Bruins-Habs Factors: Chara, Marchand & Getting through the Trap

Analysis by BruinsUnite

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was hospitalized last night for dehydration, the team announced this morning. “As of Saturday, he was being evaluated by the team’s medical staff” but Coach Claude Julien said today that he expects Chara to be in the lineup for tonight’s Game 2. (WEEI)

“Chara had five shots on goal in 25:06 of ice time in Thursday’s Game 1” and was arguably the only player apart from Brad Marchand who was psychologically present for Game 1. Chara was on his game and performed according to the usual expectations, which are quite high.

Game 1 Performances: Carey Price not a Major Factor
Brad Marchand played, well, just like Brad Marchand. He’s fast, intelligent in his decision-making, plays with the physicality of player twice his size and does his best to draw penalties. All that is enough to get the job done–in the regular season. Let’s hope the same will hold true in the post season.

In contrast with the performance of the rest of his team, Marchand was the highlight of the night for many Bruins fans.

On the D side of things, the essential components that Chara brings are sometimes overlooked in a fast-paced game in which the fans are focused on the next much-needed goal. But this analyst counted approximately 4 excellent Montreal opportunities directly shut down by Zdeno Chara Thursday. Were it not for Chara Thursday, the game could easily have ended 6 – 0.

This detracts significantly from the common view circulating in the media “Carey Price was simply that good.” This is an overstatement. Price was good enough for playoff hockey, which merits praise, but he made most of his saves on shots from the blue line. The rest were quite sloppy, save for maybe one or two, at most. Video Example (French)

Again, Marchand played an excellent game that overshadowed the rest of the team’s offensive dedication, and even seemed to be in big-league playoff mode. This was surprising, given his lack of experience, but not surprising, in light of his sudden success this season, coupled with his personality and drive. As Fluto Shinzawa tells us in an excellent article on Marchand, Don Matheson, a former Bruins’ Canadian Maritimes amateur scout and Moncton’s director of recruiting  (he died in December 2008) told Scott Bradley (who was then the Bruins’ director of amateur scouting) that “Marchand was a can’t-miss player.” Early in 2006, when Bradley traveled to Halifax to interview Marchand, he recounts:

“When Donnie and I met him, I could see he had something,’’ said Bradley, who is now director of player personnel. “It was in the way he conducted himself in the interview. His on-ice play. All that stuff.

“He never quit. I’d watch him in the playoffs. He never quit. He’d go down swinging. That’s a quality you can’t teach.’’

Brad Marchand’s nicknames include Marshy, Squirrel, Rat, and even “an unprintable one from a Bruins teammate.” The reason?

In Providence, Marchand earned the Squirrel nickname. After he scored, teammates would joke that even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. But his actions remind most of another furry, long-tailed animal. Marchand has been known to do research on opponents for valuable material regarding girlfriends and other sensitive subjects.

“Little [expletive],’’ said Milan Lucic, who played against Marchand during the 2006 Memorial Cup. “Same way. Hasn’t changed. Just a little [expletive] who was out there doing his thing.’’

Marchy’s Talents Real & Complex

Marchand always had skill and spunk he would dole out in proper portions. In 2004-05, during Marchand’s Quebec Major Junior rookie season, Moncton played Rimouski, which had a kid named Sidney Crosby. Before the game, Kevin Marchand, Brad’s former bantam and peewee coach, had a reminder.

“Don’t believe at all that he’s better than you are,’’ father told son. “You’re better than him. Don’t give your opponent the respect that he’s better than you, that he’s going to beat you. Believe in yourself. You’re better.’’

During the game, the two clashed behind the net. Marchand grabbed Crosby by the neck. Crosby shoved Marchand. Marchand popped Crosby in the mouth. In that game, Marchand scored his first career goal and was named Second Star.

If we compare his performance in Game 1 with his performance in the last 5 regular season games or so, we note that Marchy stepped up his game to make up for the increased intensity of the playoffs. Good stuff. He was the only player creating his own scoring opportunities Thursday, which is useful when hardly anyone else seemed to be capable of handling the puck calmly, or of attacking.

Game 2 Shots Must Penetrate Trap: The Point Unacceptable
Attacking will require getting through the trap, and it has become painfully clear that the Canadiens are very fond of this style of play against the Bruins. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve been using it against the Bruins for years, and successfully so. While this is old news to most who watch the games, one has to wonder why Coach Claude Julien is unwilling to deviate from the dump-and-chase response to the Habs.

With a big, tough and fast and talented team that no longer shies in comparison to Montreal’s speed, the Bruins should be able to cut through the center to get to the net. So why have so many of their shots on goal been from the point or worse? One would hope Claude Julien has considered this question–and found the answer. On the attack, the Bruins need more Marchand and less Chara from the point. In the defensive zone, they will need more of the same from Chara and less turnovers. Kaberle must be better prepared and conquer his regular season learning curve tonight. One error is one too many in the playoffs.

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Posted on April 16, 2011, in Analysis, Analysis by BruinsUnite, Boston Bruins News, Brad Marchand, Bruin Strategy, Injuries, NHL Analysis, Players, Playoffs, Zdeno Chara. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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