|Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish||03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET|
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|Zdeno Chara appreciates the ‘nice gesture’ of Max Pacioretty||03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|Brad Boyes burns Bruins in overtime||at 9:48 pm ET|
A couple of players with Boston ties burned the B’s in overtime, as former Bruin Brad Boyes took a pass from BC product Nathan Gerbe to beat Tim Thomas for a 4-3 Sabres win with 1:16 remaining.
Zdeno Chara, who has been a popular topic of discussion in the last two days, had two assists for the B’s, who have now gone three games without a win (0-1-2).
The Sabres received their regulation scoring from Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 42 saves in the victory.
The Bruins will follow Thursday’s loss by heading to Long Island for a bout with the Islanders.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Sabres had two separate two-man advantages on the night, and the B’s were only able to kill off the first one, which lasted 30 seconds in the second period.
The second one proved more challenging. With Mark Recchi already in the box for high-sticking, Brad Marchand was the victim of a bad (and late) tripping call. The Sabres had 1:44 of a 5-on-3 to deal with, and Tim Connolly put home a rebound with 20 seconds remaining on Recchi’s penalty.
The Sabres would go 2-for-7 on the power play on the night, as Vanek’s goal came with Johnny Boychuk in the box in the second period.
– The Bruins blew a two different leads, one of which was of two-gaol variety. With the B’s leading, 2-0, in the second, Ennis scored just 27 seconds after Recchi’s goal, and Vanek made it a tie game about eight minutes later. Less than minutes after Campbell gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead, Connolly returned the game to a tie.
– The B’s had just seven shots on goal in both the second and third periods after having 15 in the first. Shots on goal can be an overrated statistic at times, but its easy to blow leads when you’re not getting pucks to the net.
– While Chara’s production was strong in the game, he was the recipient of a very questionable boarding call on Steve Montador. What will this mean to the criminal investigation?
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The David Krejci line remains red hot. Both Milan Lucic and Krejci have 13 points in their last 10 games, as well as four-game point-streaks. Horton, meanwhile, has five goals in his last nine games. The Bruins will need their top line producing like this come the playoffs, so their stellar play and production over the last few weeks is a very good sign.
– It was a good debut production-wise for the new line of Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Recchi scored his first goal in nine games, a tally that was assisted by Ryder, but that Chara largely set up with an aggressive pinch down low.
– Timely scoring from Gregory Campbell this season, as he came up big back in November to send the game vs. the Blues to overtime. The Merlot Line center’s 10th of the season was a big one as well, as it gave the B’s the lead in the third.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke to the media Thursday morning, doing so for the first time since learning that he would not be suspended for his hit that left Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty hospitalized with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrea. Following the ruling, Pacioretty lashed out to TSN, saying the he was “disgusted” that Chara, who he felt intended to injure him, was not punished.
“I mean, I totally understand,” Chara said of Pacioretty’s reaction to the ruling. “He’s in the hospital, so he’s got the right to be emotional, and I respect that. I obviously feel bad that he got hurt. As a player, as a hockey player, we all feel bad when something like that happens. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the home team or the visiting team.
“Obviously I’m wishing him a fast recovery, and hopefully he can be back on the ice soon. That’s all we’ll have to do. We play hockey. Obviously when we go out there, we take risk, and sometimes we do get hurt. It’s just very unfortunate.”
One reason that Chara has been put in such a negative light over the play is because of his history with Pacioretty. The B’s captain got tangled up with the Habs forward in each of the team’s previous meetings, as Pacioretty shoved Chara after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime on Jan. 8 and jumped Chara’s defensive partner in Steven Kampfer on Feb. 9. Chara insisted Thursday that he didn’t even know it was Pacioretty when he hit him.
“It was the face-off, and we tried to set up a play, and basically the puck went to the other side, and we were racing for the puck,” Chara said. “I had no idea he was on the ice. I had no idea it was him.”
Chara also touched on the possibility of a criminal charges, as Montreal police have launched an investigation.
“I got some media information on that this morning, but right now I’m focusing on my game and playing hockey,” he said. “We’ll see.”
When it comes to the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, there usually isn’t a fence on which to sit. You’re either all black and gold all the time, or you live for the Habs.
Yet it in the days following Zdeno Chara‘s hit on Max Pacioretty, Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer has both parties in mind. A college teammate of Pacioretty’s, Kampfer reached out to Alec Schall, who represents both players.
“I’ve talked to our agent. I was on the phone with my agent after the hit, just trying to see what the feeling was, if he had talked to his parents,” Kampfer said Thursday.
“You feel bad for him, especially knowing him and knowing Zee. I feel bad for both of them because of the whole situation. From what I’ve heard, Max is doing very well, better than anticipated, so I’m happy to hear that for him.”
It wasn’t long ago that both Kampfer and Pacioretty were using Schall as a mediator as they vented frustrations from an incident on Feb. 9. After Brad Marchand hit James Wisniewski after a whistle, Pacioretty jumped Kampfer, which left the B’s defenseman frustrated with his former teammate after the game. That’s been forgotten, Kampfer said Thursday, and even shared that he had entertained the idea of making Pacioretty the opponent in his still-non-existent first NHL fight.
“The thing — I guess we both kind of left it out — we had talked about it before the game, if we were ever in a situation like that, then we’d go. I just didn’t think he’d horse-caller me to go,” Kampfer said with a laugh.
Kampfer, caught of guard by the play, had Chara come to his defense following the play, and it stands as one of two notable encounters that Chara has had with Pacioretty this season.
“I think when somebody sees something like that, obviously Zee’s going to jump in, but at the same time, he’s a good player,” Kampfer said of the incident and Pacioretty. “I think he’s going to be a great player later in his career, but right now, we all hope and pray that he’s going to get better. Slowly but surely he’ll get back on the ice.”
Kampfer, who noted that Pacioretty has been considered a “celebrity” in the hospital after the hit left him severely concussed and with a fractured vertebrae, wants to stay in touch with Pacioretty as he tries to make a return to the ice. The B’s blueliner is no stranger to having to make a tough recovery, as he cracked his skull when he was assaulted by a football player at Michigan and was attacked by two Michigan State players on the ice three months later.
Still, given his relationship with Chara, who has taken an interest in the youngster’s development since he was called up in December, Kampfer admits that he is “torn.”
“You feel for both parties. You feel for Zee, and you feel for Max. It’s a tough situation there, and at the same time, you don’t ever want to see a player get hurt, especially in a hockey game and especially to the severity of that happening to him. You can say you’re torn.
“I’ve gone through it. I know what it’s like to have an injury like that, so it’s like I told our agent. I’ll be the first one to talk to Max if he wants to talk because I’ve gone through this before. I can definitely give him some pointers along the way of what he’s going to expect and what he’s going to encounter. At the same time I support Zee. He’s essentially my mentor and I’m learning a lot of things from him. I believe what he said is what happened.”
|Max Pacioretty ‘disgusted’ league didn’t suspend Zdeno Chara||03.09.11 at 10:30 pm ET|
An upset Max Pacioretty spoke to TSN’s Bob McKenzie Wednesday night, doing little to hide his feelings a day after a Zdeno Chara hit into a stanchion along the boards left him with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.
“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him,” Pacioretty told McKenzie. “I not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.
“It’s been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I’ve got a fractured vertebrae, I’m in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know, one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”
Chara said both after the game and after Wednesday’s practice that he did not intend to hurt the 22-year-old forward, and that the fact that he went into the turnbuckle was “very, very, very unfortunate.” Pacioretty isn’t buying it.
“I heard (Chara) said he didn’t mean to do it,” Pacioretty told TSN. “I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he’s talking about how I jumped up or something.
“I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn’t a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle.”
|Canadiens fans call for Zdeno Chara’s arrest, Air Canada threatens to withdraw sponsorship||at 7:11 pm ET|
Canadiens fans have a hard time being taken seriously in Boston, and they’ve really hurt their case this time.
According to the Canadian Press, Montreal police have been ‘inundated’ with phone calls demanding Bruins captain Zdeno Chara‘s arrest. Chara was not suspended Wednesday after his hit on Max Pacioretty sent the Canadiens forward into a stanchion and left him with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae.
The calls reportedly began coming in heavily in the minutes following the league’s ruling to not suspend the Bruins’ captain. The police have requested the fans stop.
Meanwhile, in a matter to be taken a bit more seriously, Air Canada has reacted to the hit by threatening to withdraw its sponsorship if the league doesn’t take “immediate” and “serious” action against head shots.
Director of Marketing and Communications Denis Vandal sent what the Toronto Sun called a “strongly worded letter” to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality,” Vandal wrote.
“Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey.”
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