Bruins

Morning Skate 39: A Chara suspension proves nothing

Morning Skate 39: A Chara suspension proves nothing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
MONTREAL There isnt a lot of precedentforthis gruesome Zdeno CharaMax Pacioretty incident from Tuesday nights game, and it appears theres going to be some vociferous disagreement no matter what theNHLdoes.Chara and Pacioretty have been locked in a dangerous dance for much of this season that reaches back to the young Habs forward shoving the enraged, towering Bs Captain after an overtime win for the Canadiens in Montreal two months ago and that painful tangohad a gruesome ending on the Bell Centre ice in Bostons 4-1 loss Tuesday night.Chara shoved Pacioretty near the Bruins bench with an extended forearm, and sent the wobblyHabs forward flying into nearby stanchion in an area thats always been a danger zone for high-flying, fast-skating hockey players.The gruesome, gasp-worthy crashleft Pacioretty unconscious and unmoved on the ice for 10 minutes before he was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher, and Habs officials said Wednesday morning their player has suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced C5 fracture of his vertebrae from the collision.Its clearly a serious injury and could be career-threatening given the gravity of any injury dealing with the neck and spine, and that can be a factor in the supplemental discipline decisions made by the NHL and Assistant Director of Game Operations Mike Murphy.But there are so many other factors that the league has to mix into the pot before making a complex, controversial decision. What was Zdeno Charas intent and how much of the hits aftermath was simply a result of the games speed and intensity?Chara has been suspended for a grand total of one game in a long, All-Star career spanning 913gamesfor the Ottawa Senators and Bruins, and boaststhe kind of Irish Spring clean whistle record the NHL always looks favorably upon. He simply isnt a dirty player despite whats being muttered about the 6-foot-9 monster along the snowylengths ofRue de St. Catherine this morning.At the end of the day it was an interference call against Chara, and was nowhere near the realm of elbowing, head shots, boarding, hitting from behind or any otherdastardlyinfractions thatreside as hot button actions within todays NHL. No one can peerinto the mind of Chara to deduce whether his actions were the perfectly evil hit at the exact wrong time near the treacherous stanchion area, but his body of work over a starry career would say completely the opposite. They would instead proveChara was playing the body to slow Pacioretty down from flying into the offensive zone with the puck, and it was the wrong place at the wrong time.What happens if Chara simply lets the player go, and he scores another goal at the end of the second period in a game that's already reached "bowser" category.If the NHL doesnt want hitting near the danger areas near the benches perhapsthere should be black-and-yellow police tape or a plastic bubble around the bench area prohibiting physical contact anywhere near them. A suspension or disciplinary action against Chara when it was simply an accident of circumstance does nothing to prevent it from happening again and it certainly isnt going to help Pacioretty in his long road to recuperation in Montreal.The bottom line is this: the NHL cant prove mal intent, the league is always going to rule in favor of their star players that adhere to the proper rules of conduct and safety in the NHL and there will always be violence and regrettableinjuries within the game of hockey.There is no way Chara wanted to break Paciorettys neck or seriously physically impair him, and knew that would happen after an otherwise pedestrian one-on-one battle for the puck on a simple interference call. There's no evidence to support either supposition.Things happen in the NHL, and this was one of those regrettable, unfortunate accidents that can transpirewhen big strong bodies tangle in the wrong part of the frozen sheet. A suspension would assign blame to Chara when there doesnt need to be any, and would send the wrong kind of message.Fans all over the NHL should focus their energy and thoughts on hoping that Pacioretty makes a full recovery and plays hockey again as Erik Cole did after fracturing his vertebrae with the Carolina Hurricanes. The passionate, frothy calls for suspensions and justice simply dont apply this time around with Chara.On to the links:Mike Milbury thinks that time may be running out on Sidney Crosby, and everyone Ive talked to about Sid the Kid has said the exact same thing.Adam Kaufman chats with Trent Whitfield, who has recovered from an Achilles tendon injury to have an excellent season for the Providence Bruins.Want the story about how Alex Ovechkin made his way back to the world of Twitter? Well here it is.TSNs Bob McKenzie knocked it out of the park in his assessment of the Zdeno CharaMax Pacioretty hit from last night, and deserves a little link love and appreciation.SI.coms Michael Farber sends a love letter to Pittsburgh Penguins hatchet man Matt Cooke. Wonder if he felt the need for a long, hot shower after writing this piece?\

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.