“Honestly, we used to play everybody with everybody,” Chara said. “It's just the way it is right now. We got together and we played together the whole playoffs last year and so we're used to each other and, just like with anybody else, we're just used to each other.”
The most Julien was willing to say is that maybe they will stay together for the rest of the season.
“That'll depend on the teams we're playing against,” he said. “It depends on who's in the lineup, and what players they're playing, who they are, etc. etc. Those are decisions you make almost on a game-to-game basis. But at the same time, you're not going to hide the fact that you like that pairing, especially if both of them are at their best.”
BERGERON BUILDING A GOOD SEASON
Patrice Bergeron is not the flashiest player in the NHL but he is the most reliable.
The Bruins centre has 56 points in 71 games this season, which ranks him 45th in the NHL points race. However, he leads the league in plus-minus with a plus-31 and he is plus-51 over the last two seasons, which is the best mark among forwards. He has also won more faceoffs than anyone else in the NHL this season at 848, which gives him a 58.5-per-cent success rate, good for third in the league.
In Saturday's important 3-2 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, Bergeron had an assist and scored the winning goal in the shootout. “I know as a leader you need to step up in those occasions,” Bergeron said.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien says Bergeron's contributions go beyond what he can do on the ice: “He's a real good team player, good person. He demands a lot, and he expects a lot out of himself. Not only is he a good player, but I don't know that there's that may players that take as good of care of themselves off the ice as he does. He wants to be the hardest-working guy, and those guys end up getting rewarded for that.”
THOMAS IS BACK
Tim Thomas started feeling the heat in January when he skipped the Boston Bruins' visit to the White House but he was squarely on the hot seat through February when his play deteriorated along with that of his team.
But the Bruins goaltender served notice he still is a force to be reckoned with in stopping 27 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers on Saturday. His key save came late in the first period when he stopped Jaromir Jagr on a breakaway, one that came into play in the shootout when Thomas blanked Flyers centre Danny Brière for the win.
“I wasn't feeling unconfident going into [the shootout]” Thomas said. “But the save on Jagr, it did help to boost my confidence more than it already was.
“I think [the win]was very important. We needed that immensely. Things haven't been going our way lately, and that's a polite way of saying it.”
Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara on his team turning things around: “We know what we have. We know the leaders and character we have on this team and it's been a tough few games. We all know that. But there's nothing we can do about them. We just have to look ahead of us and finish really strong, really establish our game again going into the playoffs.”
FIVE GAMES TO WATCH
Maple Leafs at Bruins
Boston broke a four-game losing streak on the weekend by getting back to its tight defence. This game should see if the Bruins are consistent, although they have consistently beaten up Toronto this season. Monday, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario.
Devils at Rangers
New York has a two-game losing streak going and is 4-5-1 in its last 10, as the Pittsburgh Penguins moved within a point of the Eastern Conference leaders with Sidney Crosby back. The Rangers need a win over the Devils to snap out of it. Monday, 7:30 p.m., TSN 2.
Flames at Avalanche
This game is important in the fight for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Colorado was seventh before Sunday's games, while the Flames were three behind them and two behind eighth-place San Jose. Tuesday, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West.
Red Wings at Rangers
This is a tough test for New York, although Detroit has been stumbling lately. The Red Wings have a four-game losing streak and are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., TSN 2.
Jets at Capitals