Bruins’ Chara to be re-evaluated, status for Game 5 unknown

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(UPDATE: Report: Bruins’ Chara has broken jaw)

It didn’t look menacing, per se, upon first glance.

Sure, the puck came off Brayden Schenn‘s stick, deflected up Zdeno Chara‘s and into the big man’s mouth/jaw area, but it looked as if the bloody mess could be sewn up with a few stitches.

Chara was forced out of the rest of the second period. That wasn’t all that surprising. Stitches would take some time. The blood would need to be cleaned up.

And with a full face shield attached to his Warrior lid, Chara returned with the rest of his Bruins teammates for the final frame. A minute passed, then two.

No shift for Chara.

Then a power play by the Blues, which would have normally seen Chara out there killing it off. Instead, he remained stapled to the visiting bench at Enterprise Center.

A power-play opportunity would come, but Chara would not.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

In fact, Chara played doorman on the far end of the Bruins bench next to Jaroslav Halak for the entirety of the remaining period, one that saw Ryan O'Reilly pot the eventual game-winner to send the game back to Boston tied 2-2.

“We clearly know he got a puck to the face, very uncomfortable, was advised not to return to play, had some stitches, probably some dental work in the near future,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the game. “He wanted to come out on the bench and be with his teammates, that’s why he was out there. I don’t know his status for Game 5.

“Obviously, when he gets back home he’ll have to be re-evaluated, see how he feels tomorrow, for starters. If we have something for you we’ll give it to you. So I can’t say whether he’ll play in Game 5 or not. No idea.”

His status is obviously a big concern, but so were the words “was advised not to return to play.

Cassidy addressed that, sort of.

“I don’t want to get in the nuts and bolts,” he said. “The conversation was short, he was getting worked on, we’re getting on the ice. The trainers come to me and said, ‘Done for the night.’ Question was asked, he’d like to sit with his teammates. If medically he’s able to do that, that’s fine.

“Typically these injuries, coaches, at least in our case, we follow the advice of the medical staff 100 percent of the time. And they did in this case, and they said it was OK for him to sit on the bench. That’s what took place and that’s about all I got on that.”

Perhaps being allowed to sit on the bench is a good sign.

The Bruins are already without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who was plastered from behind in the first period of Game 2 and has yet to return to the series.

Losing a second man from your top six would be a) bad luck and, b) bad news. Already missing Grzelcyk’s 16-plus minutes, losing Chara’s near-23 would be detrimental to their cause of a second Stanley Cup in eight years.

“If there’s any chance for him to be back, he’ll be back,” David Backes said. “If not, it’ll be next man up again. Whoever our next guy up is will have to fill that role admirably—and they’re big feet to fill.”

That could Steven Kampfer, among others. Cassidy said Kampfer would get the first look and they’d go from there.

“You never want to see that happen to anyone, especially someone on your team, someone who is such a big part of our team playing-wise, leadership-wise,” Charlie Coyle said. “It’s not an ideal situation but it’s how you respond to adversity and you see a lot of it during this time of year.”

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (stream here).


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Darcy Kuemper slams Matthew Tkachuk to ice, nearly sparks goalie fight (Video)

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You can add Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper to the lengthy list of players around the NHL that has snapped in the presence of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Late in the second period of the Coyotes’ 3-0 win on Saturday afternoon, Kuemper came to the defense of his teammate, defenseman Jason Demers, and slammed Tkachuk to the ice setting off a chaotic line brawl that nearly ended with a goalie fight.

It all started when Demers knocked Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau to the ice away from the play.

Gaudreau responded by skating up behind Demers and cross-checking him in the back, knocking him to the ice. While Demers was down on the ice, Gaudreau and Tkachuk each got in a little extra shot and it was at that point that Kuemper decided to enter the situation.

Once that happened, Flames goalie David Rittich stormed the length of the ice and tried to come to the defense of his teammate. The two goalies never actually fought, but they did both receive their share of penalties. Kuemper was assessed two roughing minors, while Rittich was given a two-minute penalty for leaving the crease to join an altercation.

Kuemper now has 20 penalty minutes since the start of the 2017-18 season which is by far the highest total of any goalie in the league. Rittich (now with 10) is the only other goalie with more than eight.

Tkachuk was also given four minutes for roughing, while Gaudreau received two minutes for cross-checking and Demers was assessed two for roughing.

You can see the entire sequence in the video above.

As for the actual game itself, it was a huge day for Kuemper as he stopped 38 shots to record the shutout and help the Coyotes improve to 12-7-2 on the season.

It is his second shutout of the season and improved his save percentage to an outstanding .937 in 14 appearances.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Paul Bissonnette to get chance to back up lacrosse boast

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Paul Bissonnette will have a chance to back up his lacrosse boast.

Two days after tweeting that he could make a National Lacrosse League team without having ever played a game, the former NHL player signed a professional tryout Friday with the Vancouver Warriors.

”Bissonnette will be given every opportunity to make the Vancouver Warriors,” Warriors coach Chris Gill said. ”Paul talks a pretty big game. Let’s see if he can back it up and be a part of our team.”

The 34-year-old Bissonnette, now the radio color commentator for the Arizona Coyotes, played 202 NHL games with Pittsburgh and Arizona. He had seven goals, 15 assists and 340 penalty minutes in his six NHL seasons.

He’s gained notoriety more for his outspoken and often humorous tweets commenting on hockey and others sports.

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena on Nov. 22 and 23.

The Buzzer: Bruins end slump; Blackwood baffles Penguins

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Three Stars

1. Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils

If the Devils are going to dig themselves out of the big hole they made to start 2019-20, it’s highly likely that Blackwood will be the goalie who helps them do it.

Lately, the 22-year-old has been rotating nice wins (.968 save percentage or higher in three victories) with tough losses (.889 or lower in three defeats). Friday represented one of the nicest wins yet, as he stopped 38 out of 39 of the Penguins’ shots to help the Devils steal a 2-1 decision.

Natural Stat Trick places the Penguins’ expected goals at 3.55, and their high-danger chances at 14 at all strengths, so Blackwood was the clear difference-maker in that narrow triumph.

2. Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens

The Habs got revenge on the scoreboard after Alex Ovechkin landed that devastating hit on Jonathan Drouin, and Tatar was a big catalyst for that rally.

Yes, his goal was an empty-netter, but Tatar already had a top-three-worthy night when he piled up three assists. If you’d prefer his linemate Phillip Danault (1G, 2A, nothing on that ENG), that’s fine, too. Being boiling up some righteous indignation, the plus side of Drouin getting shaken up might be that Claude Julien went back to Tatar, Danault, and Brendan Gallagher as a line ever so briefly. Via Natural Stat Trick, they generated two five-on-five goals for in just 42 seconds of TOI together. Piping-hot take: maybe keep them with each other a little bit longer?

Overall, Tatar was an absurd possession beast on Friday, generating a ridiculous 80% Fenwick Four. By any measure, he was spectacular, and there’s a compelling case for Tatar being placed above Blackwood as the top star of the night.

3. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Attempting to defense the Bruins’ top line must be agonizing, as Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak just bring so many strengths to the table. It might be especially frustrating to try to contain Marchand, though.

Not only will he trash talk you (and back it up), but he’s also very smart and elusive, finding openings even when there’s just a bit of space to work with. Marchand played a big role in Boston ending its winning streak, and also extending Toronto’s torment, by scoring two goals, including the game-winner.

But, yeah, that troll game is also there.

Highlight of the Night

Zach Werenski had been off to a bit of a slow start scoring-wise for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, but the 22-year-old is gaining some serious steam lately. Werenski scored the overtime game-winner for Columbus on Friday, extending his goal streak to three games (three goals, one assist).

(Some might vote for the Ovechkin hit as the clip of the night, though.)

Factoids

  • Via NHL PR: Zdeno Chara became the fourth defenseman in NHL history aged 42 or older to generate a three-game point streak. Chris Chelios has done it twice, and holds the best run with a four-game tear. The other two (Doug Harvey, Tim Horton) make it quite the list.
  • Another aging defenseman stat from NHL PR: Shea Weber became the third active NHL defenseman to generate at least a five-game point streak at age 34 or older. Chara did it in 2011-12, while Mark Giordano has two streaks of seven games. Weber also scored his 209th goal, placing him 18th all-time among NHL defensemen, via Sportsnet.
  • Saucy one from Sportsnet: the Maple Leafs and Oilers have the same point percentage (.531) in 64 games since Jan. 1, and Edmonton actually has one more win (30 to 29).

Scores

BOS 4 – TOR 2
NJD 2 – PIT 1
MTL 5 – WSH 2
CBJ 3 – STL 2 (OT)
OTT 2 – PHI 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Alex Ovechkin lights up Habs’ Drouin with huge hit

via NBC Sports Washington
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Alex Ovechkin is known for scoring goals (my personal favorite, which was nearly replicated by a Penguins prospect), but the Washington Capitals superstar is so fun to watch because he’s also perfectly willing to throw his body around for a big check. It’s one of those things that made you believe that maybe he’d wear down, yet that Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin received a painful reminder that you need to keep your head on a swivel when Ovechkin’s on the ice, as the Capitals winger leveled Drouin with a huge hit on Friday.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Drouin was shaken up almost as much by the second impact:

Drouin left immediately for the locker room, but he’s taken some shifts afterward, so he might be OK … we’ll have to see.

There’s at least some debate about the legality of the hit, for what it’s worth:

Sometimes big hits like that light a fire under teams. Maybe Ovechkin was hoping it would do so for Washington, but instead Montreal might channeled that anger into getting even on the scoreboard, as they rattled off a 4-0 lead in response, and ended up winning 5-2.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.