|Ward on D&H: ‘Boston’s on the upswing’||05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET|
Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”
Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”
Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”
|Inside the Bruins locker room||05.11.10 at 1:44 am ET|
Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi, Tuukka Rask, Marc Savard and Milan Lucic react to a disappointing 4-0 loss to the Flyers at TD Garden in Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bruins now lead the series 3-2.
|Flyers looking for good ole home cooking||05.05.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Centermen think they are so clever.
Faceoffs. Simple science or mischievous underworld of cheats and chicanery? A sub-theme to the Bruins and Flyers series that developed during Game 2 and is carrying into Game 3 in Philadelphia on Wednesday has been the Boston’s dominance on the dot. Flyers captain Mike Richards did not fare well on Monday against Patrice Bergeron in the circle and he is hoping that being home in the Wachovia Center will help take away the Bruins advantage.
“They are good faceoff guys and they used the home ice to their advantage,” Richards said. “He [Bergeron], is strong, I think he has a enough respect where he is allowed to cheat a little bit more. I am not sure what else but faceoffs are all about who can cheat the most and in the long run it is a lot easier taking face offs at home than it is on the road.”
Boston centerman David Krejci said after Game 2 that “every center has his tricks” and then refused to elaborate on exactly what tricks he has up his sleeve. It is like every center in the NHL is part of a little fraternity and each unit has their own secret handshake when it comes to gaining the advantage on the dot.
“Every one cheats on faceoffs, it is just about who does it the best,” Richards said. “Home ice I think it is a lot easier to take faceoffs than it is on the road and obviously is better to play with the puck so we will use that to our advantage tonight.”
What Bergeron does so well in the circle is get his shoulder down, quick stick and box out. Some guys do not come to a full stop when skating in for the drop, giving them more momentum in getting that shoulder down and the other center off the puck.
“I do it too. I do it all the time, everybody does,” Richards said. “Just look for the edge to win the faceoffs and I think the refs have been doing a great job of letting us pause a little bit.”
Richards mentioned multiple times that “it is easier to win faceoffs on home ice.” What he is basically saying is that is when teams have the last change they can craft their matchups to their benefit. For instance, Richards never touched the ice in the first two games without Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on his back. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would double shift Richards and Chara would double shift as well. Laviolette has been scrounging around for trios and pairs that can break down the Bruins.
“I don’t think there was as much line juggling as you guys would call it,” Laviolette said. “It is more of trying to get somebody away from somebody cause we can get different matchups. It will be easier at home where we can start where we want and play from there. We are double shifting some guys in the lineup so that is a cause (of the line juggling) as well. Just with opportunities when we have been behind, we need to get guys out on the ice so we have some guys who we will shift them a little bit more with the guys out of the lineup.”
Laviolette is, of course, referring to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne as the guys out of the lineup. Richards was Laviolette’s primary center during the regular season and took 1373 faceoffs at 50.7 percent success rate. Carter was the next guy on the list with 1314 at 52. 4 percent and both were about 500 ahead of the next guy on the team, Blair Betts at 855.
“We have to do a better job of doing being ready on the face offs,” Laviolette said. “I thought there were some faceoffs that we won and they picked it up and therefore it looked like their win. We have to be ready as a group. The centermen have to do a good job but our wingers have to do a good job as well.”
Can the Flyers change their fortunes around in this series with the simple advantages that come with being on home ice? Creating matchups for the purpose of forechecking and winning face offs is definitely an important part of the game but, as Laviolette points out, the Flyers still have to execute.
|Bruins bracing themselves||05.04.10 at 2:40 pm ET|
Not everyone in black and gold had bad things to say about the physical play of the Flyers on Monday night in Boston’s 3-2 win.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk – who put the Bruins on top with a first-period goal – was drilled on a clean, hard hit by Philly’s Scott Hartnell midway through the ‘eventful’ second period, just seconds after Boston captain Zdeno Chara took a run at Hartnell behind the Flyers net.
The result was Boychuk going airborne and landing hard on the ice. Boychuk wasn’t hurt except for his ego momentarily and acknowledged that he expects to see more of that kind of play when the series shifts to Philadelphia Wednesday night for Game 3.
“It wasn’t too wide-open There were some timely goals each team scored and some good hits, like the one on me. It was a great hit.”
Boychuk also believes the Bruins can learn something from Game 5 in Buffalo when they were playing a desperate Sabres team looking to stay alive. They were blown out, 4-1, and had to come back to Boston to seal the deal.
“We were in Buffalo and they took it to us,” Boychuk said. “We’re going to have to learn from that. Hopefully, we can overcome their intensity when we go to Philly.”
There will be some 20,000 fans not cheering on the Bruins on Wednesday and Boychuk and the Bruins are more than bracing themselves for what to expect.
“It’s a good barn play in and it’s tough barn to play in,” Boychuk said. “They’re going to come out hard and we have to match their intensity.”
Chara agreed with Boychuk’s assessment and won’t be shocked when the black and orange sweaters are out in force at the Wachovia Center.
“The further you go, it’s going to get tougher and tougher and the games are going to be harder and harder,” Chara said. “It’s just normal. That’s just the playoffs. It’s Philly and they like to play that kind of style and obviously, we like to play physical. It’s just two teams meeting each other with similar physical styles of play.”
|Chara on D&H: Savard’s return ‘a big boost’||04.29.10 at 12:20 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. Chara said he watched Wednesday night’s Montreal-Washington Game 7, in which the eighth-seeded Canadiens upset the top-seeded Capitals 2-1 to win their first-round series behind a solid performance from Chara’s Slovakian Olympic teammate, goalie Jaroslav Halak. “It was a crazy game,” Chara said. “I obviously was a little surprised by how well defensively Montreal played. I knew Halak would have an outstanding game, but I never thought that [Washington] would have such a tough game to really put the puck in the net.”
Looking back at the Bruins’ first-round series win over the Sabres, Chara said: “I think the special teams were really big and obviously Tuukka [Rask] played really big for us. When you really look at it, every game somebody really made a difference, somebody stepped up.”
Added Chara about Rask: “We have confidence in both of our goalies, and obviously Tuukka is playing extremely well since the second half of the season. For such a young goalie, he’s playing with a lot of passion, and he’s got a lot of patience in his game, too, and he’s just making the right saves at the right time.”
Chara was asked about the Bruins’ response to the Penguins after Marc Savard was injured by a check from Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke. “We all felt that we would like to have had a better response in that game. There’s no question about that,” Chara said. “When you really look at it, to see one of your best playmakers go down, you want to respond, you want to react, but that the same time, it was a one-goal game. Those two points could have made a huge difference in the end, which we know that it was so close that they probably would have made a big difference.” Added Chara: “When they came in our building I think we responded well. We took care of business.”
As for Savard’s return to the team, Chara indicated he’s excited to see what the center can do. “To have him healthy now and ready for the second round is a big boost,” Chara said. “We all know what he can bring to the game. He’s an extremely good puck-handler. He can make plays that only a few guys in the league can make, and passes he can make. To have him with that skill, adding to our lineup right now, is big.”
To hear the interview, check the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
|Captain Z: We can’t lose focus like last year||04.27.10 at 1:00 am ET|
What a difference a year makes for Zdeno Chara following an opening-round win.
Last year, the Bruins dispatched of the Montreal Canadiens in four games, and then waited nine days for their second-round series to begin when Carolina came from behind to beat New Jersey in the closing five minutes of Game 7.
While the Bruins were long on rest, they were short on sharpness and, in the end, it cost them dearly as they dropped Game 2 at home and fell behind 3 games to 1 before rallying to force Game 7. They fell in heart-breaking fashion when Scott Walker scored the OT game-winner to end the Bruins season.
“We can’t lose the focus like maybe we did last year a little bit during that week off,” Chara said in the wake of Monday’s series-clinching win over Buffalo. “We have to stay on top of things and really get ready for our next opponent, which we don’t know who that’s going to be.”
The reason the Bruins don’t know who’s next is because Montreal has decided to learn from 2009 as well. They have not rolled over for Washington. Instead, following a 4-1 win over the Capitals on Monday, there will be a seventh game in America’s capital on Wednesday night.
If the Capitals survive, the Bruins open the second round in Pittsburgh against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. If the Canadiens pull off the shocker, the Bruins actually host Games 1 and 2 against Philadelphia beginning this weekend.
Chara said the team has earned one good day of rest but that’s all they need right now.
“Just maybe relax on [Tuesday], enjoy the day off, and then get back at it on Wednesday,” he said.
“Obviously it’s always a nice feeling, to be going to the second round. Buffalo was extremely playing well. They battled hard and it was a tough series.”
Another source of pride for Chara was the performance of the specialty teams. The Bruins killed off all 19 Buffalo power plays in the series while Boston scored five power play goals.
“I really thought that our specialty teams played extremely well,” Chara said. “We battled pretty much hard every game. We were almost into every game, besides Game 5.
“We take a lot of pride in our PK. We try to, you know, we’re obviously aggressive, but at the same time well-positioned and like I said, the people we have on the ice, those are the workers and we try to always outwork the opposite power play.”
|No suspension for Chara||04.24.10 at 2:01 pm ET|
The Bruins were never concerned that they would be without their big man for Game 6 on Monday. In their eyes the real instigator in the mini-brawl as time expired on Game 5 was Paul Gaustad and his slashing stick that set captain Zdeno Chara off and he began punching Gaustad and any other Sabre in the immediate vicinity.
That was just about every other Sabre on the ice. Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick entered the fray and the three of them toppled Chara like and Oregonian red wood. Even Ryan Miller got into the act as the pile on Chara thickened with both Sabres and Bruins as the goaltender came in and tried to pull Miroslav Satan out of it only to get tangled in it himself.
“To me I wasn’t even worried because I could not see it [a suspension] happening,” coach Claude Julien said. “It did not take long for them to rescind that stuff and it just didn’t make any sense, you know, a guy gets slashed behind the leg with a two-hander and he just turns around and takes a pop and three guys jump him. Where does all this stuff come from? I don’t know. It is just common sense and I just felt he didn’t deserve it.”
The Bruins players made available to the media Saturday morning at TD Garden were instantly dismissive of the notion that Chara would ultimately receive the instigator-within-five-minutes-of-the-end-of-a-game suspension. Andrew Ference did not even think it was a real fight even though Chara took a five-minute fighting major though Gaustad did not.
“That wasn’t even a fight, an instigator is when there is a fight and that wasn’t a fight,” Ference said. “The guy clearly slashed in in the ankle on the ice, if you really want to talk instigator so, but there was no fight so it was not an issue.”
Did Gaustad think he could have gotten away with the slash because the clock was expiring? Maybe he was thinking it would be a tit-for-tat move after Johnny Boychuk took out the Sabres best player, Thomas Vanek, with a slash in Game 2. The difference in the situations of the hits is clear. Boychuk was defending a partial breakaway in a one goal game. Chara was skating towards the bench areas after the Sabres had cleared the puck out of their zone with second remaining in a game that his team had already won.
“We stand up for ourselves too. It is about doing it at the right time. Sometimes a guy takes a cheap shot at you at the time of the game it gives you a power play and you say well ‘OK, I know who it is and it is a long game.’ But the game is over there. Obviously it was a cheap shot and it was unwarranted, the two-hander and he responded so I don’t think there is any damage there this time except listen, we will turn the cheek when it is time to and there’s times when you have to stand up for yourselves and he stood up for himself,” Julien said.