Morning Skate 525: Chara finds power in front

Morning Skate 525: Chara finds power in front

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comTAMPA The Bruins have been in a power play funk for the entire postseason, and it hasnt been any better since the Bs took the ice against Tampa Bay Lightning while mired in a 2-for-19 funk against the Bolts.The Bruins penalty kill has bailed them out in the series, but its needed to be brilliant in order to offset the PP.The Bruins cant set up, they have no speed through the zones to throw Tampa Bay on their heels and their PP entries are stale, predictable and playing into a forward group not working hard enough for the puck. It makes little sense that puck retrieval is more of an issue during the PP than on 5-on-5 play, but thats exactly whats happening with the Bruins right now.There is no set up for Tomas Kaberle to distribute the puck and not enough chances for Zdeno Chara to wind up and blast away with his 105.9 missile. All of this really comes as an indictment on both the players and coaches designing and executing whats become a special teams debacle. Pretty much everyone inside and outside the organization has had suggestions or bright ideas to great creative with a status quo that clearly isnt working but nothing has worked for PP architect Geoff Ward and the rest of the Bs coaching staff struggling for PP answers.So the Bruins finally deployed their secret weapon and broached their last PP frontier in Mondays Game Four when they plopped Zdeno Chara in front of the net. The 6-foot-9 Captain will usually venture closer to the net during the final 60-90 seconds of a game with the goaltender pulled and the Bruins are trailing and has been used to mix things up on a stale power play from time to time in seasons past.The Bs finally brought out the secret 6-foot-9 weapon on Monday night, and theres a good chance more will be up-coming tonight in an elimination game.Claude Julien said the Bruins would possibly employ that strategy again in Game Six against the Bolts, but there needed to be a better work ethic by the rest of the PP unit to take advantage of it. Forwards need to start hunting pucks and winning one-on-one battles for anything else to matter.I think I liked what he did last game in front of the net, said Julien. But hes only going to be useful in front of the net if we put him there, if we get control of the puck and if we get some shots on net. The first few power plays we didnt really get control of the puck and it didnt mater who was in front at that point. I didnt mind what he did and I think we need to see how this game unfolds. But its certainly a possibility.Chara didnt really camp his big body down low near the net until the conference finals this season, but its been a welcome sight for the Bruins. Mike Smith admitted after Game Four that Chara is a tall drink of water while blocking out vision lines for the goaltender, and it cant ever make life easy for goaltenders of all shapes, sizes and preferences.He is a tall drink of water, said Smith. Obviously he is there for a reason, to try and get in my face and not let me see it. You have to fight and battle to find the pucks.Its pretty simple: you cant stop what you cant see, and theres a lot that goaltenders cant see when Chara puts his mind to screening things. That will be Dwayne Rolosons challenge in Game Six after the Bruins couldnt capitalize on the man advantage Monday night while Chara was blocking out the sun by the goal line.That is provided they can execute just a little better on the man advantage this time around.On to the links:The Senators Extra blog says that the jury is still out on who won the Dany Heatley deal between San Jose and Ottawa. I would have guessed the team that made the playoffs versus the team that didnt but thats just silly old me.A top 10 video list of Tim Thomas saves throughout his career thats required viewing for any Bruins fan.Pierre Lebrun sets the scene in the San Jose losing locker room after the Sharks truly put it all out there in the postseason, but still couldnt find a way into the Stanley Cup Finals.Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov might be packing up and headed back to the KHL according to this Russian report. Warning: Google translator is a must on this one.USA Todays Kevin Allen writes that Lightning ownership has led the way to their franchises return to the respectability and later on to the playoffs.Sporting News scribe and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance gets a hold on the new compensation adjustments for offer sheets submitted toNHL restricted free agents with a quality crop hitting the market this summer.The Globe and Mail has the story of the Vancouver Canucks opening up their arena for Stanley Cup Finals viewing sessions when their team is on the road. Wouldnt it be cool if the TD Garden could do the same?SI.coms Stu Hackel says that Bostons special teams are making the difference against the Lightning, and hes absolutely right. Its just perhaps not the special teams that you thought it might be.A good look at the 1991 Stanley Cup champs in Pittsburgh that marked the end of an era in the NHL and gave Mark Recchi his first taste of championship glory.The Edmonton Journal is weighing its options when it comes to Sheldon Souray and his albatross of a contract that the team is still paying off.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.