You’d think that being the biggest guy in the NHL would make life a little bit easier for you. For Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, he’s bigger than most everyone else in the league by a long stretch and with the league’s new rule regarding blows to the head and blindside hits, the infamous Rule 48, Chara being as large as he is puts him at a physical disadvantage because other players heads are at elbow and shoulder level for him.
For Chara, however, he’s got other problems with the league rule. He’s worried about his own health as even his head is in danger out on the ice. Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog tells us about how Chara tries to keep everything balanced out to keep himself and others safe out on the ice.
“As far as my height, maybe I’m a taller guy, my head isn’t in a danger zone, knock on wood,” Chara told TheBruinsBlog.net during a chat about Rule 48 Tuesday after his team’s practice. “But at the same time, you’d be surprised how many times I go to hit guys and I run into them with their heads. That happened the other night when I went to hit [St. Louis’ T.J.] Oshie in the corner. I went to hit him, he leaned in, and boom I got it right in the chin. I fell down because that knocked me down. So people don’t see it, but when you go and hit smaller guys and they lean … I got it right on my chin, I went down. It’s one of those things that sometimes the height is not always an advantage.”
I’ll admit, it’s tough to have sympathy for a guy as big as Chara. It’d be really hypocritical for us to feel bad for the 6’9″ Chara and then sit here and keep poking fun at the 6’6″ Chris Pronger each time he says that his height causes him to hit guys in questionable ways. Of course, Chara doesn’t have the same questionable history either.
It’s fascinating to see him discuss about how to keep himself safe from other players when trying to play physically and it’s something we don’t keep in mind when we see guys throwing the body around. Chara isn’t known as a guy that goes out of his way to make a big hit, but when he connects it’s like a force of nature. As long as he keeps the elbows tucked in he won’t have to worry about landing on Colin Campbell’s radar. After all, if someone’s going to hit Chara shoulder-to-shoulder they’re going to have to hope he’s already down on his knees.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: