Bruins

Chara ready for first post-Pacioretty game vs. Habs

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Chara ready for first post-Pacioretty game vs. Habs

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Zdeno Chara didnt shy away from the teeming mass of Boston and Montreal media that crowded around his locker after Wednesday's practice, looking to ask questions about Thursday nights HabsBruins regular-season finale.The two storied NHL rivals still appear to be on a collision course for the first round of the playoffs, and the CharaMax Pacioretty collision that left the Montreal forward with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae was on the minds of everyone within the dressing room.Though Bruins media relations maven Matt Chmura said Chara wouldnt be answering any questions about the Pacioretty incident prior to a five-minute scrum with reporters, the Bruins captain did manage to get a few things across that hes likely been waiting to express.Without going into details, Chara said hes reached out to Pacioretty several times over the last few weeks, but Pacioretty hasnt responded. The B's defenseman may have attempted to go through Pacioretty's Michigan teammate, Steve Kampfer, to get in touch with the Montreal winger, but that's not something Chara was elaborating on.Ive made a few attempts to contact Pacioretty, but he hasnt responded back yet. So far, nothing, said Chara. Im glad hes doing much better and hes probably going to be playing based on the reports that weve heard. Im glad hes going to be fine. Thats good news.Chara seemed to lose a little bit of his edge following the loss, and controversy, up in Montreal, and both the player and team battled through a bit of a dark cloud over their head as police investigations and some truly vicious accusations emanated from Montreal.But Chara battled through on the ice, and has put up two goals and five assists in the six games since the incident, along with a plus-5 rating. It was Charas power-play goal on Tuesday night that proved to be the game-winner over the New Jersey Devils.Chara said well see when asked if he felt like any retribution was coming his way from the Canadiens as a result of the hit a likely scenario, given that no suspensions or supplemental discipline was handed down by the NHL after the collision and it appears the Bruins are braced for anything coming their way.The game itself should be a lot less about settling scores, and quite a bit more about simply playing for Northeast Division supremacy and potential home ice in the playoffs as only three points separate the third-seeded Bs from the sixth-seeded Habs. A win for either team in Boston gives the other momentum and a huge emotional advantage headed into the last few weeks of the regular-season sprint.With two games in hand on Montreal, Chara and the Bruins know theyd essentially be securing their divisional crown with a victory over a motivated Habs bunch that embarrassed them on the Bell Centre ice in the Pacioretty game. They also need to make a statement after struggling with a 1-3-1 record in the previous five meetings against the Canadiens this season.The Bruins have lost 11 of their last 13 regular-season meetings with Montreal, and need to play their strong, intimidating game against a speedy, finesse Canadiens bunch thats skated circles around them in four out of five games this year.The lone exception was the bloody battle on the Garden ice that led to nearly 200 penalty minutes, and set up the CharaPacioretty scene in Quebec.If you look at the standings it looks like BruinsCanadiens could be the playoff matchup, so well see whats going to happen in the next 10 games, said Chara. We all know its a big game for both teams. The rivalry is there and the competition is there. We just need to focus on our game and establish what were working on in the last game. Were focusing on our game.The Habs have a lot of skill and speed up front, and theyre very good system-wise. Its tough to play against teams like that. You have to be in control. Its part of the game to be emotional and play with a lot of jump, but you have to keep a lot of it bottled up and not let emotions take over your game.

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

Morning Skate: An emotional win for Toronto

Morning Skate: An emotional win for Toronto

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while it finally feels like spring is coming to the area.

*There were plenty of emotions swirling as the Bruins and Maple Leafs took the ice for Monday night’s Game 6 and the hope is that the hockey game took at least some people’s minds off the horrible tragedy that took place on the streets of Toronto on Monday. The deepest of prayers and sympathies go out to those that were impacted by the senseless, violent and evil act, but it’s undoubtedly going to take a long time of healing in one of my favorite Canadian cities.

*From the on-ice side of things, here’s a look at tonight’s Game 7 from a Toronto perspective as the Bruins and Maple Leafs ready for a final showdown.

*There are a number of quality candidates for the vacant Minnesota Wild GM job including FOH (Friend of Haggs) Pierre McGuire.

*How should the Columbus Blue Jackets feel about their season after falling to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs?

*Why is it taking so long for the Edmonton Oilers management to go over their review of the coaching staff with the Oil?

*It sounds like Bill Peters is going to be very intense as coach of the Calgary Flames, just as he was with the Carolina Hurricanes.

*For something completely different: So with it coming out this week, who isn’t going to make it out of the "Avengers: Infinity War" movie?

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Haggerty: Feels like the B's could use an offensive spark plug like Donato

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Haggerty: Feels like the B's could use an offensive spark plug like Donato

BRIGHTON, Mass – The one thing that we’ve seen play out in the three losses to the Maple Leafs in their best-of-seven series is a lack of offensive finish on the chances that they’re getting against the Toronto defense. Boston has launched 162 shot attempts in the last two losses to the Maple Leafs both home and on the road, and they’ve managed to score just four goals despite clearly holding the advantage in terms of puck possession, chances and vulcanized rubber tossed at the opposing net.

Most concerning of all, the Bruins top line players in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak all looked visibly frustrated by the third period of Monday night’s Game 6 loss, and really look like they’re beginning to be at a loss at how to beat Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. It still remains to be seen if Andersen is going to be able to continue the hot goaltender act in a winner-take-all Game 7 situation, or if that the frustration for Boston’s elite players will spill over into an elimination game for both teams. 

But one thing that should be strongly considered given all those recent factors would be inserting 21-year-old Ryan Donato into the lineup for the Bruins. Donato had five goals and nine points in 12 games for the Bruins at the end of the season after signing out of Harvard University and was excellent on the power play while working with the top unit during Rick Nash’s injury absence in those final weeks. Now the secondary scoring has essentially dried up for the B’s behind their top line, the weight of the entire offense has begun to burden the top line and the Bruins power play is 1-for-9 in their last four games after bounding out of the gate red hot to start the series. 

Donato has the natural goal-scoring ability, the shot and release and the good hockey IQ to create offense in pretty rapid fashion, and has always been a possibility for the Black and Gold if the offense got a little too static during the postseason. Donato played in one game where he had a couple of shots and some decent time working things out in the offensive zone, but he also showed he’s got some things to learn in terms of board battles and defensive zone work.

There’s also the fact the Bruins seem much more comfortable with Donato at left wing than they do with him manning his off-wing on the right side. 

That’s the dilemma for Bruce Cassidy when it comes to mulling an insertion of Donato into the lineup to act as an offensive jumper cable of sorts. Clearly, they’ve mulled it over and given the idea it’s due diligence in discussions, but it doesn’t sound like the Bruins are going to drop the youngster into Wednesday night’s Game 7 scenario. 

“We’ve considered [playing Donato] certainly,” said Cassidy. “He played a game early [in the series] and he was okay. He wasn’t bad and he wasn’t great. He was somewhere in between. Nothing is set in stone as far as [Game 7] goes. There is something to be said for going with the players that have got you this far, and Danton Heinen is one of those players. 

“Danton has played right wing, and that’s where Donato in our minds is really strictly a left winger. That’s where the juggling would come in if we were going to use Ryan. It was Wingels last night with good playoff experience on the road, and I thought he did a good job. Ryan is in consideration, but we’re going to try and play the best 12 forwards and see how they fit to win a hockey game [on Wednesday]. 

This humble hockey writer’s view: It probably would have been a better idea to give Donato at right wing a shot in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre rather than trying to pass Tommy Wingels off as a second line winger. If the move didn’t work out in Boston’s favor then at least there was still Game 7 to fall back on, but that’s in the rearview mirror. Cassidy needs to decide between going with the tried and true formula of what got the Bruins to this point in the first place while showing unshakable faith, or mixing things up in a tacit acknowledgment that something needs to change after Boston’s two losses in a row in the series headed into Game 7. 

It’s not an easy choice and so much of winning a Game 7 situation is avoiding the kind of rookie mistakes that Donato could easily fall victim to if he was in the lineup for Boston, but it also feels a little tight and a tad conservative for Cassidy to decide that the super-talented young Donato doesn’t have enough upside to push into the lineup. 

It might just come down to this: If you have a choice of which Bruin should have the puck in a key scoring chance during the game, would be it Tommy Wingels, Danton Heinen or Ryan Donato. All due respect to both Wingels and Heinen, but it’s the electric Donato amid some healthy offensive totals he had no trouble scoring when given regular playing time in March and April.

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