Bruins

Chara: I want to stay with Bruins, keep playing beyond this season

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Chara: I want to stay with Bruins, keep playing beyond this season

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara made it clear that he’s willing to talk about his future with the Boston Bruins whenever they make it a priority. After the 40-year-old expressed a desire for a contract extension at the end of last season, there was no discussion from either side this summer leading into the final year of his deal with the Black and Gold. That’s to be expected at this point in his career with an older player like Chara operating on a year-to-year basis, but the Bruins captain said he’s ready and willing whenever his longtime employer wants to have a discussion about his future – even if those negotiations wind up taking place during the season.  

“I love the game. I love everything about it. I love the sacrifice and I love the training. There are so many things that are so positive [about playing in the NHL]. At my age I look at what I can still do and just really enjoy it. I just want to keep improving and play for as long as I can,” said Chara, who made his first appearance at B’s captain’s practice on Tuesday with roughly 30 other B’s skaters. “I always felt I can play for a long time if I’m in good shape and if I can be healthy. So that’s what I wish for, that I can be healthy and play a long time while still being really effective and consistent. 

“I definitely want to play beyond this season. It’s really hard to put a number on it. Some people do and some people don’t. I just obviously want to keep playing [in the NHL] beyond this season. I love this game too much. I have made no secrets about it. I want to stay here [with the Bruins] and continue to play.”

If Chara has enjoys another season like last year then it should be a no-brainer that both sides would want to keep things going. The 40-year-old veteran spent the entire year in a shutdown pairing with 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and then skated with 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy in the playoffs once Carlo was lost to a concussion. 

Chara finished with 10 goals and 29 points in 75 games with a plus-18 rating and averaged 23:30 of ice time as Boston’s de facto No. 1 defenseman. Amazingly, Chara averaged more than 28 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs once Carlo, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid had all been lost to injury, and continued to show new energy in his game playing with the best young D-man prospects in Boston’s system. 

Chara freely admitted that his time skating with Carlo and McAvoy, both young enough to be his own children, benefitted him as much as his experienced helped shepherd them along. 

“I think it works both ways. I think oftentimes people only see one side of the pair, but honestly I enjoy being around the young guys. I look forward to coming to the rink every day and playing with them,” said Chara. “It’s a little bit of a teaching process and a little bit of friendship, and you’ve just got to have respect for each other no matter how many games each player has played [in the NHL]. Whether it’s on or off the ice, the key is communicating and talking things out for when you get on the ice.”

The proper play for the Bruins is to wait and see with Chara, who at 40 years old as a big-bodied, shutdown D-man is really beginning to defy the NHL odds. If the 6-foot-9 captain continues to play as well this season as he did last year – and remains healthy – there are plenty of good arguments to be made for a one or two-year contract at his current $4 million salary for the upcoming season. If Chara begins to break down or starts to really have trouble keeping pace with an NHL that gets faster and more athletic each and every season, then that’s going to speed up Boston’s plan for life after their future Hall of Fame defenseman. 

Clearly it may help Chara this season if the Bruins can further reduce his role where his minutes get scaled back a tick and simultaneously place an even greater focus on his basic shutdown role. But one has also learned not to doubt the prideful, tireless workhorse of a D-man that Chara has been for the last 20 years, and could be for another five at the NHL if the hockey gods see fit to keep him healthy for all that time.   

Bruins, Marchand struggle mightily on power play in defeat

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Bruins, Marchand struggle mightily on power play in defeat

BOSTON – The Bruins have to hope the ugly look for their power play units ends up being a temporary phase.

The Bruins managed to put together just six shots on net in seven power play chances during Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, a situation that was just barely salvaged by a third-period power play goal. The score was a timely one on a connection from David Pastrnak to Brad Marchand that pushed things into overtime, but it did little to wipe out the monumental struggles earlier in the game.

The Bruins couldn’t cohesively get the puck in the offensive zone, and plenty of their team-high 22 giveaways in the game took place in the handful of instances they were rewarded with PP’s this season.

Couple that with the back-to-back shorthanded goals allowed in back-to-back games against Detroit and Washington, and there may be some issues to be straightened out on the man advantage.

“Early on, I thought the pressure in zone, we weren’t able to handle it. They were more aggressive on the kill than we were ready for, and we just did not handle it well,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We had a couple plays in mind we thought might work down low around the net. I think we forced the puck on those down by the goal line, so we spent a lot of time going back into our own end and breaking the puck out, which becomes frustrating.

“We tried to run a delayed play tonight; we were out of sync on it. So, there was problems getting into the zone and there were problems in the zone. There was problems, I mean, whoever watched the game clearly – I mean, we struggled on the power play. We’re not going to hide from that, but it got us a goal later, so we eventually kind of got it squared away but we certainly had opportunities early to take advantage and we didn’t.”

The overall performance during the month of December isn’t that bad for the Bruins, who are 6-for-26 (23 percent success rate) on the power play in the games played this month. They’ve been getting more production with better health, but they’re also playing a little too fast and loose with the puck management and decision-making on the ice.  

Brad Marchand admitted after Saturday night’s loss that it’s up to the Bruins players to start picking it up on special teams and make some better choices with the puck.

“It’s on us. We’re forcing plays when they’re not there. Maybe we need to realize we have an extra second, need to calm it down a bit. When we do that, we are at our best that’s kind of when things go well,” said Marchand. “When we take that extra second, we have good support and read off each other well. We aren’t doing any of that now, we are pressing a bit, but something we need to work on and get better at.”

Perhaps that Marchand goal can be the rallying point for the Bruins power play to move on and move out with all the proper personnel healthy and in place with Ryan Spooner, and just a good, old-fashioned confidence-booster acting as the only thing that can quickly lift the Black and Gold man advantage out of their current status in the dumps.

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Cassidy: Too many men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

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Cassidy: Too many men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

BOSTON – The Bruins made plenty of mistakes in Saturday night’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers, but perhaps most glaring was the pair of too many men on the ice penalties late in the tightly contested hockey game.

The first too many men call wiped out the Bruins final power play of the game, and the second infraction set up the Mats Zuccarello overtime game-winner in the 3-2 victory for the Rangers. Bruce Cassidy had a wry smile on the Bruins bench right after the penalty was called, and copped to a guilty plea of trying to get away with a little something after the game was over.

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Truth be told, the too many men on the ice call in OT could have been called on any one of Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron or Brad Marchand as they headed off the ice after a long shift going back and forth up the ice. The Bruins were scrambling to try and change players while also catching up to a Rangers rush into the B’s defensive zone, and that’s where the trouble came in.

“We’re scrambling to get on the ice, so the call might have been from, like, [Charlie] McAvoy jumping for [Torey] Krug, it might have been Krech [David Krejci] going for Bergy [Patrice Bergeron]. I don’t know. I can’t complain, I mean, we’re trying to gain an advantage there,” said Cassidy. “Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. We didn’t. And the other one was on the power play; we had a forward jump for the wrong guy.

“We had six guys. So, it’s hard to complain about them, you know, we were at fault there, we’ll take the blame for that and unfortunately it’s a lousy way to lose, but we had some chances in overtime too, we just lost our footing on a couple too. It was one of those nights, it seemed like we were – we had some chances at the offensive blue line, even in overtime, we just lost control of pucks and lost our footing and took away some good chances for us.”

Cassidy and the Bruins had a little too many men on the ice trouble during their first-round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators last spring, but it hasn’t really been a recurring issue at all for the B’s bench this season. So the expectation is that Saturday’s OT loss to the Rangers, too many men on the ice penalties and all, was another example of a lot of odd things happening to the Bruins in a game they most definitely didn’t deserve to win. 

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