Morning Skate 423: Cherry thinks Chara's gone soft

Morning Skate 423: Cherry thinks Chara's gone soft

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comBOSTON Don Cherry always has something to say when you find yourself in his corner.
Sometimes you dont like it, sometimes hes wildly inaccurate and sometimes he is as they always said in My Cousin Vinny dead on-balls accurate with his sharp-tongued hockey observations.Cherry spoke during the intermission between the first and second periods of Game Four at the Bell Centre, and hes got some issues with the way Zdeno Chara is competing in the playoff series against the Habs. There have been some whispers that Chara has experienced difficulty dealing with the trauma players like Max Pacioretty and Ryan Callahan getting injured on hockey plays initiated by the Bs Captain, and that its sapped some of the bite out of Charas intimidation game.
The greater likelihood is Chara is far less than 100 percent while still battling the illness that had him severely dehydrated and out for Game Two.There was little doubt Chara was fairly emotional about the Callahans broken leg after taking a Chara slapper directly off an unprotected area of his body, and was wondering to himself whether he should have eased off his 105.9-mph howitzer to spare Callahan potential injury.That kind of thing even if its subconscious can take something from Charas game thats so dependent on competing hard and exuding an air of intimidation, and there does appear to be an inability -- or unwillingness -- to really get physical with the smaller, faster Habs players. Could it be to stay out of the penalty box?Could it be that Chara is still feeling weakened from whatever illness that caused him to miss Game Two? Could it be that Chara is trying to avoid injuring other players by virtue of simply being a 6-foot-9 inch tower of power simply playing good, hard, clean hockey?Only Chara knows for sure, but Cherry seems to think its a mentality that the Bs defensive stopper has relinquished since riding Pacioretty into the stanchion and causing several serious injuries from the hockey play.Ive got to say something. Bruins have to get Chara back to where everybody is afraid of him. Nobody is afraid of him anymore. I know hes been sick and stuff and everything like this, but hes been playing like this ever since the Pacioretty thing, said Cherry during his Coachs Corner segment on CBCs Hockey Night in Canada. He has to play like Pronger. Pronger is a force out there. He doesnt want to get a penalty. Anybody that gets near him, hes so afraid. Hes got to have guys afraid of him. A little push here. A little hit in the corner there. If youre going to go out, then youve got to go out on your shield and get them afraid of you.Is Cherry calling it like it is, or conjuring something out of thin air once again? Thats everyone to decide.On to the links:Dandy Don Cherry opines about Zdeno Charas soft playing during his Thursday night Coachs Corner on Hockey Night in Canada among other topics.Donald Brashear is going to pursue a career as an MMA fighter now that his NHL career is in the rear view mirror. Interesting move, but not sure its going to work out for him.In the something a little different department: A Baltimore Sun piece about Luther Anderson, a Maryland resident that plays the organ at the Verizon Center for the Washington Capitals.The Buffalo Sabres are waiting for some more production out of forward Brad Boyes after acquiring him down the stretch. Marc-Edouard Vlasic isnt battling through an injury, but instead coping with the death of a grandfather during the Stanley Cup playoffs in a San Jose Mercury News piece.Sidney Crosby has become Sid the Coach while sitting on the sidelines for the Pittsburgh Penguins in his comeback from a concussion. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jesse Connolly of the New England Hockey Journalcomes up with the top 10 excuses for Andrew Ference throwing his unintentional bird at the Bell Centre crowd in Montreal during Game Four.Rob Simpson talks about the tale of two goaltenders going on in New York for MSG.com during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

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Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

MORE - Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto. 

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.