< Back to front page Text size +

Defensemen wrap

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  April 18, 2007 12:20 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Zdeno Chara

2006-07: Set the tone in preseason when he hit the deck to block a Sheldon Souray slapper during a five-on-three penalty kill. It was one of few highlights... Was dominant at times, shutting down Alex Ovechkin during showdowns against Washington, but couldn't sustain a consistent performance level against all opponents, making simple mistakes -- giveaways and missed assignments -- at critical times... Unacceptable: zero fights... Was clocked with hardest shot during All-Star Game skills competition, but didn't take advantage of his bomb on the power play, taking too long to wind up and fire... Logged big-time minutes as usual, showing his superior fitness level... Was slowed by a middle-body injury that might have affected his physical play... Not the kind of season a first-year captain making $7.5 million wanted to have.

2007-08: Dave Lewis pledged that he'll be playing his "old game" next season. As Lewis likes to say, show me... Needs to score at least one fight, as much to open his teammates' eyes as to gain some approval with fans... Might be better used down low on the power play, where defensemen -- especially with new rules -- can't move him out of the way. Not that they were able to move him before... Will probably play the left side, where Lewis think he's most effective.

Dennis Wideman

2006-07: In a surprise move, was acquired for Brad Boyes at the trade deadline, informed of the deal after a pregame nap prior to a St. Louis game... Often showed that he is what he is -- a young defenseman still learning the NHL ropes... Can skate, move the puck, and join the rush, which makes him an anomaly in Lewis's stay-at-home system... Quarterbacked the No. 2 power-play unit... Is a restricted free agent.

2007-08: Must shore up his defensive game and not get caught out of position like he did too often... Another of the many Bruins who needs to increase his physical play... Will look to prove that he's an upgrade over Matt Lashoff, who has a similar skill set... Could be employed as No. 1 PP quarterback if Chara is stationed down low.

Aaron Ward

2006-07: Obtained for Paul Mara at the trade deadline... Is one of the game's best shot-blockers, a trait Lewis holds in high regard... Was often paired with Chara, although he shouldn't be considered a No. 2 defenseman -- more like a No. 4... A vocal presence on the ice and in the dressing room.

2007-08: Will be an unrestricted free agent heading into 2008-09, so will be playing for what could be his final multi-year contract... With two months under his belt as a Bruin, will be looked at as one of the leaders of the club... Should be a good fit if he plays his defense-first game, blocks shots, increases his hitting, and maintains his presence in the room.

Andrew Ference

2006-07: Obtained in the Brad Stuart/Wayne Primeau deal along with Chuck Kobasew... Nothing flashy, just a steady defenseman who got his points off tip-ins and garbage goals by forwards... Wasn't afraid to call out teammates (although not by name), especially after 7-0 thumping against the Rangers... Missed two games because of an injured right hand... Played physical and got into an early scrap after the trade.

2007-08: Should be a second-pair defenseman who'll get PK time and shifts with the No. 2 PP unit... If he isn't noticed, means he's doing his job... Still young, so should see some development in his game... One of the stronger characters who should command respect from younger players.

Andrew Alberts

2006-07: Looked like a force at times, using his size and skating to become the team's hardest hitter, especially when paired with Chara... Suffered from shoulder and hamstring injuries, which might have led to his inconsistent play... Wasn't as physical in second half of season, which might be explained by injuries and dip in confidence... Still played most of the season without a visor despite some near-misses (puck and stick) to his eye... Wasn't afraid to stand up for himself when other tough guys came calling, but as a former college player, his lack of fighting experience showed... Will compete in World Championships later this month... Is a restricted free agent.

2007-08: Needs to level out his play and be consistent throughout the season... Although certainly not an offensive defenseman, would be nice for him to chip in a few goals... Can change the tone of a game with his hits along the boards, but needs to be just as tough when the gloves drop.

Jason York

2006-07: Considered by Lewis to be a calming presence, especially for younger players... Good at clearing the zone and getting pucks out of harm's way... Age and knee injuries led to too many opposing forwards blowing his doors off and creating odd-man situations in danger areas... Bigger forwards gave him problems... Scored his only goal of the season against Toronto... One of the good guys who was always willing to explain plays and spin war stories, often in a humorous fashion.

2007-08: Is an unrestricted free agent and will most likely not be back with team... Believes he can play in the NHL because of his skating ability... If no playing jobs open up, will look to start his second career, which he hopes will land him in the broadcasting booth as a color commentator in the NHL.

Bobby Allen

2006-07: Broke out after being a career AHLer, opening Lewis's eyes with his calmness and ability to make crisp first passes... Played his role -- fifth or sixth defenseman -- almost perfectly, not taking chances but also not making mistakes... Was paired with Chara for several games, pushing up his minutes played.

2007-08: Is an unrestricted free agent, but should have won an NHL job based on his 2006-07 performance... Could be brought back to Boston as a depth defenseman... As expected, doesn't have much desire to return to the AHL.

Matt Lashoff

2006-07: During his first call-up, was paired with Chara and fit right in for several games... Showed plus skating ability and had no hesitation in joining the rush... Fell off after several games and showed rookie mistakes of poor positioning and decision-making with the puck.

2007-08: Might be best to play a second full year in Providence, where he can develop the defensive side of his game... Should continue to make quick outlet passes and join the rush, not carry the puck out of his zone... Could be a trading chip for teams seeking young, offensive-thinking defensemen.

Mark Stuart

2006-07: Was several months behind after undergoing offseason knee surgery, which knocked him out of training camp... As a result, fell off the development curve... Was mean, nasty, and physical in the AHL, but was hesitant to display those traits in first call-up to Boston... Played much better during his final promotion and showed he'll be in the mix next season.

2007-08: Should break camp with Boston if he stays injury-free and plays his game, which is defense first and being physical... Could be a good partner for Chara, which might be a solid pairing against opponents' top lines.

News, analysis and commentary from the following Boston Globe writers:

NHL video


browse this blog

by category