Notes: Bruins' power play clicks with Chara back

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Notes: Bruins' power play clicks with Chara back

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Zdeno Chara wasnt himself against the Montreal Canadiens, but it really wasnt his fault. The Bruins' captain lost 10 pounds in a 24-hour span while battling a virus that caused severe dehydration. He spent most of the seven-game series against the Habs regaining his energy and simply catching his breath.

One thing that had been missing all that time against the Canadiens: his blistering slap shot (clocked at 105.9 mph) that sparks the Boston power play. Chara finished the season tied with Michael Ryder for the most power-play goals on the Bruins with eight, but it looked like the 6-foot-9 defenseman simply didnt have enough juice and energy to shoot.

Its no coincidence that the Boston power play went through an 0-for-30 stretch to start the postseason when Chara wasnt at his full power capacity.

But Charas lethal one-timer finally reappeared in Game 3, and he scored on a pair of bombs to help his team earn a 5-1 victory.

Those guys have been so strong for us, not only as a pair, but also as individuals. As you saw, Zdeno's shot is one that certainly goaltenders dont like to see, said coach Claude Julien. Hes got that ability and tonight I thought he used it well.

The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play until both Mike Richards and Braydon Coburn got sent to the penalty box in the closing moments of the game, and that allowed Boston to finally do some damage 5-on-3.

This was definitely an opportunity for us to at least get one power-play goal and our guys did that, said Julien. I thought that was important for our team at that time to get that confidence.

I thought our power play was actually very good tonight. We hit a post, we had some good scoring chances, and as far as I was concerned, if we work our power play the way we worked it tonight, were going to be okay.

During one of the previous power plays, both Rich Peverley and Patrice Bergeron hit posts.

The Bruins PP unit was far, far better than it had been through the entire postseason. And it makes sense, since Chara is back to being the defenseman the Bruins have always needed him to be.

It is great to see him get that offense going. He has that potential. Hes got an amazing shot, said David Krejci. Ask the opposing goalies that are facing it. It is no fun to see that guy winding up on you. He gets himself in the right spots and getting those goals. It makes it easier on the whole team.It was a big second period goal that extended Boston's lead , but it was also a significant postseason play for both Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell when the duo broke out with a nice first pass from Johnny Boychuk. Campbell managed to set a perfect pass for the speedy Paille rushing into the offensive zone, and Paille fired a bullet over the shoulder of Brian Boucher that the Philly goaltender didn't have a prayer of stopping. That it came with the Mike Richards' line on the ice for the Flyers and pushed Boston's lead to 3-0 was sweet enough, but it was also the first career playoff goal for Paille along with Campbell's first career playoff point on the assist.Bruins head coach Claude Julien is sometimes roundly criticized for going with the fourth line too often, but they came up large for him in Game Three after some really dicey moments in overtime during Game Two in Philadelphia. "Piesy Daniel Paille did a great job getting up the ice. Hes got pretty good speed and it was a good shot by him. But yeah Im just trying to get to the net, and hopefully thatll open up a play for Campbellto shoot or give it to me or do what he did," said fellow fourth-liner Shawn Thornton, who drove the net to clear out space for his linemates. "It worked out. So it was a great pass by Soupy but even a better shot by Piesy."The Bruins crushed the Flyers in just about every category imaginable, and that included the face-off circle throughout the night of Game Three. Between Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Boston's top two centers won 25 out of 27 draws on the TD Garden ice, and fellow pivot Gregory Campbell also won 11 out of 12 face-offs in an embarassing performance for the men down Philly's middle. "No doubt faceoffs are important and we obviously had the advantage of putting our sticks down last, thats the home-ice advantage that becomes very important when it comes to that part of the game. Our guys did a great job. You start with the puck, its a lot easier than chasing it down," said ClaudeJulien. "Our guys did a great job of that tonight and I thought it was important, especially against that team. Theyve got some good faceoff plays in the offensive zone and they can become very dangerous. Our centermen did a great job and even the other guys, recovering those loose pucks in the battles."Tim Thomas had a string of 68 consecutive saves running between Games Two and Three snapped when he surrendered a goal to Andrej Meszaros in the third period. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that Yury Alexandrov, Zach Hamill, Michael Hutchinson and Kirk MacDonald will no longer train in Providence and will return to their respective hometowns for the summer.

The Bruins signed defenseman Ryan Button, who played a handful of games for the Providence Bruins at the end of the AHL season, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday.

The Bruins scored the first two goals of Game 3 just 33 seconds apart in the first period. The club record for the fastest two goals in Bruins playoff franchise history is seven seconds (Cam Neely and Michael Thelven in the second period against Montreal on April 23, 1989).

The two goals allowed in the first 63 seconds of the game were the fastest two goals allowed at the start of a playoff game in Flyers history.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

BRIGHTON, Mass -- The Bruins lost Matt Beleskey for six weeks to a knee injury this week, and now they’re hoping to get another winger back now that 22-year-old Frank Vatrano has rejoined the Bruins at practice.

Vatrano was wearing a red no-contact jersey at Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but his presence along with the other players at the team skate means that he’s moving closer toward a return to the B’s lineup. While initial timetables for his recovery from foot surgery had him in the early January range for returning to the Bruins lineup, it appears that he might be at least a couple of weeks ahead of that initial expectation.

Either way Vatrano is happy to be back on the ice with his teammates after the torn ligaments in his foot wiped out his training camp and the first two plus months of the regular season for him.

“It was a big step for me today. It was nice to be out there with the guys for the first time,” said Vatrano, who scored a combined 44 goals last season for Providence and Boston in a breakout season with the B’s organization. “I’ve gone through the rehab and done everything I need to do to get back playing, so now the next step is getting back on the ice with the guys. I felt great, so now it’s just waiting to hear the news when I start playing again.”

While Vatrano is still a young, relatively inexperienced player with just one full year of pro hockey under his belt, the sense from the Bruins is that he’s going to help a team that’s currently ranked 25th in the NHL in offense. Claude Julien was encouraged by seeing him out there in the red, no-contact jersey that his teammates were chirping him about, and said that his level play at last spring’s world championships should give him confidence when he jumps back into a big role with the Black and Gold.

“It’s a step in the right direction for Frank. That’s the best way for him to get to the pace of our game because it’s going to take a while when you’ve been out that long,” said Vatrano. “I think his experience at world championships last year is a real blessing in disguise because he gained a lot of confidence there. I think that’s going to help him a lot more than had he not gone.

“He played against a lot of elite players last year, and he fared really well. I think he’ll be coming in now with some confidence, and we just have to sure coming in that we give him every opportunity to succeed by using him properly, and giving him a chance to find his game.”

That certainly sounds like the Bruins are preparing for a top-6 role and maybe some power play time once the young, sharp-shooting Vatrano is back up to full speed. That should be fun to watch once he’s ready to play, and ready to again unleash that shot and release that rivals anybody else for tops on the Bruins roster. 

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place.