Notes: Bruins' power play clicks with Chara back

191545.jpg

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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold.