Chara, Seidenberg Bring the Offense in Fight-Filled 3-2 OT Win over Caps
BOSTON, MA - Those in attendance at TD Garden got a fight night on Monday in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime preseason win over the Washington Capitals, with four bouts of dropping the gloves fueled by skaters trying to make their clubs' opening night rosters.
Included in that mix was an extended hammering, featuring the bruiser himself, Milan Lucic.
But the Boston faithful also got to see the Bruins' newly re-worked - and still experimental - power play in effect, with Zdeno Chara trolling the front of the net. The movement resulted in two goals from the Captain on the man-advantage, one with his 6-foot-9 frame parked in front, and another on a rocket from the right circle, as he maneuvered his way down from the point.
Albeit in preseason, with penalty kills not necessarily always in their regular season form, it can't be ignored that the new cycling has given the Bruins nine power-play goals (out of 15 total tallies) in five preseason games.
"I think it's big advantage," Seidenberg said postgame, with no pun intended. "I mean, if you look at him, he takes away so much vision from the goalie. It takes every goalie every effort just to look around him. It should leave a big part of the net open, if you're smart about creating shooting lanes and just getting pucks to the net."
"And even on rebounds, he's so strong on the stick and for the most part, he wins the puck battles."
"No matter where it is, I like to compete in those areas," Chara said of the gritty area he likes to control down low and create havoc. "However the coaching staff decides to use me, I’m fine with that. Right now we are trying different looks on the power play."
"Well, obviously it’s been pretty good for us in the preseason, the power play, I think we just need to stay sharp and keep working on it in practice," added Lucic. "Who I think the best thing is our puck movement is a lot better, I think there’s confidence in making those good passes and guys are shooting the puck when they have the opportunity as well."
"The coaches always want us to join and support the rush, but you see all the young guys, Krug jumping up and you want to keep up and show what you can do as well," said the veteran blueliner, more known for his logged minutes, heavy hits and corner battles, and shot-blocking that comes to the forefront during the postseason.
"For whatever reason, it's working right now, so we just need to do it in the regular season as well."
And maybe the 'young guys' are rubbing off on him?
"Yeah, I mean, you always look around and see what the young guys are doing better, or what you can do better," smiled Seidenberg. "And obviously, those guys are very skilled offensively and you want to do the same. You can always work on it."
Fight Night at TD Garden
Preseason games always features players on both benches vying for spots on their teams' opening night roster. Which means, it usually brings out fights, showing the "team-mentality" intangible, that a player is willing to do whatever it takes.
At 9:46 into the first period, blueliner Kevan Miller dropped the gloves with Aaron Volpatti. While Volpatti got in most of the punches, Miller earned the takedown along the boards.
Next up, Joel Rechlicz challenged Milan Lucic to a bout just six minutes later that lasted more than 40 seconds, with streams of punches being hammered upon one another.
"I was hoping he was going to go down," Lucic smirked in the locker room postgame.
"But [he’s a] big tough kid. I guess, great fight - I’m sure you guys enjoyed it. It’s always nice to get into one, just because it’s been the offseason and not getting into a fight and then having one like that – there’s probably no better way to get back into it."
"Guys at this point are trying to do whatever they can to make the team and that’s pretty much it."
"Obviously, there’s a lot of cons to fighting in the preseason. You don’t want to break a hand or get a concussion or anything like that from fighting in the preseason. The pros are you’re showing that no matter what the situation is and no matter what the game is, you’re going to stick up for yourself and your teammates."
Coach Julien probably said it best postgame.
"Hockey’s hockey," he remarked, on the preseason fighting. "I know you don’t necessarily like seeing that, but guys are used to playing the game a certain way and preseason is about fine tuning yourself and it was what it was."
"And I’ll tell you what, that guy had a steel jaw because he wasn’t going down and Looch kept throwing some pretty good punches. It was a fight for men, and people who enjoy that kind of hockey certainly got their money’s worth just on that one alone."
Rechlicz decided he wasn't done taking on B's just yet, engaging Johnny Boychuk after the blueline stepped up on a Caps D-man (who didn't really miss a beat). Boychuk isn't usually one to drop the gloves (it was he first tussle since 2011-12), but his toughness is never questioned. After Rechlicz went at him, the pair sparred briefly near the Capitals' bench at 7:42 into the second.
Adam McQuaid and Nick Johnson were up next to drop the gloves, almost in simultaneous fashion, with Dane Byers and Michal Cajkovski, to round out three periods of fights.
"McQuaid just hit [Byers] pretty good and the other guy [Cajkovski] didn’t like it, and it just kind of worked out with McQuaid trying to fight him. When McQuaid was on the ground [after Byers pushed him from behind], I didn’t like that so - just doing what you do right? You protect Quaider when he’s on the ground."
"I didn’t get the best hold on the guy, he was a little bigger than me, but I’ve fought guys before so it was alright, he didn’t really get me too bad."
It didn't matter what the end result of the fight had been.
"Outstanding job by him, a lot of character, that’s exactly what the identity of this team is," said Captain Zee. "His approach and his reaction to protect his teammate was outstanding, good for us and great for him."
Rask to Play Full Game in Saskatoon
Besides the fights and the close end score, the game itself was pretty lopsided, with the B's 38 shots on Braden Holtby and Tuukka Rask only facing 14 shots between the pipes.
He didn't see much pressure, so he'll be looking forward to get another full game in Saskatoon on September 28 against the Winnipeg Jets, in the B's final preseason game.
"I’m not going to hide that fact that he’s going to play the last game; we have a week before the season starts after that game so it’s important for him to play that game in Saskatoon," said Julien.
"That’s why you practice too right?" Rask said of the slow night around his crease. "Every game is different, as always. Sometimes you don’t get any shots and today was probably one of the worst-case scenarios for a goalie who likes shots. But it was still a game and you've got to learn how to live with that situation."
"I feel good out there," he added. Despite only seeing the 14 shots on Monday night, and half a game against the Capitals during the preseason game in Baltimore, Rask is ready.
"I don’t feel like I have to do a lot of extra stuff. But it’s just being sharp and getting some practice in and, maybe, one good game."