Bruins

Chara praises 'very classy' Habs fans' for ovation in his 1,500th NHL game

zdeno-chara-boston-bruins-vs-canadiens-110519.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photo

Chara praises 'very classy' Habs fans' for ovation in his 1,500th NHL game

MONTREAL – It wasn’t surprising that the first-class Montreal Canadiens organization opted to acknowledge Bruins captain Zdeno Chara playing in his 1500th NHL game on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Any player getting to 1,500 games played is worthy of recognition and Chara is just the sixth NHL defensemen in league history to get to that mark, with only Nicklas Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens and Chris Chelios still ahead of him on the all-time list. When Chara popped up on the jumbotron with the 1,500 games played graphic, there was a smattering of boos with the cheers for a player that has routinely been booed at the Bell Centre during the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry.

But it quickly became a loud, long ovation from Canadiens fans with Chara standing up at the Bruins bench, waving, clapping to the fans and mouthing the words “thank you” during the TV timeout.

It was a remarkable, meaningful moment given how much bad blood has gone on between Chara and Canadiens fans in his career, and it was duly noted by the Bruins captain following Boston’s 5-4 loss.

“Obviously, that felt really nice. I really appreciated it and it was very classy,” said Chara. “It’s something that I will definitely remember. [The boos in the past] just shows that they are very passionate fans and they support their team. It’s pretty normal for Canadien fans to show so much support for their team. We’ve had some good battles and it’s a good rivalry. There’s a lot of history with both teams, so it’s always fun to play in these games.”

It was a short eight years ago when Chara knocked Max Pacioretty into the stanchion at the Bell Centre and caused a massive uproar with Habs fans that flooded Quebec 911 lines calling for his arrest for assaulting the Montreal forward. That was probably the height of his role as a villain in the rivalry and led to him getting booed lustily each time he touched the puck for years after that. 

Clearly, that’s now water under the bridge with Chara’s career on track for the Hall of Fame once he decides to stop playing, and milestones like the 1,500 games played coming with more regularity as he keeps on going at 42 years old. Chara’s teammates and the Bruins coaching staff have obviously been in awe of his longevity for a while and were happy that the knowledgeable Habs fans showed their respect for his 20-plus year career as well.

“I thought it was great…classy,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Listen, this is one of the Original Six right here and they’ve got a lot of classy fans in Montreal. Just because it’s a Bruins/Habs rivalry and if they like the Canadiens it doesn’t mean I dislike their fans. They’re good people and they know hockey, so I was glad to see it.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

 

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

BOSTON – There’s no denying the single biggest common thread through the Bruins' four-game losing streak.

The same Tuukka Rask that was brilliant in the first month of the season has hit a rough patch in November and that tough stretch continued as he coughed up four goals in the third period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Rask is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in four November starts and played a starring role as a liability in losses to Montreal and Florida the past week. It was Rask who was beaten in the first minute of the third period on a long-distance Aaron Ekblad shot where the goaltender admitted he was too deep in the net and it was Rask who didn’t shut off the post on Florida’s third goal scored by Mike Hoffman as Florida was storming back in the final 20 minutes.

“I should have been sharper in that third period,” lamented Rask. “There were a couple of soft goals and I let [the Panthers] kind of get some momentum. It’s a 60-minute game and we’ve been on the other side of it.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as the three soft goals he gave up that all clanged off his glove hand last week in Montreal, but it was far from vintage Rask at a time when a few different things are going wrong for the Bruins. Rask is still top five with a 2.16 GAA and eighth in the league with a .926 save percentage, but it’s a far cry from the .951 save percentage he racked up in 10 games in a red-hot October.

Clearly, Rask is going through the same kind of tough stretch that used to greet him the first month of the season, but this time, it’s hitting him after a brief, dominant stretch out of the starting gate. Perhaps the Bruins coaching staff will get a quicker hook with Rask the next time he shows signs of trouble as in the losses against Montreal and Florida, or Jaroslav Halak will be used with a little more frequency until Rask works out the kinks in his game.

At least the B’s No. 1 goaltender isn’t under any illusions about the way he’s played the past few games.

“In Montreal, I sucked. In Detroit, I felt okay. Today, in the last period there were a couple of soft goals, so I can’t be too satisfied,” said Rask. “But, hey, there’s a lot of hockey left.”

While it’s refreshing to hear the kind of accountability  Rask is putting out there, the Bruins aren’t going to go very far if Rask is talking too much about sucking and giving up soft goals. The B’s better hope that their top goalie gets locked back in pretty quickly so both the team and Rask can leave their early-season mini-slumps behind in the rear-view mirror.

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

spark_nhl_power_rankings_111319.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.