Zdeno Chara

Match-up to watch: Zdeno Chara vs. Johan Franzen

It might be obvious to have this be our match-up to watch during this afternoon’s Thanksgiving Showdown but with the way Zdeno Chara plays defense and how Johan Franzen has been finding the net this season, today’s game could hinge on how these two deal with each other.

Chara has been an absolute force on the blue line this season. In the team’s toughest games he’s logging the most minutes and there’s never a game that goes by that doesn’t see him trying to wrangle the opposition’s top line. Sure, Chara is known for his imposing presence and big slap shot, but his ability to rein in the biggest goal scorers in the league is what makes him a perennial Norris Trophy finalist.

source: Getty Images

Seeing Chara have to get a handle on Johan Franzen, however, presents a different brand of challenge. Franzen can beat defenses in a variety of ways. He can hang around the goal and try to be a menace to both defensemen and goalies with his physical presence. Franzen can also hang around the slot and snipe shots that find even the smallest of openings through a goalie and make defenses look bad for even giving him that much time.

With Franzen going into today’s game leading the Red Wings in scoring (10 goals, 11 assists), expect to see Bruins coach Claude Julien to put Chara out there to try and limit his opportunities. Trying to deal with the Red Wings presents plenty of problems for a coach to try and defend correctly against them, but with Chara you can bank on him to dominate more often than not who he’s put against.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.