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Bruins can blame Zdeno Chara if Henrik Zetterberg helps Red Wings beat Bruins

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Zdeno Chara (left) and Henrik Zetterberg remain friendly off the ice, but that may be on pause this week. (Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

Zdeno Chara (left) and Henrik Zetterberg are friendly off the ice, but that may be on pause this week. (Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

Henrik Zetterberg is closing in on a return to action after more than two months on the sidelines, just when his Detroit teammates need him the most.

But if he comes back in time to help the Red Wings knock off the heavily favored Bruins in their first-round playoff series, Boston fans will have to vent their rage toward one of their own:

Team captain Zdeno Chara.

Turns out that Big Z felt sorry for Zetty when the Swedish star was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after just one game with back pain so severe that it required immediate surgery.

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  • Published On Apr 15, 2014
  • VIDEO: Zdeno Chara’s slapshot takes off goalie’s head in new Warrior stick ad

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    By Nick Stoico

    It’s no secret that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has the hardest slap shot in the NHL.  At the 2012 NHL All-Star Skills Competition, it was clocked at a record-breaking 108.8 MPH, certifying that his wind-up is a warning to duck and cover. Some may even to go as far as to say that the Slovakian’s slapper can be deadly for anyone who gets in the way of it, no matter how much gear they’re wearing.

    In new ads for Warrior’s new Dynasty one-piece hockey stick, we get a glimpse of just how dangerous Chara’s shot can be:

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  • Published On Mar 13, 2014
  • Bruins to let Zdeno Chara leave early to carry flag in Sochi Olympic ceremony

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    By Allan Muir

    Zdeno Chara’s Olympic break just got a little longer.

    It was confirmed today that the Bruins’ captain has been named as the Slovakian flag bearer at next month’s Olympic opening ceremonies, and he’ll be attending with the full blessings of his NHL team.

    “When you look at what Z has done for this club, I think it’s an easy decision to make,” Claude Julien told the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinazawa. “You’re carrying your country’s flag at the Olympics. Even if he misses a game and maybe two, I think that’s the least we can do for a guy who’s given us so much since he’s been here.”

    Shinazawa suggests Chara will miss a game, but it’s more likely that he’ll miss two. Boston plays the Blues on Feb. 6 and the Senators on Feb. 8 ahead of the Olympic break. The opening ceremonies take place on Feb. 7, six days before Slovakia is set to open the men’s tournament against Team USA on Feb. 13. Given the time difference and travel required, it’s hard to see Chara being available to face St. Louis.

    It’s a classy move by the Bruins, no doubt, but it’s hardly a no-brainer. With the team locked in a tight battle for playoff positioning in the Atlantic Division, the four points at stake in those two contests could be critical down the line — and don’t think this decision won’t be brought up if it has an impact on Boston’s postseason seed. With Dennis Seidenberg already out of the lineup, the back end will have a distinctly Providence-like feel for those games.

    But this is a big picture decision by the team, and a real tribute to Chara’s service both in Boston and in Slovakia. Well deserved.


  • Published On Jan 16, 2014
  • NHL CBA standoff hints at nuclear winter

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    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he has unanimous lockout support from the owners, who remained unseen after their meeting but in a hardline stance that may well get harder during a prolonged stoppage. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Don Fehr stood with 283 of his closest friends. Gary Bettman stood alone.

    A never-ending line of NHL players filed into the conference room like a Midwestern freight train that keeps you parked at a railway crossing for half an hour. About 30 of them walked on stage — Zdeno Chara stood behind Sidney Crosby and you could really see how huge Chara is — while another 250 stood off to the side. Fehr joined them and, in the same way that a tough guy on your team will make everyone play bigger, the impressive show of support made the NHLPA leader seem nearly as big as Chara.

    A little later and several blocks away, Bettman walked into a much smaller room and stood alone at a black podium in front of a black backdrop that each had a lone NHL crest on it. He’s not a tall man to begin with and standing by himself didn’t make him appear any larger.

    However, as bracing as the contrast between these two sights was, the bottom line remained unchanged: We’re still looking at an NHL lockout when Sunday rolls around.

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  • Published On Sep 14, 2012
  • Awards races tight as season, playoffs

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    Few people get fired up about the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play and sportsmanship, however Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell will be a rare bird if he wins it. (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL hands out its annual individual player awards tonight in Las Vegas during a glitzy, star-spangled gala that’s a far cry from the afternoon luncheons in Montreal that were hosted by Clarence Campbell.

    Just as the regular season and playoffs were hard to predict as a result of the league’s parity, it’s difficult to try determining who the voters selected for some of the hardware, and there may be some controversial choices among fans who will believe that the wrong guy won. You have to keep in mind that the voting was done at the conclusion of the regular season and the award recognizes only that aspect of the players’ performances. The playoffs are not a factor.

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  • Published On Jun 20, 2012
  • First round keys: Eastern Conference

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    Of concern: Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist showed signs of wearing down as the regular season wore on. (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    If you’re looking for Stanley Cup predictions, you’ve come to the wrong place. As we’ve previously written, predictions are a waste of time. However, we’re willing to take some stabs at what is each playoff team about. What do they have to do to win? What must they avoid to prevent things from going south?

    So here are the keys to the first round match-ups in the Eastern Conference. You can find the keys to the Western Conference here.

    NEW YORK RANGERS (1) vs. OTTAWA SENATORS (8)

    Rangers - Who they are and how they win:  This team is all about character and sacrifice, starting with captain Ryan Callahan. The Rangers play with unmatched passion, and their shot-blocking and energy are exceptional. They don’t lose a lot of races for the puck and they take hits to make plays. They roll four lines and have better team speed than some think, especially up front, which gives them a dangerous quick-strike offense. Some  people believe New York is a one-line team, but it had decent secondary scoring this season and, because coach John Tortorella has juggled lines all year, he can probably correct any imbalance. Solid defensively, the Rangers keep opponents to the outside and have world-class goaltending with Henrik Lundqvist.

    What could go wrong: . The Rangers’ shot-blocking and physical sacrifice could lead to injuries and a depleted lineup. Lundqvist was not at his best in the late going and that would be problematic if it continues in the postseason. They also don’t have a great power play and taking advantage of those opportunities in the postseason is crucial. The Rangers could get frustrated if their power play falters. The worst thing they could do is be overconfident or take Ottawa too lightly. The Senators are just as fast a team and they have played well against New York all season.

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  • Published On Apr 10, 2012
  • Depth saves Penguins in injury plague

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    No team wins a championship without productive, selfless role players like winger Pascal Dupuis (left). (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s nine Ws in a row for the Pittsburgh Penguins, all without Sidney Crosby, who has been absent for most of the season. And during these nine games, top defenseman Kris Letang has missed five and most of a sixth. Paul Martin, another top four defenseman, has missed the last two. Yet the Pens kept on winning. After defeating Boston on Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh was a mere two points behind the Rangers for the top spot in the East before the Blueshirts eked out an overtime win that evening against the Islanders.

    How do the Penguins do it?

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  • Published On Mar 12, 2012
  • Red line rule won’t make NHL safer

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    The NHL game is faster because the players are in better shape and there’s less obstruction to slow them. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL’s general managers will gather for their annual March meeting next week and hints have been dropped by some to members of the media that they’d like to revisit the rule that makes possible one of hockey’s most exciting plays — the two-line stretch pass that leads to a breakaway.

    Ostensibly, this would be the GMs’ way of helping address the game’s concussion problem, the idea being that the NHL has gotten too fast in part because the two-line pass increases players’ speed and thus the force of collisions and the possibility of concussions. But various league sources say the GMs as a group won’t allow this rule — if it makes it onto the agenda — to be overturned. While there is certainly ongoing concern about concussions, the notion that the game is going to be somehow slowed to prevent them is not the direction the majority of managers want to take. Some of the less progressive GMs are still trying to turn back the clock, but they are in the minority.

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  • Published On Mar 08, 2012
  • Can Erik Karlsson win the Norris?

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    Only 21, Erik Karlsson has blossomed into the NHL’s best offensive defenseman. (JC Salas/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s a bit too early to say whether Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson will be one of the NHL’s three Stars of the Week next Monday — and because it will be trade deadline day, who is even going to notice? — but he’s got a great head start with seven points in his last six periods of play.  With his goal and two assists in Ottawa’s 5-2 win over Washington on Wednesday night, Karlsson leads all NHL defenseman in scoring with 60 points — 20 more than his closest pursuer, Florida’s Brian Campbell.

    Karlsson’s 47th assist on Wednesday set a new Sens franchise record, breaking Norm Maciver’s mark of 46 set during the team’s inaugural campaign of 1992-93. He’s now only three points shy of Maciver’s team mark of 63 points by a d-man in a season.

    Playing in a small market is part of the reason Karlsson hasn’t gotten the acclaim he should. It doesn’t help matters when NBC’s Mike Milbury touts him for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, as Milbury did last night, either not realizing that Karlsson has already played two full seasons or perhaps confusing him with Devils rookie Adam Larsson.

    Karlsson is just 21, and obviously doesn’t have the name recognition nor resume of Shea Weber, Nick Lidstrom or Zdeno Chara. But he has zoomed to the top ranks of blueliners this season. Last season (yes, Karlsson indeed played last season), he was a minus-30 on a poor, directionless team. Today, he’s plus-15 on an excellently coached club that is one of the NHL’s surprises — and he’s a big reason why they are.

    So the inescapable question is, should Karlsson be the favorite for the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenseman?

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  • Published On Feb 23, 2012
  • Flaws clear in NHLPA-Hockey Night poll

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    Not all hockey fights are the same and this complex issue deserves more than a “yes” or “no” answer. (Terry Lee/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    There’s lots to chew on in the annual NHLPA/CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Players’ Poll, the results of which were made public over the weekend. Pavel Datsyuk was pretty much acclaimed as the NHL’s best player, Zdeno Chara the best defenseman, and Henrik Lundqvist the best goalie. The players say they think the Canucks are overrated, the Blues are underrated, that they’d love to play for the Blackhawks, they love playing at Montreal’s Bell Centre, and  the Penguins Dan Bylsma is the coach they’d most like to play for.

    There’s lots more, of course, but let’s stop to consider the issues-oriented questions in the poll, namely those on fighting and the instigator rule. There are some serious problems here, and they start with the questions themselves.

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  • Published On Feb 21, 2012


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