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.

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.