Blog Entry

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:13 pm

A while back, Boston coach Claude Julien decided to take a new approach to solving his team's power-play woes. The plan seemed to make sense: Take the biggest player in hockey, Zdeno Chara, and park him right in the crease. Who better to screen the goalie than the 6'9 (off skates) defenseman?

Well, it's not working. A.J. Perez documented how ineffective the Bruins' power play has been this postseason and how it wasn't any better in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, so it's time to go back to the drawing board. Not every idea is a winner.

Just listen to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo comparing the tactic to what he faced in year's past with Dustin Byfuglien while with the Blackhawks:

"It's not the same. Obviously Zdeno is a bit bigger," Luongo said after Game 1. "On the first power play it was a bit tough to find the puck. But once they got another one, I was able to make a few adjustments, able to see the puck better.

"I think he's a big body, but at the same time we decided that it's best if we just leave him alone and let me take care of him."

Kind of defeats the point of the man advantage, now doesn't it? If Luongo is able to handle Chara on his own, then we are talking about a five-on-five situation as Luongo gets to act as a defenseman in addition to a goalie.

Now, it's certainly possible that Luongo is saying this now to try and nip it in the bud because he really is bothered by Chara. But even if he is, it still stands that it hasn't led to more success for the B's.

"When they're on the power play, yeah, they don't have that great a percentage, but they're a very good power play and they get a lot of chances," Canucks center Ryan Kesler said. "Lou had to make some pretty good saves. After the first couple power plays, we kind of figured out what they were trying to do."

What better reason than that for Boston to try something different?

Quite frankly, Chara's best attribute is his slapshot. With as devastating as it can be, he should be sitting at the point with the man advantage, not right in front of the goalie. Making deflections is not his strength. And if he's not screening the goalie to the extent of being a true hindrance, then what's the point?

"I mean, typically I like to look over the guy's shoulder," Luongo said. "In this case it's going to be impossible to do that obviously. I have to change that a little bit.

"I thought as we moved along in the game, we made some good adjustments as far as making sure that the shots come from the side and not from the middle so I can see better."

Setting up shop in the crease is a learned skill, so throwing Chara in that role hoping things will click isn't likely to happen. It has to be back to the drawing board.

"I think our power play was better tonight than it had been in a while," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Game 1. "We spent a lot of time [in Vancouver's zone], we had some shots, had some opportunities [and] had some chances. We didn't score. Obviously, when your power play isn't doing well, people are going to criticize because you didn't score."

You could say that.

Boston needs to try and space out the offense more, hopefully creating holes in the Canucks' defense with good puck movement in an attempt to open passing lanes. If the B's want to continue to employ the strategy of putting a man in the crease, then they might want to look at somebody else on the roster. It isn't necessary to abandon the idea, just the execution.

However Julien seems to have no such designs.

"They were pretty hard on him yesterday at times. He just got back upand did his job. I anticipate he'll only get better at that position as we use him there," Julien said Thursday.

I understand the previous attack method wasn't working much better for Boston -- it was a season-long struggle with a man up -- but the Bruins were able to find some occasional success. Not in Game 1. They were 0 for 6 that included four minutes straight in the first period as well as a 5 on 3 later.

Chara had eight goals and seven assists on the power play this season. Boston would be better off putting him back at the point and moving the puck more to the center of the ice and teeing off from back there. Nobody in the game has a better slapper, so it's time to let it fly.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:11 pm
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Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: June 4, 2011 3:47 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

 I think the 2nd biggest problem with Chara in front of the net was his inability to grab the lose puck and do something with it. Several times the puck was loose right at his feet and he couldn't come up with it. He is a great defenseman with the greatest shot, but he doesn't have the hands to finesse the puck when it's in tight.

 The biggest problem is that Kaberle is on the point on the PP. If Chara is there to screen Luongo to impair his ability to see the point shots, you need a guy who will actually take shots. You could see Vancouver cheat a bit with Kaberle up high because they know as well as anyone that he won't shoot. This effectively nullifies the threat from the point and negates the advantage of having the biggest player in the league in front of thre net. If Kaberle would actually shoot the puck (and he does have a good shot), the Bruins PP would have been more successful, in my opinion.

 As for their PP overall, they have been unsuccessful so long that they have lost confidence. That 5 on 3 was horrible. They were spread out too far and it took way too long to move the puck. If you look, they were spread out so far that you would think it was a 5 on 4, not a 5 on 3.  Vancouver had enough time to adjust after every pass because the Bruins held it too long. The Bruins also passed the puck too often rather than make passes to set up a shot and crash the net. You can't score if you don't shoot, and in the NHL, the level of goaltending is so high (particularly with these two goalies in the final) that not only do you have to shoot, but you need to do it quickly. Holding the puck too long is not going to catch the PK unit out of position.

Since: Feb 20, 2011
Posted on: June 4, 2011 3:46 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

it seems to be something of a miracle that the B's have gone this far while having the most "pathetic" power-play in the history of the NHL playoffs. It's like the Bruins are going to a fight with one-arm tied behind their back. Let's face it, if the B's lose this series to the Canucks many people will be pointing to their inability to capitalize on the "man-advantage," and rightfully so.

The most bothersome aspect of the B's "ANEMIC" power-play was the reaction of Claude Julien after the game 1 loss. In his typical "NON-ACCOUNTABLE" manner, he basically said that his team's power-play was better than Vancouver's and that since both teams were even on special-teams (zero power-play goals) he was thrilled. Can somebody please get it through Claude's thick-skull that the B's can't win a 0-0 hockey game.

One last thing, to think the B's "stubborn" head-coach has such an "offensively-gifted" youngster like Tyler Seguin, yet he continues to play a tired, slow, 43 year-old Marc ecchi is truly inexcusable and disturbing. Will it cost the B's a Stanley-Cup, I sure hope not.

As far as the Zdeno Chara experiment, - this is another "STUPID" idea of Claude Julien that has not resulted in anything positve. Some will say the power-play ;ooks better, but the B's have not scored with Big-Z up front. Furthermore, Chara has a huge-stick, which makes it impossible for him to control the puck if he gets a rebound, - it's painful to watch. In addition to him not having the proper scoring touch with his 7-foot stick, in front of the net, he has "the-hardest" slap-shot in the NHL, which means he would be much better at the point-position.

To sum up, Claude Julien's decision-makiong should come into strong question if the B's continue their epic failures on the power-play, and lose to the Canucks.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: June 4, 2011 2:16 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

I mean the Bruins.

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:51 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

I think they should move Chara back to the point. Not because the PP isn't scoring, but because it didn't make sense in the first place. Chara's biggest weapon is no secret. Put one of your other wide bodies in front of the net and let him launch it. Or use his shot as a decoy, fake it and move the puck around to the open man. The guy is big, but I always thought a screen was more about width than height. Lucic would make more sense in front. He's pretty wide and he has good hands.

On a side note: I'm sorry to say it Bruins fans, but Marchand is the biggest little bitchh I've ever seen. I'm not saying he's not skilled. I'm saying he's a little punk and I hope he gets his crooked nose splattered before this series is over. It's gone on through the whole playoffs. He only hits people from the blind side and he's always trying to act tough because he knows Chara and Recchi and the rest of the big boys will come save his munchkin ass. Eventually he'll get stuck alone in a corner with the wrong guy and get himself wrecked, I just hope I get to see it.

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:40 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

No one reallty cares about "Original Six" -- it's been nearly 45 YEARS since the first expansion.

Move on -- the rest of us in hockey society have.

Since: Oct 16, 2009
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:01 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

Hey, Screen, how did you notice a problem with the Canucks powerplay in the TB series?

I agree that Boston needs to change their strategy, as Louongo can just look under Chara to find the puck, his legs are like 4 feet long! Try a grinder like Lucic down low and let Chara rifle it from the point. Do whatever you gotta do to keep that trophy from the Canucks! God I hate them so much, and I live in British Columbia, like 3 hours from Vancouver.

Since: Dec 25, 2009
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:00 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

" He's actually =too= big there, and looks like someone trying to change his clothes inside a telephone booth"

Super Man changes his clothes in a telephone booth & it seems to work out OK.

Since: Sep 21, 2009
Posted on: June 4, 2011 11:41 am

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

Agree 100%. Luongo can see those slap shots from the point a mile away. They need to work it inside more instead of passing it around the permieter for a one timer that are easy to see coming. Van (and TB in the last series) were good at working it in and going to the net. Gotta get it in closer if we have any hope although I think we lose this series in 5 unfortunately.

Since: Apr 1, 2011
Posted on: June 4, 2011 10:03 am

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

I am a Chicago Blakchawks fan and always have been.

I would love to see the Bruins take the Lord Stanley Cup. It is always wonderful to see an original six win it. It means more to the team an their diehard loyal fans.

Come on Boston. Chicago is on your side.    

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