Bruins

Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara was one of the biggest stories of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final for the Boston Bruins. In Game 4, Chara suffered a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Despite that, he came back to play in Games 5-7 and did everything he could to help the Boston Bruins win.

Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn't come through. They dropped Game 7 of the Cup Final and the St. Louis Bruins became the NHL champions. It was a disappointing end to the season, but it certainly didn't take away from Chara's warrior-like performance that topped the Bruins' laundry list of injuries.

On Sunday, Chara took to Instagram to thank the Bruins fans for their support during the team's playoff run and ended the post with a strong message: "We will be back..."

View this post on Instagram

It’s been only few days, but I can still hear the overwhelming cheers and applause from our fans. I knew we had the best fans ,but I didn’t realized how special and remarkable you are till I stood in front of you before Game 5.It was an unbelievable experience to have your support. I couldn’t help to fight back tears, but so happy to respond to adversity and be there with my teammates. It was unbelievable feeling of pride and honor to be a Bostonian. We as Bruins fell short of our team goal, but we’re so grateful that we made you proud.This group of players and coaches are very special.I can’t say enough about how many times our team responded the right way to adversity and embrace the challenges. We believe in hard work.We treat each other equally and with respect.We trust each other and depend on each other, but mostly we love to play for this community. On behalf of all of the players and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of our fans for your support and loyalty this year. We never could have made it this far without you. We will be back...

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

This was a great gesture by the 42-year-old captain and long-time Bruin. It's no surprise that he acknowledged the fan support and in particular, the rousing applause he got before playing in Game 5 with the broken jaw. He truly loves the Boston and fans, and the feeling is mutual.

Chara will return to the Bruins for at least one more season in 2020. He signed a one-year, $2 million extension midway through last season and will try to help the Bruins go on another deep playoff run in 2020.

HAGGERTY: Don't fall in love with this Bruins team>>>

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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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David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

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USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

The shootout is a problem for the Boston Bruins, and already this season it has cost them three points. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but in a very competitive Atlantic Division that's shaping up to include five playoff-caliber teams, those points are quite valuable.

The Bruins blew a four-goal third-period lead Tuesday night and ultimately lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Charlie Coyle extended the shootout with a third-round goal, but it's Boston's only tally in 11 shootout attempts this season. Only three of the 26 teams that have taken part in at least one shootout have a worst shooting percentage than Boston. 

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy's shootout lineup was a real head-scratcher. Here's a look at the skaters chosen:

Chris Wagner: No goal
Brad Marchand: No goal
Charlie Coyle: Goal
Charlie McAvoy: No goal

The lack of speed and creativity with the puck made Panthers goalie Sam Montembeault's job too easy. Take a look for yourself in the highlights below:

The most curious absence from the above list is David Pastrnak, who leads the league with 16 goals and is tied for second place in scoring with 31 points. Pastrnak is just 3-for-19 in shootouts for his career, but despite this lack of success, he absolutely should be one of the first two shooters in this format, especially when the opposing team has its backup goalie in net, as was the case Wednesday night. The most talented players should be on the ice with the game on the line, and Pastrnak is without question the B's most skilled offensive player. 

Cassidy explained after why Pastrnak wasn't involved in his team's latest shootout loss.

"(Bruins goalie coach) Bob (Essensa) has information on that," Cassidy told reporters. "One thing Bob suggested -- we were going to use Wagner. There was maybe more shooters than dekers against this goalie coming in, but Charlie (Coyle) scored in the shootout shooting. You know, we put Coyle in and recommended shooting. Pasta tends to like to deke, so that’s why we went away from him. He’s been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish. Charlie McAvoy definitely has but didn’t happen."

Pastrnak has shot in two of the three shootouts this season. Jake DeBrusk has taken part in only one. David Krejci didn't shoot in the one game he's played in that ended with a shootout. Patrice Bergeron has zero shootout attempts despite scoring 70 goals over his last 147 games. Bergeron's nine shootout goals are tied for the team lead with Marchand since the beginning of 2012-13. Even defenseman Zdeno Chara deserves a look in the shootout with his powerful slap shot.

Let's be clear: shootouts aren't a new problem for the Bruins.

They actually ranked as the third-best shootout team during the 2011-12 season with 19 goals on 38 attempts, but it's been all downhill since then. The Bruins are dead last in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage (49-for-237) in shootouts over the last eight seasons, including the current campaign.

We can complain all day about the shootout and say it's a gimmick, and that might be true, but the fact remains it's a very important part of today's NHL. The Bruins' lack of success in the shootout won't hurt them in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it could end up costing them the most desirable seed if the current trend isn't reversed soon. Consistently putting the most skilled offensive players on the ice would be a good way to remedy the situation.

Joe Haggerty: The root causes of this alarming Bruins skid>>>

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