BostonBruins.com - Sunday night against the rival Montreal Canadiens, Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara served 17 penalty minutes for taking exception to a cross-ice hit on Tyler Seguin, arguably one of the B's best performers on the night, despite the 4-3 loss.
But, the day following the defeat, with Bruins taking part in an optional skate at Ristuccia Arena, Head Coach Claude Julien was quick to tell media that the penalty-time was not to blame, and that his squad could have won in their Captain's absence, if they would have simply stepped up defensively.
"We’re a team - we win together, we lose together," said Coach Julien, referencing how his B's needed to step up without Chara on the ice. "We’ve taken that approach that we’re going to stick up for each other."
"Zdeno was on for the first two goals against, so just because Zdeno was in the box wasn’t the reason we lost the game."
The Canadiens were able to take a 2-1 lead into the second period off those two goals, including one on the power play, before the B's could gain the 3-2 edge heading into the final frame. Chara was in the box serving his 2-5-10 penalties until about seven minutes left in the third, and by the time he exited, the Habs were up 4-3.
There's no denying that Captain Chara brings a toughness and stabilization on the group of B's blueliners, but Coach is confident in his roster to get the job done, no matter who is on the ice.
"We are a good enough team that we can certainly win a hockey game with Zdeno in the box for 17 minutes," said Coach. "It was more about our puck management in our end that cost us those mistakes. And it wasn’t just from one guy, it was from many guys."
"What happened last night was a expected – a pretty tight game, close game like it always is against the Montreal Canadiens. I just felt, defensively, we made too many mistakes. Puck management wasn’t what it usually is – and it ended up costing us some goals."
Following the game, Zee's teammates wishes they could have given their Captain a better result.
"Anytime a guy does that you give him a pat on the back, but we have to do our job to stick up for him," Brad Marchand told media after the loss Sunday night at TD Garden. "And unfortunately they did get a couple of goals but by no means is that Zee’s fault."
"I didn’t feel like we were moving the pucks as well as we can. Sure they forecheck well, but for some reason passes weren’t as crisp coming out of our own end on a lot of occasions and it kind of got us in trouble a little bit," said Coach Julien on Sunday. "When we got the puck out and went and did the same thing in their end, we had our chances too. They were giving us those opportunities as well."
"I just felt that defensively, when there were some breakdowns we weren’t really there to cover their mistakes and pucks ended up in our net."
Without Chara at the end of the second and most of the third, the Bruins' D had to log more minutes. Young defenseman Dougie Hamilton finished the game with 19:14 of ice time, behind only Johnny Boychuk (20:45) and Dennis Seidenberg (27:11). Though he said he felt Chara's absence, Hamilton acknowledged that the Bruins could have managed the puck better to produce a better result.
"Just a bit sloppy I guess…just some bounces that I guess could’ve gone the other way or kind of just sit there and they would come and bang in so I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes," said Hamilton, reflecting on the loss.
"I think it’s a little, like I said, unfortunate, that we had those bounces and they scored those goals but it’s not really a good feeling in the room right now and kind of the way we’ve been playing in the third and how we’ve been doing, it’s a weird feeling."
"So hopefully we can get back to how we did before."