins in overtime||at 9:48 pm ET|
A couple of players with Boston ties burned the B’s in overtime, as former Bruin Brad Boyes took a pass from BC product Nathan Gerbe to beat Tim Thomas for a 4-3 Sabres win with 1:16 remaining.
Zdeno Chara, who has been a popular topic of discussion in the last two days, had two assists for the B’s, who have now gone three games without a win (0-1-2).
The Sabres received their regulation scoring from Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 42 saves in the victory.
The Bruins will follow Thursday’s loss by heading to Long Island for a bout with the Islanders.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Sabres had two separate two-man advantages on the night, and the B’s were only able to kill off the first one, which lasted 30 seconds in the second period.
The second one proved more challenging. With Mark Recchi already in the box for high-sticking, Brad Marchand was the victim of a bad (and late) tripping call. The Sabres had 1:44 of a 5-on-3 to deal with, and Tim Connolly put home a rebound with 20 seconds remaining on Recchi’s penalty.
The Sabres would go 2-for-7 on the power play on the night, as Vanek’s goal came with Johnny Boychuk in the box in the second period.
- The Bruins blew a two different leads, one of which was of two-gaol variety. With the B’s leading, 2-0, in the second, Ennis scored just 27 seconds after Recchi’s goal, and Vanek made it a tie game about eight minutes later. Less than minutes after Campbell gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead, Connolly returned the game to a tie.
- The B’s had just seven shots on goal in both the second and third periods after having 15 in the first. Shots on goal can be an overrated statistic at times, but its easy to blow leads when you’re not getting pucks to the net.
- While Chara’s production was strong in the game, he was the recipient of a very questionable boarding call on Steve Montador. What will this mean to the criminal investigation?
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- The David Krejci line remains red hot. Both Milan Lucic and Krejci have 13 points in their last 10 games, as well as four-game point-streaks. Horton, meanwhile, has five goals in his last nine games. The Bruins will need their top line producing like this come the playoffs, so their stellar play and production over the last few weeks is a very good sign.
- It was a good debut production-wise for the new line of Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Recchi scored his first goal in nine games, a tally that was assisted by Ryder, but that Chara largely set up with an aggressive pinch down low.
- Timely scoring from Gregory Campbell this season, as he came up big back in November to send the game vs. the Blues to overtime. The Merlot Line center’s 10th of the season was a big one as well, as it gave the B’s the lead in the third.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke to the media Thursday morning, doing so for the first time since learning that he would not be suspended for his hit that left Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty hospitalized with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrea. Following the ruling, Pacioretty lashed out to TSN, saying the he was “disgusted” that Chara, who he felt intended to injure him, was not punished.
“I mean, I totally understand,” Chara said of Pacioretty’s reaction to the ruling. “He’s in the hospital, so he’s got the right to be emotional, and I respect that. I obviously feel bad that he got hurt. As a player, as a hockey player, we all feel bad when something like that happens. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the home team or the visiting team.
“Obviously I’m wishing him a fast recovery, and hopefully he can be back on the ice soon. That’s all we’ll have to do. We play hockey. Obviously when we go out there, we take risk, and sometimes we do get hurt. It’s just very unfortunate.”
One reason that Chara has been put in such a negative light over the play is because of his history with Pacioretty. The B’s captain got tangled up with the Habs forward in each of the team’s previous meetings, as Pacioretty shoved Chara after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime on Jan. 8 and jumped Chara’s defensive partner in Steven Kampfer on Feb. 9. Chara insisted Thursday that he didn’t even know it was Pacioretty when he hit him.
“It was the face-off, and we tried to set up a play, and basically the puck went to the other side, and we were racing for the puck,” Chara said. “I had no idea he was on the ice. I had no idea it was him.”
Chara also touched on the possibility of a criminal charges, as Montreal police have launched an investigation.
“I got some media information on that this morning, but right now I’m focusing on my game and playing hockey,” he said. “We’ll see.”
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