VANCOUVER – At 6-foot-9, Zdeno Chara is supposed to be a haul to move and impossible to see around down low on the Bruins’ power play.
However, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night Vancouver seemed to have the perfect plan to deal with him.
“Obviously, when you have such a big body like that in front of net, there’s no sense in getting in a pushing match,” explained Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault Thursday on the morning after his team held Boston to 0-for-6 on the power play and took the series lead with a 1-0 win. “We let [goaltender] Roberto [Luongo] play where he is. He can’t look on top of him because he’s so tall. He’s got to look around him. That’s what he did last night and he found the pucks.”
Defenseman Sami Salo, one of the Canucks players tasked with policing the front of the net didn’t sound too disappointed his coach wasn’t demanding him to enter into hand-to-hand combat with Boston’s monster.
“Obviously with 6-9, there’s not many players in the league that can move him,” he said. “So our focus has been to try to leave him and try to take away the passing lanes and try to blocks some shots.”
The Bruins’ power play is now 5-for-67 in the postseason and one for its last 20. That one goal did come with Chara battling in front and David Krejci cashing in off a feed across to the slot from Nathan Horton in Game 6 against Tampa. And Chara did get his stick on a couple tips in Game 1 against the Canucks. But the Bruins might have to start looking at other options if Vancouver’s not going to let Chara distract them and Luongo’s going to see around him.
Head coach Claude Julien is staying positive about the power play, including the Chara experiment.
“Obviously on the power-play he’s given us a different look. I thought he did a pretty good job. As you know, when you get put in that position, there’s always things that you better yourselves at,” said the coach. “Obviously he’s moving around pretty good at trying to be a screen in front and also not trying to get sucked into penalties. They were pretty hard on him yesterday at times. He just got back up and did his job. I anticipate he’ll only get better at that position as we use him there.”
So it sounds like Chara in front is going to be an ongoing attempt to resurrect the long-moribund power play. We’ll find out if the Canucks’ strategy continues to work in Game 2 Saturday night.