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Gonchar is in a rush to fit in - Boston Globe
His skills are obvious, bold and tantalizing, but it's going to take some time before we see all of what Sergei Gonchar has to offer, and what it means for the Bruins.
"I would say five, maybe 10 games," said Gonchar, asked how long his transition to full flight will take, following last night's 2-2 tie with the Thrashers on Causeway Street. "But, it's hard to say. Sometimes it can be quicker, but we have enough time before the playoffs."
The postseason is a month away, and the 29-year-old Gonchar is only two games into his Black-and-Gold career. Already, though, his contributions have been impressive. He scored again last night, cruising in low from his defensive post with less than 7 minutes gone in the first period and hammering home a velvety feed from Mike Knuble as the winger swooped behind the net and relayed from the goal line.
Asked why he took the gamble to creep in so low on the set-up, a move few Boston defenseman have been willing or able to make in recent seasons, Gonchar replied, "Because I knew all their guys were paying attention to our forwards. Nobody was even looking at me, so . . . I just tried to find my spot, and he made a great pass, right on my blade, and I had to finish it."
Gonchar scored the final goal, a power-play strike, in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Rangers. His opening goal last night meant the Bruins, for the first time this year, had a defenseman score a goal in two consecutive games. Back in the days of Ray Bourque, that was hardly news, but No. 77 left the Hub of Hockey four years ago yesterday (have you removed your black arm band?). In the time that Bourque has been gone, it has been remarkable for a Bruins defenseman to score two goals in a month. Many of their backliners are challenged to score two in a season.
Now Goal-A-Game Gonchar, his bags barely unpacked, is finding his groove.
"When you see them every day, you learn more about your players," said head coach Mike Sullivan, talking about his get-acquainted period with his new charges, Gonchar and Michael Nylander. "It takes some time to learn what they're capable of, and what their deficiencies are. As a coaching staff we'll get to learn that as we get to spend time with them. But we're well aware of the strengths they bring."
The smooth-skating Gonchar was at his best when ripping home the goal, his ninth this season, his fifth at even strength. But there were awkward moments, too, particularly with 3:22 gone in the third period, just over a minute after the Thrashers tied it, 1-1. Gonchar, paired at the power-play point with Nick Boynton, converged with his partner high in the slot, just inside their offensive blue line. They tangled up like two novices navigating the Big Dig, Serge Aubin broke away, and it took a great right pad save by Andrew Raycroft at the other end to prevent the Thrashers from going ahead, 2-1, on a shorthander.
"Yeah, I didn't see [Boynton]," said Gonchar. "Those are the little things you have to learn with your partner. I've played only two games, I guess that's why that happened. Two games is not enough to have a feel for everyone."
Thursday night, the Bruins got an adrenaline rush from the day-of-game arrivals of Gonchar and Nylander and flashed their best skating game of the year. Some 48 hours later, despite the Gonchar goal for the 1-0 lead, they were back more to the 82-game regular-season life, definitely decaf in comparison to their heady Thursday.
"Our effort tonight was not where it should have been," said second-line pivot Brian Rolston, who made a dazzling rush up left wing to set up the tying, power-play strike by Knuble. "I have no answer for that. We just have to come out better. I don't know the reason; we just didn't have it."
For the record, Gonchar was also on the ice for Knuble's power-play goal, though he didn't factor in the scoring. He has been on the ice for the last three Boston goals. He also logged 27:55 in ice time, the second straight game he has topped that category.
Imagine the minutes he'll post when he's, you know, comfortable. "I skated those minutes in Washington, too," he said. "I'm used to that."
The Bruins have 13 games remaining in the regular season, which probably means only six more overtimes (last night was their league-high 26th OT). Unofficially, its the 13-step program for Gonchar and Nylander to learn who they've got beside them, or behind them, and for everyone in Black-'n'-Gold to learn what might be in front of them starting in April.
"Overall, not a great peformance from us," said Gonchar, offering a final appraisal of his second game in a new city. "We feel we should have grabbed the point, that we gave the point away."
No, not great. But plenty of room for improvement. And still enough time to get there.
Страничка Сергея Гончара на сайте
"Звёзды с Востока"
4 августа. Penguins acquire offensive Gonchar
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
25 июля. Только у нас. Защитник Сергей Гончар: Не
все так плохо, ребята - Советский Спорт
30 октября. Гончар без сознания попал в больницу
8 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Играть за сборную в Евротуре
не буду" // "Спорт-Эсперсс"
4 августа. For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar
- Boston Globe
4 августа. Penguins acquire offensive Gonchar - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
25 июля. Только у нас. Защитник Сергей Гончар: Не все так плохо, ребята - Советский Спорт
30 октября. Гончар без сознания попал в больницу // "Спорт-Экспресс"
8 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Играть за сборную в Евротуре не буду" // "Спорт-Эсперсс"
4 августа. For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar - Boston Globe