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Chara: ‘We know we have to be better’ 03.02.10 at 10:45 pm ET
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For 40 minutes, it looked like Zdeno Chara and the Bruins had the Canadiens right where they wanted them.

They were playing solid defense, Tuukka Rask had turned away all 18 shots and run his shutout streak to 127 minutes, 15 seconds and they even converted a chance in front of the opposing goalie on the power play for a 1-0 lead.

All the Bruins had to do was keep it up for 20 more minutes and not only would they finally win at home, they would run their winning streak to five games and put some distance between themselves and the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

But as was the case before the break, the Bruins – especially on defense – picked a bad time to start skating backwards. And as a result – four unanswered Canadiens goals in the third – the Bruins had endured their 10th straight home loss.

“We know we have to be better, especially at home, especially at this time of year going into the end of the season and pushing to play in the playoffs. We know we need to be better. We have to take advantage of being at home, for sure,” Chara said.

Counting Thursday’s home match against Toronto before a seven-game road trip, the Bruins have just nine home games remaining.

“Those games we have left, we have to find a way. We have to make sure we win most of them,” Chara added.

Read More: Bruins, Canadiens, NHL, Zdeno Chara
First period summary: Bruins-Canadiens at 7:43 pm ET
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The first period of the first game back from the Olympic break for the Bruins featured solid goaltending, high energy skating and low-and-behold hard work in front of the net that paid off in a goal and a 1-0 Bruins lead after one.

With Montreal center Dominic Moore in the box for interference, Zdeno Chara let fly a shot from the high slot that caught Habs goalie Carey Price in the midsection. Price couldn’t control the rebound and Sturm fell over Price and one-handed the puck into the net behind Price.

Sturm leads the Bruins with 19 goals.

Tuukka Rask started in net and stopped all 10 Montreal shots on net, including a nice glove save on Roman Hamrlik midway through.

The Bruins had only seven shots on goal and ended the period on the penalty kill. Montreal will begin the second period with a 69-second power play after a slash on Vladimir Sobotka.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Canadiens, Marco Sturm, NHL
Bruins breakdown: The top pair 02.25.10 at 2:00 pm ET
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The breakdown at the break continues and this time we are moving onto the men commissioned with keeping pucks away from the crease. Since Claude Julien took over behind the bench for Boston defense has been the name of the game in The Hub. Considering the Bruins scoring woes this year the only thing that has kept them in contention has been their ability to limit opponents chances.

Boston is fourth in the league in goals against with 2.42 and one of the reasons behind this is that its captain, Zdeno Chara, happens to be the reigning Norris Trophy winner. If a high tide raises all ships then a towering defenseman buoys all blue liners. We will also take a look at his partner, Derek Morris.

Note – Slight change in schedule. Will be doing the top defensive pairing Thursday then the other two pairings on Friday.

Chara — The questions about Chara are two-fold. One, how is he so good? Two, how do you quantify how good he actually is?

The first question has an easy answer — at 6-foot 9-inches and 255 pounds he is physically dominant on the ice. He skates well, has a long stick that he employs judiciously and, for the most part, has good positioning. Watch Chara play and it is easy to see why he is one of the best. Quantifying his play with advanced statistics is a little harder.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Derek Morris, Zdeno Chara,
Update: Bruins in the Olympics 02.18.10 at 3:47 pm ET
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Six Bruins are playing in the Olympics in Vancouver. The first round of preliminary games has been played, let’s take a look how the boys from the black and gold have faired.

Canada

Patrice Bergeron — The Bruins center had 12:50 of ice time in Canada’s 8-0 win against Norway on Tuesday. Bergeron had an assist on Mike Richard’s goal that made it 3-0 in the second period. Bergeron had a plus/minus of 1 and two penalty minutes with an interference call in the second period.

Germany

Marco Sturm — The German captain had 15:14 of ice time and two shots on goal in Sweden’s 2-0 win on Wednesday.

Slovakia

Zdeno Chara — The Slovakian captain had four penalty minutes and a shot on goal in 26:28 of ice time in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic.

Miroslav Satan — The Bruins front line forward was a scratch against the Czech’s. Satan sustained a laceration to his hand against Tampa Bay last Thursday before the break.

Czech Republic

David Krejci — The Bruins second line center had a shot of goal in 14:20 of ice time against the Czech’s.

United States

Tim Thomas — Dressed as Ryan Miller’s backup against Switzerland on Tuesday and Norway on Thursday.

Read More: David Krejci, Marco Sturm, Miroslav Satan, Patrice Bergeron
Olympic hockey: Group B breakdown 02.16.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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Continuing to break down the Olympic hockey rosters, Group B looks like the deepest of the three groups. Russia is the standout favorite while the Czech Republic and Slovakia field strong teams. The joke about the group is that if the Czechs and Slovaks were still one country (Czechoslovakia) then it would be a powerhouse. Of course, that is not the case. Latvia will will attempt to fight for respectability.

Note: After the preliminary round, each of the 12 teams will be ranked on the basis of points. The top four teams advance to the quarterfinals, with the remaining teams playing to advance.

Schedule (All times ET)

Feb. 16 ‘€” Russia vs. Latvia, midnight

Feb. 17 ‘€” Czech Republic vs. Slovakia, midnight

Feb. 18 ‘€” Russia vs. Slovakia, midnight

Feb. 19 ‘€” Czech Republic vs. Latvia, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 20 ‘€” Latvia vs. Slovakia, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 21 ‘€” Russia vs. Czech Republic, 3 p.m.

Russia

Captain ‘€” Aleksey Marozov

Assistants ‘€” Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk

Goaltenders ‘€” Evgeni Nobokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, Semyom Varlamov

Players to Watch ‘€” Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov

Breakdown ‘€” Malkin, Ovechkin and Datsyuk all were finalists for the NHL’s Hart Trophy last year as the league MVP. That is about as impressive of a trio as it gets in Vancouver. The Russians have scoring power to spare but could use a top-flight goaltender to cover the back end. Nobokov is a good, serviceable NHL goaltender but he is never going to be confused with Patrick Roy. The matchup nightmare comes as the Russians roll out line after line of great goal-scorers (Kovalchuk, Ovechkin) mixed with good set-up men (Malkin). Expect the Russians to have a say in the medal rounds.

Czech Republic

Captain ‘€” Patrick Elias

Assistants ‘€” Tomas Kaberle, Jaromir Jagr

Goaltenders ‘€” Tomas Vokoun, Jakub Stepanek, Ondrej Pavelec

Players to Watch ‘€” Jagr, Vokoun, Milan Michalek

Bruins on the roster ‘€” David Krejci

Breakdown ‘€” The Greatest Show on Ice returns to North America. That, of course, means Jagr. Now plying his wares in the KHL, Jagr is one of the top five greatest players of the last 20 years and can still skate well. It will be interesting to watch him take on NHL talent again, and Group B is full of it. Krejci is an interesting member of this team and likely will serve as a second- or third-line center to try to set up Michalek and company. For the Czechs to be there in the end, it will come down to Vokoun. The backstop has played well for a bad Florida Panthers team this year and probably will appreciate having some talent in front of him for once.

Slovakia

Captain ‘€” Zdeno Chara

Assistants ‘€” Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra

Goaltenders ‘€” Jaroslav Halak, Peter Budaj, Rastislav Stana

Players to Watch ‘€” Chara, Halak, Marian Hossa, Miroslav Satan

Bruins on roster ‘€” Chara, Satan

Breakdown ‘€” The strength will be in the defense, with Chara leading the way in front of Halak or Budaj. Milan Jurcina and Andrej Sekera give the Slovakians decent depth on the blue line. The Czechs probably are a little bit deeper overall, but this is a second-tier team that could turn some heads if Hossa gets hot and one of the goaltenders can sustain a roll. Satan will play a part, but do not expect him to carry the team.

Latvia

Captain ‘€” Karlis Skrastins

Assistants ‘€” Herberts Vasiljevs, Aleksandrs Nizivijs

Goaltenders ‘€” Ervins Mustukovs, Sergejs Naumovs, Edgars Masalskis

Players to Watch ‘€” Skrastins, Oskars Bartulis, Martins Karsums

(Former) Bruins on the roster ‘€” Karsums

Breakdown ‘€” Latvia is better known as Dinamo Riga of the KHL. Fifteen players from Dinamo Riga are on the Latvian roster, including Karsums, who was assigned to HC MVD of the KHL from the Tampa Bay Lightning AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals but did not join the team and instead went to Dinamo. Bartulis and Skrastins are both defensemen and the only Latvian players currently on NHL rosters (Flyers and Stars, respectively). Latvia has never finished higher than ninth in any international competition and should get handled easily by the other three teams in the group.

Read More: Czech Republic, David Krejci, Latvia, Martins Karsums
Bruins up three after two 02.11.10 at 9:22 pm ET
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Most everything is going right for the Bruins.

Boston made it 5-0 at 4:53 in the second when Zdeno Chara whipped a turn-and-blast shot from the high slot that was tipped by Daniel Paille and Milan Lucic on its way passed Mike Smith. Lucic got the credit for the goal, his second of the game and fifth on the year. The two-goal game is the fourth of his career. Smith replaced Antero Niittymaki to start the period after the top line goaltender let in four goals on 17 shots in the first period.

Chara would get a little nasty with Steve Downie later in the period when Downie tried to get in the captain’s face. Downie had been an instigator in the first period when he got a roughing major for trying to pick a fight with Miroslav Satan (the penalty would lead to Boston’s fourth goal). When Downie tried the same thing with Satan’s country mate (both hail from Slovakia) Chara let him know that he will not tolerate people messing with his teammates. Satan did not return to the ice for the second period.

Things started to unravel a little bit late in the period. Martin St. Louis got the Lightning on the board at 16:10 when he beat Tuukka Rask to break up the shutout on the power play. In the last minute of  Bruins took a couple of penalties (Michael Ryder and David Krejci) along with one from the Lightning (Todd Fedoruk) to set up a 4-0n-3 that Tampa took advantage of with another goal from St. Louis at the 19:03 mark.

End of second period. 5-2 Bruins.

Shots through second (total):

Boston — 5 (26)

Tampa Bay — 9 (22)

Read More: Martin St. Louis, Mike Smith, Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning
Sabres claw back to tie it in second 02.09.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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It was a wild first five minutes of the second period in Buffalo. The Sabres came out with more aggression than they showed in the first which was immediately evident when their captain, Craig Rivet, decided it was time to throw down with Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton at 2:54. The fight started at the same time that a penalty whistle was blown to send Bruins forward Milan Lucic to the box for a hooking call. The Sabres were then given a golden chance to get back into the game when Steve Begin took a holding penalty 54-seconds later to give Buffalo 1:08 of 5-on-3 hockey at 3:46.

The Sabres would not need all of it to get on the board. At 4:35 Buffalo center Derek Roy found himself in the middle slot facing down Tuukka Rask with time and space. Roy let go a wily wrist shot that beat Rask glove side to cut the Bruins lead to 2-1.

Boston got its first chance on the power play when Paul Gaustad tried to throw down with Zdeno Chara at 9:52. The towering Bruins captain cannot fight though because he tore most of the ligaments in his pinky the first time the Bruins played in Buffalo on Nov. 20. The finger looks pretty ugly as it is bent at a 90-degree angle and Chara has to wear a split on it during practice and games. Per NHL rules, a player cannot fight with any outside material on his hands, hence Chara cannot fight for fear of a suspension or injuring the finger more seriously than it already is. Gaustad went to the box for a two-minute unsportsmanlike yet the Bruins could not break down Ryan Miller’s door.

With the Sabres putting steady pressure on the Bruins through the period, Boston’s best chance came near the 18:30 mark when the puck got loose in the crease in front of Ryan Miller. Boston forward Mark Recchi dove for it but it was cleared and skipped through the neutral zone off the center wall to defenseman Tyler Myers. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid missed on the loose puck and  Myers picked it up and let go of a sneaky wrist shot that surprised Rask on his glove side the Buffalo tied the game at two at 18:35.

Shots through second period (total):

Bruins — 11 (22).

Sabres — 14 (31).

Read More: Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Ryan Miller, Tuukka Rask
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