The 2014 Winter Olympics can be a lot of different things to different players. For Edmonton Oilers defenseman Martin Marincin, it’s a golden opportunity to learn from one of the game’s elite.
Marincin, 21, has only played in 19 NHL contests, but he’ll be making the trip to Sochi and playing for Team Slovakia with Boston’s Zdeno Chara. Oilers coach Dallas Eakins has known Chara since 1999 when they were both at the Islanders’ training camp, so the bench boss has been playing matchmaker.
He’s been pushing Martin to bombard Chara with questions during their time together while asking the Bruins blueliner to help the youngster out.
“(Chara) said he’d spend lots of time with him,” Eakins told the Edmonton Journal. “Zdeno even texted me later, after we were on the plane, reiterating what he had promised.”
Among other things, Eakins is hoping that Chara’s work ethic rubs off on Marincin. At 188 pounds, the rookie defenseman has some room to grow given his 6-foot-4 frame. Eakins has noticed Marincin’s progress, but also feels his strength level has been an issue at times.
The time he spends with Chara probably won’t pay immediate dividends, but it could prove to be a valuable experience as he works towards the next phase of his career.
After some earlier speculation, the Boston Bruins have confirmed that captain Zdeno Chara will miss two games so that he can attend the 2014 Winter Olympics’ opening ceremonies. He will carry the flag for Slovakia.
This will be a great experience for Chara, but it will also put the Bruins in a tough situation. They’ve already been playing without Dennis Seidenberg, so their defense will be a little thin during Chara’s absence.
He’ll be absent for a pair of tough contests too as Boston is set to face the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6 before playing the division rival Ottawa Senators on Feb. 8.
The Bruins currently hold the Atlantic Division title and they hold a four-point edge on the Tampa Bay Lightning despite having played in one less contest. They’ll try to give themselves a bit more breathing room before the break, even if they’ll have to accomplish that without Chara for part of that stretch.
After breaking an NHL record with his 59-save shutout on Wednesday, what will Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens do for an encore this afternoon against Boston?
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins doubtlessly hopes that it won’t involve having to stop another 59 shots. Wednesday’s shutout was the team’s third straight win, but Eakins would like to see his squad help out their netminder significantly more this time around.
Edmonton captain Andrew Ference should certainly help in that regard. He’s missed three straight contests due to a head injury, but he’s good to face his former teammates today.
Ference won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins and while he’s already played against them once this season, this will be his first game in Boston since signing with the Oilers over the summer.
“It will be nice to see him back in the Garden and I know he’s going to probably get a couple claps for him and it’s well-deserved,” his former defensive partner, Johnny Boychuk, told the Bruins’ website.
The game will start at 1:00 p.m. ET. Boston will be attempting to rebound from a 4-1 loss to Montreal in order to build some breathing room between them and the rest of the Atlantic Division before the Olympic break.
On home ice against their fiercest and most historic rival, the Boston Bruins were flat and the Montreal Canadiens played almost a completely perfect road game.
The Canadiens skated to a 4-1 victory, chasing goalie Tuukka Rask from the Boston net in the second period, with Chad Johnson coming into the game as his replacement. Not a great night for either puck stopper. The Canadiens, having recently snapped an ugly four-game losing streak were full value for the win, getting goals from four different players.
The topic of Rask getting pulled apparently caused some tension between the media and Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien following the game.
“Maybe sometimes you pull the goalie for different reasons. I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys,” said Julien, according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette.
The bench boss added: “I’m trying to get out of this so you guys understand we weren’t very good tonight. See you guys next game.”
The often-heated rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens has, so far tonight, gone largely in favor of the Habs. And that has meant the hook for Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask was pulled after allowing three goals on 18 shots, just past the midway point of the second period. Chad Johnson came into the game, but didn’t get a warm welcome from the Canadiens.
Daniel Briere scored Montreal’s fourth goal of the evening, on just the second shot Johnson faced since entering the game, according to the play-by-play report on NHL.com.
The Canadiens come into this game in a struggle of their own, having lost four of their previous five games. In those four defeats, they were outscored 19-5.
This latest outing only continues Rask’s ongoing struggles against the Canadiens.