Bruins

Zdeno Chara excited for 1,500th NHL game: 'This game has given me so much'

Zdeno Chara excited for 1,500th NHL game: 'This game has given me so much'

It's only fitting that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be skating in his 1,500th NHL game Tuesday night against the B's rival up north in Montreal.

Chara made his NHL debut on Nov. 19, 1997, for the New York Islanders. Nearly 22 years later, the big man has solidified himself as one of the best defenseman in Bruins' history -- and perhaps the NHL. 

The 42-year-old will become the 21st player, and sixth defenseman in NHL history to reach the prestigious 1,500 game mark. The more recent, and only active players to accomplish the feat are San Jose Sharks forwards Patrick Marleau (now at 1,668) and Joe Thornton (1,581). 

With a big night ahead, the captain had some time to reflect on the historic mark -- thanking some very special people.

"It's a lot of games," Chara said, according to BostonBruins.com's Eric Russo. "It's very humbling. It's something that I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life. Obviously, very proud of it too…I have so many people that I should be thanking - obviously starting with my parents. They did such a great job of raising me and so much sacrifice for me to be able to play hockey."

"My family, my wife, my children - there are so many people. I've been very lucky. Very grateful that I've been able to be in the right place at the right time and get to know some very special people along the way."

Chara also had some nice things to say about his teammates and coaches over the years. 

"All of my teammates, coaches…," Chara said, "they've been tremendously helpful, and I wouldn't be playing the game without them. It's a special, special night."

Chara nearly sounds like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when talking about the sport he loves, and it doesn't sound like he plans on walking away from the game any time soon. 

"I'm enjoying playing. I love this game," Chara said. "This game has given me so much. On the ice, obviously, and off the ice. I just enjoy every day, being along with my teammates and going out there and performing. I just love competing and have an extreme passion for the sport."

No. 33, the tallest player in NHL history at 6-foot-9, played 231 games for the Islanders and 299 with the Ottawa Senators before moving on the B's in 2006. He's played a total of 969 regular-season games with Boston. Chara has notched two goals and three assists through 14 games this season and ranks third in plus/minus at plus 13. 

The Bruins and Canadiens take the ice at 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday at Bell Centre in Montreal. 

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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.

 

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

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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.>>>>>>

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