Max Pacioretty injured

Pacioretty faces Chara for the first time tonight


Zdeno Chara has already faced the Montreal Canadiens since his controversial hit on Max Pacioretty last March. The big Boston defenseman helped the Bruins to a seven-game victory over the Habs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

But Chara still hasn’t faced Pacioretty on the ice. Until tonight at the TD Garden.

While Chara isn’t making a big deal out of it – “I’m excited to play the game” – it’s always a story when two players who were involved in a contentious incident meet for the first time.

Boston coach Claude Julien was saying all the right things prior to tonight’s contest.

“I can tell you one thing we’re happy about honestly, and it would be for anybody else, is that [Pacioretty] is healthy. As a player in the league, you don’t want to see somebody end his career on an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player to come back and be healthy. As far as that’s concerned, he’s healthy, we’ve turned the page and now it’s time to move on,” said Julien, as reported by the Boston Herald.

At any rate, you have to think Pacioretty will be more focused on continuing his recent run of play than taking any sort of revenge on Chara (which would be a tough thing to do anyway). The 22-year-old Montreal forward leads his team in scoring with nine points, including two goals and an assistant in the Habs’ vital 5-1 win over the Flyers last night at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens aren’t out of the woods yet though. They’re still last in the Northeast with a 2-5-2 record. And with back-to-back games against their biggest rivals (the two teams meet again in Montreal on Saturday), there’s the potential for things to take a serious turn for the worse. Which is to say, the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn might not be the final move GM Pierre Gauthier makes. Head coach Jacques Martin is the likeliest next casualty.

The Bruins, meanwhile, have their own problems. The defending champions are off to a slow start. Some would say it’s a predictably slow start after a short summer of celebrating. But their 3-5-0 record gives them just as many points as the Habs.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?