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Game 2: Chara on the point, Chara at the crease?

June 3, 2011

Chris Kelly plays it old-school. After this eye injury during the Montreal series, much to his doctor ‘s (and doctors everywhere) horror. 

Game one, despite a final score of 1-0, ended up being a rather wild and rollicking match. For teams that seldom play one another, save for once every year or so, they both managed to muster quite a bit of emotion. But perhaps that’s simply what happens when you play in the Finals. After those first few awkward and anxious minutes in the first period, wherein both teams looked out of their element and shocked by the position in which they found themselves, things quickly settled in. By the end of the first, it was clear that this would come to be a classic series. Didn’t take too long.

For any individual that had watched game seven from the Tampa series would have been quick to note, it was reminiscent of that game. Not in the sense of penalties (gasp! that scoresheet was littered!) but in the sense that the goaltending was superb and both teams played tight games. Special teams for both teams looked great.

Yes, even the Bruins.

One of the biggest questions to emerge is where Chara belongs on the point, or down low. For game one and game six against Tampa, he has been down low. Finding a way to kick-start the moribund power-play has been the top priority for the Bruins. Need I beat the horse more? No. So, let’s talk solutions, not problems. Many pundits claim it is simply an anathema to have a man with a 105 MPH slapshot NOT on the point. Well, Chara was on the point for the better part of the post-season, and nothing happened. The Bruins basically never scored. He was on the point during the regular season as well, and while Chara can and does score from the point or provide tip-ins now and again, those events are few and far between. Simply put, why keep repeating the same positioning when it’s showed itself to be faulty? People who didn’t follow the Bruins closely seem to be the ones exclaiming that he belongs on the point. With him down low, the Bruins have finally showed signs of life. Too often, they relied on Chara for back-up on the blue-line, to keep pucks in the zone, to stabilize things. But for the sake of better puck movement and fluidity, having a spare forward back there, one who is more mobile, agile, better able to pinch in, is superior. Moreover, should the Canucks snatch the puck while down a man and attempt a breakaway, I’d much rather have Bergeron tracking him down than Chara. Bergeron is simply faster. Chara, for all his merits (who wouldn’t want him on their team?) struggles to match the speed and agility of the fastest forwards in the league. They just embarrass him. And that’s not his game. All that said, Chara down low is great. He simply needs to screen Luongo. Luongo is an all-world goalie that can save anything…anything that he can see. A big, bad screen in the form of six foot nine Chara is about any goalie’s nightmare. Look at what Byfuglien did to Luongo last year. Exactly.

A big screen.

Chara on the point failed. At least for this season. Time to re-jigger things. For all the flack Kaberle’s received, he has improved the motions in the power-play and he rarely makes mistakes (five on five, yes, he makes mistakes). Perhaps the Bruins will never have a truly excellent power-play, but they will need a serviceable one. And if the Canucks showed anything in game one, it’s that they are none too afraid of allowing their opponents the man advantage.

 

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