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Bruins players would face new circumstances in World Cup of Hockey 01.28.15 at 10:39 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

When the return of the World Cup of Hockey was announced over the weekend, it wasn’€™t clear what that meant for the future of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics. One thing, however, was clear: It would not be the same experience as the Olympics.

By the time the tournament rolls around in the fall of 2016, some of the Bruins’€™ participants will be unfamiliar territory. While players like Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) will likely wear the sweaters of their respective countries as usual, other Bruins stars will face different circumstances.

Zdeno Chara has represented Slovakia in three Winter Olympics, but Slovakia is not one of the six countries set to have its own team (United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Sweden). Instead, Chara would qualify to play on Team Europe, which will consist of European players from countries not represented.

Dougie Hamilton, a Toronto native who represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, would actually find himself playing against Canada, as the final team in the tournament will consist of American and Canadian players ages 23 and under. Hamilton, 21, would be 23 at the time of the tournament. No other player on Boston’€™s current roster would qualify for the team, but Malcolm Subban (Toronto) would be an option for the squad, as he’ll be 22 years old.

While children in sports dream about one day representing their countries, few dream about playing on a team called the North American Young Stars. That said, Hamilton would welcome the different opportunity.

“You want to play for your country, obviously,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “It’€™s kind of unique, but I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to play with all those young guys from North America, and at the same time kind of hard to play against Canada. It’€™s kind of hard when you have to play against your own country. I think it’€™s still a long ways away, but something you could look forward to.”

Bergeron, who is well-versed in international play (he’€™s won Gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships in addition to his two Olympic Gold medals), likes the idea of having another squad for younger players, as Canada routinely turns away top talent due to its surplus of star players.

“Definitely [Team Canada] is going to be a tough team to make, and we know there’€™s great young players that are always coming up and don’€™t get a chance to get on either of these teams, US and Canada, but are still great players,” Bergeron said. “It could be a really good team.”

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Zdeno Chara’s hardest shot dominance ends; does he still think he has hardest shot in league? 01.12.15 at 1:16 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara‘s PCL injury cost him 19 games this season. It also weakened what is perhaps the NHL All-Star weekend’s most watchable event.

Given that Chara is not an All-Star this season, he will not participate in the hardest shot competition, which he was won five times in a row from 2007-2012. The NHL has not had an All-Star weekend the last two seasons due to the 2012-13 lockout and the 2014 Winter Olympics, so Chara is still the defending champion in the talent show.

Over the years, Chara set new records in the contest and developed a good rivalry with Nashville’s Shea Weber, who has finished second to Boston’s captain in each of the last three contests. In the last contest, Chara’s shot was clocked at 108.8 mph, the fastest on record to date.

Chara is understanding of why he won’t take part in the contest, as he noted that you need to be an All-Star first, and it would have been hard to make a case for him qualifying.

“Obviously I missed a big chunk of the first half,” he said. “It’s based on the play and performance of the players, and obviously I didn’t play most of it.”

Given that there hasn’t been one of these contests in a couple years and that Chara is now in his age 37-38 season, it would have been interesting to see if Chara’s shot still reigned supreme. Furthermore, Chara is two victories shy of tying wooden stick wonder Al MacInnis for most hardest shot crowns (seven).

Chara’s been able to step into powerful shots at points this season on goals against Buffalo on Oct. 18 and last week in Pittsburgh. Asked whether he felt his shot remains the hardest in the league, Chara thought for three full seconds before answering.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a different thing doing the shots during the game and when you have to skate into it and wind up. I assume I could be up there, but a lot of guys have hard shots.”

Chara won’t win this season, but given that a healthy Chara should be an automatic All-Star, perhaps he’ll return to the contest in the coming seasons.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I think it was exciting for fans; it was exciting for players. We always made it kind of interesting with different players and it was always a bit hyped before the contest.”

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For Zdeno Chara, B’s ‘not there yet’ but moving in right direction 01.09.15 at 11:05 am ET
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As Claude Julien suggested after Thursday’s 3-0 victory over the Devils, the Bruins are still not the team they need to be but the ship is at least sailing in calmer waters after a second straight win.

The captain agrees.

Zdeno Chara was on the ice for one of the biggest moments of the game, setting up a screen in front on Milan Lucic‘s power play goal late in the first period as the Bruins finally capitalized on the chances the Devils were giving Boston in the opening 20 minutes.

“We made another step forward,” Chara said. “We’€™re not there yet we just got to continue to work really hard and stay on top of our game.”

For as rough as the Bruins have looked, Thursday’s win improves them to 21-15-6, good for 48 points and the eighth and final playoff spot in the East (as the second wild card). But step back and the players can see they’re only six points behind first-place Montreal in the Northeast. All is not lost. But after two straight wins, Chara isn’t focused so much on the standings as the method at this point, halfway through the season.

“It’€™s nice that you’€™re winning games now [but] we are not over the hump, we know that,” Chara said. “We won two games and we have a tough schedule before the All-Star break. We want to continue to play the way we’€™ve been playing the last two games and finish strong before the break. You can sense that the team is regaining the play and what we’€™re used to so, like I said, we have to stay on top of that.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Zdeno Chara knows win shows how Bruins have to play ‘pretty much for the rest of the season’ 12.30.14 at 7:48 am ET
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The Bruins put themselves in this position. Now, they have to get themselves out of it.

But the good news, according to captain Zdeno Chara, is that Monday’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings proves they have it in them.

“Yeah, that was a great example of how we have to play, pretty much for the rest of the season it’€™s pretty simple,” Chara said. “We had the right attitude and right approach right from the first drop of the puck. Even they put some pressure on us, especially in the second [period] when they got some power plays going, but I thought we handled it well.

“Our young guys really stepped up, our veteran guys were obviously leading the way but I think it’€™s a great example of how we need to be. Everybody worked really hard, everybody was doing what they were supposed to do and we got good results.”

The Bruins, who entered the game with 39 points and in 10th place in the East, fired 45 shots on Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings defense that came in allowing the fewest shots on goal of any team in the NHL.

Without top-six forwards Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins finally showed a sense of urgency and self-motivation.

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5 things we learned as Bruins get Zdeno Chara back, fall to Blackhawks 12.11.14 at 9:41 pm ET
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The Bruins got their captain back Thursday and, for a couple of periods, began to look like their old selves.

Sure, they lost to the Blackhawks (box), but their old selves used to do that, too. The B’€™s push in the second and third periods brought them back from a 3-0 hole. If there is to be a turnaround for the Bruins this season, Chris Kelly fighting Andrew Shaw after Torey Krug’€™s goal in the third period might be a moment looked back on down the road. Boston held Chicago to two shots on goal in the third period.

It wasn’t the prettiest night for Chara, who was playing in his first game since Oct. 28. It could have been uglier, as a defensive-zone giveaway to Marian Hossa in the first period was negated by a Tuukka Rask kick save.

Chara took a pair of penalties, first hooking Brandon Saad in the first period and then sending the puck over the glass in the defensive zone during a second period Blackhawks power play to give Chicago a five-on-three.

David Krejci did not play. He has been limited to just 11 games this season.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

B’€™S DEPTH NO MATCH FOR CHICAGO

Though Thursday marked the return of Boston’€™s best player, it was the bottom of the B’s roster that failed them in the first period.

Playing against Chicago’€™s fourth line, Boston’€™s bottom-six forwards and third defensive pairing allowed a pair of goals.

Boston College product Ben Smith turned in a monster of a play on the first goal in outbattling Gregory Campbell for a puck behind the net. Campbell knocked Smith down, but Smith got up with Campbell still in coverage, kicked the puck to himself and skated free before sending a shot to the top of the left circle that Klas Dahlbeck buried past Tuukka Rask.

On Chicago’€™s second goal, a Blackhawks pass from the corner went off Seth Griffith’€™s stick and on net, with Smith jumping on the rebound and scoring.

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Zdeno Chara expected to return vs. Blackhawks, Bruins not counting on David Krejci at 11:36 am ET
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Zdeno Chara is expected to return to the lineup for the Bruins Thursday against the Blackhawks, while it appears David Krejci will not.

Chara, who has not played since tearing his PCL on Oct. 23, left Thursday’€™s morning skate with the rest of the regulars, while Krejci stayed out extra with anticipated healthy scratches Joe Morrow and Matt Bartkowski.

Chara was taken off injured reserve Thursday, while Krejci remained on it as of early Thursday afternoon.

“Not officially, but I’€™m counting on [Chara],” Claude Julien said. “Krejci, nobody’€™s told me anything yet, so unless somebody tells me something after this morning skate, I’€™m not going to count on him. If they tell me he’€™s ready to go, then he’€™ll be in.”

Craig Cunningham was on the ice for Thursday’€™s skate after being recalled Wednesday. Assuming Krejci does not play, the Bruins will not have any extra forwards, meaning Cunningham would be in the lineup.

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in morning skate, indicating he will start in goal against Chicago.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Simon Gagne on personal leave, Zdeno Chara could return Thursday for Bruins 12.09.14 at 12:23 pm ET
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Both Zdeno Chara and David Krejci practiced Tuesday as the Bruins returned to TD Garden. Chara could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday against the Blackhawks, while Claude Julien said Krejci is still a bit behind.

“Krejci hasn’€™t been cleared to play yet. They’€™ve both been cleared for practice,” Claude Julien said. “Right now, I can say I feel more optimistic about Zee right now, that he will. I don’€™t know about David.”

Simon Gagne is on a personal leave of absence, Julien said. Gagne was not at practice, with Julien saying the Bruins “don’€™t know” how long Gagne’€™s leave will be. Gagne’€™s skates and belongings were still in his stall during media availability following practice.

Carl Soderberg and Daniel Paille were also absent from practice due to a virus, while David Warsofsky practiced with the team for the first time since suffering a groin strain last month. According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Adam McQuaid skated prior to practice.

With so many players on offense missing, Loui Eriksson skated on Krejci’€™s line. Julien said afterwards that Eriksson’€™s placement in practice was strictly because of the lack of forwards.

“€œI had to just throw guys together because we were short today,”€ Julien said.

The lines and defensive pairings were as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Eriksson
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Bottom-six: Campbell, Fraser, Kelly, Griffith

Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Miller
Krug – Trotman
Warsofsky, Bartkowski, Morrow

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Simon Gagne, Zdeno Chara,
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