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.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.