Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
If anyone can grapple the Norris Trophy from the clutches of multiple winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings, it is Chara.
The numbers speak for themselves. His 16 goals rank him among the league leaders for defencemen. His plus-24 is one of the best totals in the NHL.
Yes, the Washington Capitals’ Mike Green is having an outstanding offensive season with 28 goals. And yes, the likes of Lidstrom, Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski and Shea Weber, just to mention a few, certainly deserve consideration.
Where Chara separates himself from the others is the ability to use his towering frame to completely smother opposing snipers, a quality his coach very much appreciates.
from Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press,
Manny Fernandez looked like he’d seen a ghost.
Clearly trying to put all things Minnesota behind him, Fernandez appeared stunned when a reporter from St. Paul walked up to him the other day in Ristuccia Arena, where the Boston Bruins practice.
You could almost see the wheels turning. Did he mix up the next opponent? Weren’t the Bruins scheduled to play the Devils the next afternoon?
At times cordial and at times a smoldering volcano during his six seasons with the Wild, Fernandez seems to have turned over a new leaf with the Boston Bruins. After a moment, he extended his hand, peeled off his big goalie pads and said he’d be happy to talk a little puck.
from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
“Going into the game, we knew we were going to be seeing a lot of him (Chara), our line was,” Parise said. “A few times, we were able to get in there, but I think we’ve got to do a better job against him. We have played well against him before in the last couple of games, but tonight we couldn’t get much going.”
Devils coach Brent Sutter said it’s up to Parise to fight through that sort of thing and not his teammates to protect him.
“Every time someone gets touched, it’s a big deal because someone gets touched,” Sutter said. “Your best players have to play through some things too. This time of the season and come playoffs, you’re going to have to take punches to the head for the benefit of the team. Did he intimidate us? He certainly didn’t intimidate us out there. He’s a competitor and Zach has to learn to play through stuff too. That’s part of being a good player. You’ve got to play through some things maybe you don’t like. You have to fight through it. I’m not saying he doesn’t. I’m just saying that every time someone gets hit in a game doesn’t mean you have to respond or a positive or negative way either. We know how to handle that. It’s not like we don’t know how to handle these things.”
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
This is not a team that needs a new coach, and the parts are the parts, the same ones that were almost good enough 2-4 months ago to run away and hide. But it is a team that needs a surge now in its compete level (read: effort) and an attitude adjustment. Skill got them to a point, but they then turned a little lazy, and that led to confusion. Lazy and confused are the left hook and right uppercut that lead to quick KOs.
They have to play bigger and they have to play dirtier and nastier, which is always what makes for playoff success. This is a team with enough goods to extend the season into June. What the Bruins must find now is an inner anger, an emotion that will rain down on their heads in sheets and buckets, or else they’ve turned 2008-09 into nothing but a tease.
more plus othe NHL notes, including Sakic in a Canucks sweater next season…
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
When they were at their best, the Bruins dominated time of puck possession by transitioning swiftly, employing a straight-line attack, and using their speed and skill to cycle deep in opposing zones.
Recently, general manager Peter Chiarelli has seen his passive players regrouping with the puck far too often, indicating that they’re not confident enough to turn up ice and fly into the teeth of other teams’ defenses.
“Now your forwards have to come back and everything has to move this way instead of that way,” Chiarelli said, pointing to the defensive side of the ice. “I’m not blaming the defensemen. I’m not blaming the forwards. I’m not blaming anybody. It’s something where the confidence isn’t there.”
It’s an affliction that is not unique to the 2008-09 Bruins.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The loss underscored some ugly truths about the Bruins. They’re playing scared. They’re downright polite when they take leads. They think twice about turning in 60-minute efforts. And they’re not committed to being as hungry and desperate as their opponents.
“A couple things have to happen,” said coach Claude Julien, deep into his checklist of items in an attempt to revive his club. “Basically, all I have to say is that we’re going to have to start outworking other teams from start to finish like we were earlier in the season. And your best players have to find their games and give it the best they can for us to get out of it.”
from Joe Haggarty of WEEI,
A statement about which team ultimately wants first place and permanent home ice will be made in the rare Sunday afternoon matinee between the Devils and Bruins at the Garden, even if some players are feigning standings ignorance.
“Why? Where are they?” asked Aaron Ward when asked how hard it is to ignore the surge of the hard-charging and pointy-tailed Devils. “Does that answer your question?”
Don’t let the dose of B’s bravado fool you, however. Each of the Bruins players knows exactly where every relevant team is in the standings, and most of them read the newspaper every day. If they don’t check it in the morning edition or daily blog, then there is a giant dry-erase board with all of Eastern and Western Conference standings positioned in the hallway between the practice ice and the team dressing room.
from Douglas Flynn of the Hockey Journal,
No longer is it a matter of taking home the President’s Trophy for the NHL’s best regular-season record or even holding on to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Both goals are still attainable, but Western powers Detroit (103 points) and San Jose (100) have climbed past the Bruins. Boston still leads the East with 99 points, but New Jersey has closed within four points with two games in hand.
The Bruins aren’t conceding either race by any means. They just understand that even if they manage to squeak out either title, it will ring hollow if they carry their sloppy play into the postseason for another early playoff exit.
“Not as much as what we have to do to put our team back on track; I think that’s the most important thing right now,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, asked about the priority of finishing in first. “If we get this team back on track then the standings will kind of take care of themselves. As much as we’d like to finish as high as we can, I think the main priority right now really has to be on fine-tuning our game.”
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
In a quirk of the NHL schedule, the B’s play just twice in 12 days. And while they’re fine-tuning their game in Wilmington, New Jersey and Washington, the teams that have any real chance of catching the first-place B’s in the Eastern Conference, will each play a half-dozen games.
The Devils, six points behind the B’s, play four on the road, including Sunday’s huge matinee against the Bruins, while the Capitals, seven points back, play five straight on the road, beginning with last night’s loss in Atlanta. The Devils have three games in hand on the B’s.
By the time the Bruins resume playing in earnest, they very well could be looking up at one of those two teams.
from Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog,
To Boston Bruin goaltender Manny Fernandez, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s breaking of Patrick Roy’s all-time wins record — which could occur Tuesday night against Chicago or any time over the next week or so now that Brodeur tied the record Saturday — is about more than just replacing the name of one great goaltender with another on the top of a list.
Fernandez thinks it’ll help Brodeur get his full due.
“He seemed to be a little bit in (Roy’s) shadow. And now he’s come around, he’s actually beating some of his records, people are starting to notice him a little more and talk about him,” Fernandez recently told TheBruinsBlog.net. “He’s a great goalie. He was born to play that sport; you can see that. He’s a guy that doesn’t get overstressed. He could be playing in a Game 7 and still look like it’s practice. That’s what you need.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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