Chara, Chiarelli don't see speed as issue for B's

Chara, Chiarelli don't see speed as issue for B's
April 28, 2014, 2:15 pm
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BOSTON – The Bruins have been hearing all season that they’re not fast enough to deal with the speedy, skilled teams in the league, and that their average skating abilities would hurt them in the playoffs. Claude Julien openly bristled at assertions that the Bruins were any slower skating-wise than the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, and the Bruins proved it by bottling up the Wings to just six goals in the five game series.

Now the Bruins move on to a deeper, speedier and more talented group in the Montreal Canadiens for the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and those same stereotypes of the big, slow, lumbering Bruins exist.

It’s something 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara probably gets more than anybody else given his size, strength and ferocity, but it’s not something the B’s captain believes in when he watches his team play. But most NHL observers look at big bodies like Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk, Jarome Iginla, Carl Soderberg and Shawn Thornton, and don’t exactly scream out speed burner.

“We can’t really control what’s being said about us, or maybe other teams,” said Chara. “It’s more how we’re going to play, and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we’re a slow team. Obviously, we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way that we’re built, and excel in areas that we’re good at.

“But I don’t think we’re necessarily a slow team. I think we’re able to skate and make transitions as well as any other team. I’m not tired of it. I know we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”

Count Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli as another who doesn't buy into the notion that the B's aren't fast enough.

"It’s too stereotype, and we’ve improved our speed," Chiarelli said. "I just hear about it all year, too, so I get a little — and obviously Claude [Julien] and I talk -- we get tired of it. But we have speed and we have heaviness, and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’s come from. I understand when you bring it up in the context of the [Red] Wings, and now the Canadiens because they are [fast]."

Let’s face it: a slow, deliberate hockey club would never win the President’s Trophy during an 82-game regular season, and their young, sleek defenseman have certainly sped up the transition game for the Black and Gold. But the Bruins did lose two of their fastest skaters among the forward group when Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin were dealt to Dallas last summer, and replaced with more average speed guys in Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith.

But Chiarelli doesn't think speed is the reason either team will win or lose.

"They’re both fast teams," Chiarelli said. "It’s about closing gaps more quickly, it’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys, it’s about our special teams — both PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success."

But whatever you do, don’t call the Bruins a slower skating team in their series against the Montreal Canadiens. That will make the B’s angry, and you wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.