Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game

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Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game

KANATA, Ont. Zdeno Chara said he didnt have to say a thing to anyone on his team in the third period before they turned on the after-burners and scored six goals en route to the 12-9 victory over Team Alfredsson at the NHL All-Star Game Sunday at Scotiabank Place.
Well, maybe the Bs captain was stretching the truth just a little bit.
Just ask Jarome Iginla about Charas intensity when the exhibition game was still in question during the third period. Thats when the 6-foot-9 defenseman turned more winning machine than man, and perhaps thats a little something Iginla hasnt had enough of in Calgary lately.
I gave that one away near the end and Chara asked me if I was playing on their team for that one shift, said Iginla with a smile on his face. Once you get out there, you dont really like to be scored on.
Chara wanted to win. Hes competitive. He thought I gave that pass up on purpose instead of sending our guys 2-on-1 . . . I gave them a 3-on-2 at our blue line. I assured him it wasnt on purpose.
Once Chara had that assurance, the rest was up to him to finish off the perfect All-Star weekend in an NHL setting where he had four wonderful seasons at the beginning of his NHL career. Chara popped the game-winning goal in the third period from the right faceoff circle after stepping into the play, and made it a storybook weekend all-around. Everything on Sunday was supported by Charas 108.8-mph slapshot that electrified the Skills Competition crowd, and left him with a smile on his face knowing an All-Star weekend cant be much better for him.
That was my first shot, I think, of the game, said Chara. Its nice to score in the All-Star game. I was surprised I was open and put it in the net. I was more focused on staying back and not being something Im not. I enjoyed myself. The city of Ottawa and the organization did a really great job.
We had great teams, lots of fun with the draft and with the guys inside the locker room. You cant ask for anything better, right? Its a break so we treated it that way. We wanted to enjoy ourselves and have fun . . . most of all, we wanted to put on a good show. We wanted to play and show the skills when theres a time to show them, and when theres a time to relax and take a break then do that.
Bruins coach Claude Julien watched up close and personal as Chara assisted in directing the entire weekend of All-Star events, and showed the kind of intelligence, strength and surprising charm that everyone in Boston already know the Bs captain possesses. Hes become one of the NHLs most recognizable stars in terms of stature and presence, and All-Star weekend simply helped hammer that point home.
Youre always proud of your guys. Zee was a great ambassador just like the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson was, said Julien. For both teams I dont think you could have picked better individuals for people that could have been ambassadors. They took their jobs seriously and really did their homework well.
Chara and Alfredsson are both modest. They have the kind of athletic ability where they could make more of it, but they always put others in front of them. Even when he was picking other guys for competitions he would always put himself last after the others. Thats what makes Zee pretty special. Hes a great guy team and a guy that really cares. Not just as a person, but even as a player. With a guy thats strong like that and big like that, if he didnt respect the players he played against there would be a lot of injuries. Hes tapered his game to the point where hes still effective, but hes not dangerous.
The All-Star weekend was supposed to all about Alfredsson, and the classy Senators captain got his due. But the once-favored son of Ottawa that eventually defected to Boston certainly made the weekend his as well.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.