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.

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

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Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.