Notes: Chara responds in big way

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Notes: Chara responds in big way

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON After getting knocked around the ice by Ryan Malone and the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 Saturday at St. Pete Times Forum, Zdeno Chara and defense partner Dennis Seidenberg rebounded strongly with physical, productive play Monday night in the Bruins 3-1 win at TD Garden.

Chara led the Bruins with four shots on net and set the game-winning goal in motion with a confident rush into the offensive zone in the second period that sent the Tampa Bay defense scrambling around him.

The offensive pinch led to Patrice Bergeron cycling in the corner and feeding a perfect pass to Brad Marchand as he cleanly beat Martin St. Louis to the net on a backdoor play. Marchand slammed a shot past Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith with slightly more than four minutes to go in the period.

Chara has clearly been focused on the defensive end of things for much of the first two rounds of the playoffs, but there was an even-handed approach to his game in Game 5 that also resulted in the 6-foot-9 Slovakian defenseman parked in front of the net during several power-play possessions.

It was a big game, said Chara, but he added: "The next game is the most important game.

Theres been plenty of clamoring for Chara a tall drink of water, as Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith called him following Game 5 to shift around and mix it up a little bit in front of the net. Thats what coach Claude Julien finally did while thinking a bit outside the box on the power play.

Weve always had that plan in the back of our minds," said Julien. "And . . . because our power play was not very good in Tampa, we said . . . we were going to have to make some changes. And we had Zdeno . . . go to the front of the net. And I know it kind of takes something out from the back end, but we had players we kind of felt could maybe jump in at that point, and maybe at least get some shots on net.

"I thought Chara did a great job in front, and hes a big presence and hes a hard guy to move. And we had some chances and the power play at least, even if it didnt score . . . gave us at least a little bit of momentum."

Unfortunately the new look didnt yield any actual results. The Bs power play squad went 0-for-4 despite the new looks and wrinkles.

Johnny Boychuk missed the final half of the third period after getting slammed by Steve Downie behind the net, a play that drew a boarding penalty. Julien -- who said Boychuk, who had to be helped off the ice by Andrew Ference and Patrice Bergeron, was "fine" -- wasn't pleased with the hit.

"I havent had an opportunity to look at it, said Julien. I havent watched the video yet. I know some people have, but from what I hear its not a great hit. Ill maybe save my comments more for after I see it."

Julien was mixing and matching lines in the third period, and used Rich Peverley as a little bit of a swingman after shortening his bench in the third period. The Bs coach alternated Peverley and Tyler Seguin on the line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder during the final 20 minutes.

This is a guy who deserves the ice time he got tonight, said Julien. Late in the game on that third line, they were starting to throw Martin St. Louis . . . and starting to throw Vincent Lecavalier. They were trying to take advantage of maybe the lack of experience in Tyler.

So I had to put Peverley out there at that point and make sure we had some experience against some of those guys. This is where Pevs becomes a real useful player. He did a great job on the penalty kill and he jumped in there on the third power play that we had. He was used for faceoffs and was very good . . .

"You cant just put a guy like him, basically, on the fourth line and just give him a few minutes. He served us really well tonight. He played a real solid game.

Peverley finished with 14 minutes of ice time, scored the empty-net goal that made the final 3-1, and won five out of six faceoffs as part of a strong effort by the Bs centers, who dominated the faceoff circle Monday night.

Chris Kelly was wearing the Bruins Chalk Line 1980s jacket following Monday nights Game 5 victory after playing a pivotal role on the penalty kill unit that held the Lightning to an 0-for-4 night. Kelly joked after the game that the biggest reason he was wearing the jacket was because of the team rule that one player couldnt wear the jacket in back-to-back wins a stipulation that eliminated the spectacular Tim Thomas from consideration.

Historically, Game 5 has proved crucial for the Bruins when a best-of-seven series. The Bs are 17-4 when they lead a series 3-2 and 2-16 when they trail a series 3-2. The Lightning, meanwhile, are 2-0 when they lead a series 3-2, and 2-2 when they trail a series 3-2.

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

Source: ‘Fairly certain’ Bruins will part ways with Connolly

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Source: ‘Fairly certain’ Bruins will part ways with Connolly

Things didn’t look good for right winger Brett Connolly returning to the Bruins after they opted not to tender him a qualifying offer a couple of days ago. Now it appears the former No. 6 overall pick will be headed toward unrestricted free agency. 

A league source told CSNNE.com on Friday morning that “it was fairly certain” Connolly wouldn’t be re-signing with Boston leading up to July 1 and that the right wing would be getting a fresh start someplace else next season. 

The B’s had maintained some level of public interest in keeping Connolly, 24, after relinquishing his RFA rights, but there hasn’t been much in the way of substantive communication between the two sides over the last few days.

Connolly scored nine goals and 25 points with a minus-1 in 71 games for the Black and Gold last season in a disappointing offensive season playing on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. 

He went long stretches without scoring goals or posting points last season and never played like the 6-foot-2, 193-pound power forward-type he was projected to be coming out of junior hockey. 

It was a step back from a decent season as a Tampa Bay Lightning third liner in 2014-15, and a clear bummer after they’d shipped a pair of second round picks to the Bolts in exchange for the former lottery pick.

With Connolly now headed for free agency with zero assets coming back to the Bruins in exchange for him, chalk this up as another total loss for the Bruins at a trade deadline where they’ve really damaged their long term organizational prospects over the past couple of years. 

 

Bruins sign David Backes after losing Eriksson to Vancouver

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Bruins sign David Backes after losing Eriksson to Vancouver

It apparently hasn't taken long for the Bruins to replace Loui Eriksson.

Moments after word trickled out that Ericksson signed with the Canucks for a deal believed to be worth $36 million over six years, Bob McKenzie of TSN reported the Bruins signed ex-Blue center David Backes to a five-year contract. In addition, McKenzie also reported that Boston has re-signed defenseman John-Michael Liles.

More to come . . . 

Bruins having 'very, very productive talks' with D-man Liles

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Bruins having 'very, very productive talks' with D-man Liles

The Bruins still hold high hopes for what free agency might bring them for a defenseman when the market opens Friday at noontime, but it also feels like Bruins GM Don Sweeney is under-promising while hoping to over-deliver. Either that or the Bruins really don’t have many good prospects at significantly improving their blue line group headed into next season.

For the first time Sweeney made a “defenseman-by-committee” reference during Thursday’s conference call to announce the four year contract extension for Torey Krug, and talked up positive contract talks with 35-year-old John-Michael Liles.

Yes, that’s the same Liles that was a minus-7 in 17 games with the Bruins after coming to Boston at the trade deadline for draft picks and Anthony Camara. One would expect it to be a one year deal at a very reduced rate along the lines of last year’s $2.75 million to bring Liles back in Boston if the Bruins can’t somehow land a bigger free agent fish like Jason Demers, or Brian Campbell.

There’s also the possibility of something shaking loose with Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler in trade discussions, but Liles was the only available defenseman that Sweeney addressed by name during his chat with reporters.

“We’ve talked to free agent candidates. I’ve mentioned John-Michael [Liles]; I think that we’ve had very, very productive talks there. We’re looking for balance; we’re looking for younger players to have an opportunity to emerge and grab a hold of that,” said Sweeney. “Whichever we can improve our team internally or externally, we’re going to continue to evaluate and pursue. The trade market … whether that materializes remains to be seen. And it’s not an easy process, nor is the free agency process.

“So we’re going to do the work to try and improve our team but it starts internally with our group. And our coaches are excited about what our young players are going to bring to the table.”

After signing Krug to a four year extension that will pay him $5.25 million per season and buying out Dennis Seidenberg’s contract, the Bruins still have $19 million to play with headed into Friday’s open of the free agent market. So the Bruins have the capital to be players on July 1 if they want to make a big splash.

It just remains to be seen whether the Bruins will be capable of making a big splash given the available players, and how many of the big named ones seem to be leaning toward NHL destinations other than the Black and Gold.