Monday, September 23, 2013
Final buzzer: Chara's PP presence pays off
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- It really doesn't matter where Bruins coach Claude Julien positions defenseman Zdeno Chara on the power play because the captain can do it all.
Chara scored a pair of power-play goals -- a redirect in front and a slap shot from the point -- to help Boston to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals Monday night at TD Garden.
Julien likes the idea of having Chara in front of the opposition's net during a Boston power play, so the coach is using the preseason games to station the 6-foot-9, 255-pound blueliner above the paint to create blind havoc.
Zdeno Chara celebrates after redirecting a shot in front past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
Julien has tried this in the past but he's taking advantage of the exhibition games to get Chara more comfortable in that spot. During the team's morning skate Monday, Chara spent extra time working on redirecting the puck in front of the net. The work paid off.
In the waning minutes of the second period, the Bruins were on the power play and Chara was camped out in front when teammate Dennis Seidenberg took a shot from the left point. Chara set the screen and redirected the shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to tie the game at 1-1 at 18:22 of the period. Chara's celebration did not reflect this was merely an exhibition game.
Since the start of training camp, Julien has worked Chara, David Krejci, Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic and Torey Krug as the team's top power-play unit. Chara said he's comfortable being camped out in front and it continues to be a work in progress. The big man certainly creates a major blind spot for opposing goaltenders. Since Krug did not play, fellow blueliner Matt Bartkowski worked on the power-play unit.
With Monday's game tied at 1-1, the Bruins had a 5-on-3 man-advantage when Chara's slap shot from the point found its way past Holtby.
"He was good," Julien said of Chara. "When you look at the first goal, he tipped it in and then he was in front with a lot of chaos going on and a lot of loose pucks. He creates some havoc in front.
"Probably on a normal night we would have had more success, but their goaltender played extremely well tonight and we had a difficult time getting pucks past him. You’re going to see him at the point at times and during that 5-on-3 you saw what his shot can do from back there. We’ll continue to look at that and an 82-game season is a long year, so nothing is carved in stone."
"It’s obviously been pretty good for us in the preseason," Lucic said of the power play. "We just need to stay sharp and keep working on it in practice. Our puck movement is a lot better and there’s confidence in making those good passes and guys are shooting the puck when they have the opportunity."
The Capitals tied the game at 2-2 when Martin Erat beat Tuukka Rask during a scramble in front at 6:38 of the third.
Drop 'em: There were a few fisticuffs in the opening period and continued throughout the game. First, the Bruins' Kevan Miller and the Capitals' Aaron Volpatti dropped the gloves at 9:46. Not only did the pair receive five minutes for fighting, each received an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct for removing their helmets prior to the fight, which is a new rule this season.
Milan Lucic goes toe-to-toe with Joel Rechlicz.
At 15:23 of the first period, Lucic and Washington's Joel Rechlicz went toe-to-toe in a spirited bout. The two exchanged haymakers and by the end of it both were exhausted.
In the second period, Rechlicz dropped the gloves again, this time going with Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Rechlicz received two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
The donnybrooks continued in the opening seconds of the third period when the Capitals' Michal Cajkovsky knocked Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid to the ice from behind. Boston's Nick Johnson, who's battling for a roster spot and has three goals in four preseason games, challenged Cajkovksy and the two went at it. Meanwhile, when McQuaid got to his feet, he dropped the gloves and went with Washington's Dane Byers.
Quiet night for Rask: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask played his first complete game of the preseason, but didn’t face many shots and finished with 12 saves.
“That’s why you practice too, right? Rask said. “Every game is different. Sometimes you don’t get any shots and today was probably one of the worst-case scenarios for a goalie. But it’s still a game and you have to learn to live with that in those kinds of situations too.”
With only two preseason games remaining, Julien said after Monday’s game that Rask will play the final exhibition against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday in Saskatoon. The season opener is Oct. 3 against Tampa Bay at the Garden and Rask said he’ll be ready.
“I feel good out there,” Rask said. “I don’t feel like I have to do a lot of extra stuff. It’s about being sharp, getting some practices and maybe one good [preseason] game and then go from there.”
Roster cut by three:Craig Cunningham and David Warsofsky have been assigned to Providence and Mike Moore will be placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence. The cuts put the Bruins' roster at 28.