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Bruins’ Zdeno Chara staying in Boston after inking one-year extension

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Opposing forwards will have to deal with Zdeno Chara for at least one more season after the Boston Bruins defenseman inked an extension Wednesday through the 2018-19 NHL season.

Chara, 41, is getting a $1 million raise next season with a $5 million salary and could earn up to an additional $1.75 million in bonuses tied to games played.

In 68 games this season Chara has seven goals and 23 points while averaging 23 minutes a night. His time on-ice is actually the lowest he’s played since 2001-02 — his first season in Ottawa — but it still leads all Bruins defensemen. His play has been supported by his partner on the blue line, 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, who is among the league’s top rookies.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

McAvoy has been a sponge around Chara, soaking up the knowledge of a veteran defenseman with over 1,400 NHL games under his belt. From taking care of things off the ice to staying sharp on it, the young McAvoy has learned a lot in a short while playing with the elder Chara.

“The way he controls the game is just awesome. There’s not many people I think can do it like that,” McAvoy said earlier this season. “When he gets the puck, it’s kind of like a calm factor to him. He’s so strong defensively, I know when he’s going to win his battles.”

Chara has been out since March 13 with an upper-body injury and could return Thursday for a big matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. McAvoy may get back in as well, which bodes well as the Bruins remain in the hunt for not only the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but also the Presidents’ Trophy.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Marcus Johansson on Brad Marchand elbow: ‘There was no point in doing that’

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It’s been two months since Marcus Johansson last played for the New Jersey Devils. On Jan. 23, he suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the head from Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins.

In that time Marchand has attended the NHL All-Star Game and recorded 30 points in 22 games while helping the Bruins move up the Eastern Conference standings. Johansson didn’t begin skating again until March 6 when he took the ice on his own.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Marchand was suspended five games and Johansson suffered a second concussion of the season. The Devils forward still isn’t medically cleared to play and has a few more hurdles to clear, according to head coach John Hynes.

Johansson has missed 28 games and on Monday he expressed his disappointment with the hit and Marchand’s suspension.

“It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. I think there was no point in doing that,” he told reporters after Monday’s practice. “There was no hockey play whatsoever there. It’s sad to see that there are still guys out there trying to hurt other guys… It’s sad. It’s stupid. I hope it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. It’s not why we play the game.

“I think there are always situations where you try to hit someone, you try to make a hockey play and things go wrong. Then there are plays like this where I think it’s got nothing to do with hockey. It’s sad to see. I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”

The five-game suspension wasn’t enough, added Johansson, who referenced Marchand’s long history with the Department of Player Safety. But that’s all in the past now and there are more important matters to focus on.

“[I’m] trying to put that behind me,” he said. “I just want to get back to feeling normal again. That’s all I can do.”

More: Why Brad Marchand is NHL’s most frustrating player

Stick-tap Amanda Stein for the audio

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Blues move closer to playoffs with OT win; Bruins clinch

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Maybe the St. Louis Blues aren’t dead in the water after all.

In fact, despite selling off Paul Stastny at the trade deadline following two brutal loses that were part of a larger free fall at the time, the Blues have found another gear with just weeks left in the NHL season.

The Blues pulled themselves to within one point of the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 overtime win against the depleted Boston Bruins on Wednesday Night Rivalry on the NHL on NBCSN.

The Bruins held the lead for two periods and change before Jaden Schwartz scored mid-way through the third period to tie the game and then 30 seconds into overtime to seal the win and move one-point behind the Anaheim Ducks (who were still in action against the Calgary Flames.)

That’s three straight OT wins for the Blues, who were without Vladimir Tarasenko due to injury.

The point for the Bruins was important, despite the loss, as they have now clinched a playoff spot, moving four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Bruins were still missing Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Rick Nash on Wednesday, yet still figured out a way to obtain something despite a stacked infirmary.

And part of that help is coming from a surprising place.

Last week at this time, Ryan Donato was a Harvard student, fresh off a five-goal performance at the Olympics for Team USA.

By Sunday, he was still a Harvard student but had signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Boston Bruins. On Monday, still a Havard student and now an NHLer for 24 hours, Donato scored his first NHL goal and added two assists in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

On Tuesday, Donato was back in class — you guessed it — as a Harvard student, an NHL player who had been excused from practice by the team that signed him two days earlier and scored his first NHL goal a night before.

On Wednesday, Donato scored again.

Meanwhile, the NHL could take a deeper look at a second-period hit to the head Brayden Schenn by on David Krejci.

Schenn was handed a two-minute charging penalty on the play, and Krejci stayed in the game, but judging by the above video, there was definite contact to the head and it appears Krejci was fortunate to be able to get up and skate away.

NBCSN’s Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones talked about if Schenn deserves to be suspended for the hit.


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

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks

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NBC’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Sunday as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at 12:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BRUINS
Brad MarchandRiley NashDavid Pastrnak
Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciRick Nash
Danton HeinenTommy Wingels – Brian Gionta
Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaBrandon Carlo
Torey KrugNick Holden
Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

WATCH LIVE – 12:30 p.m. ET

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane
Alex DeBrincatNick Schmaltz – John Hayden
Tomas JurcoArtem Anisimov – Matt Highmore
Patrick SharpDavid Kampf – TBD

Duncan KeithConnor Murphy
Erik GustafssonBrent Seabrook
Jordan OesterleJan Rutta

Starting goalie: Anton Forsberg

Anthony Duclair injured after high hit from Brad Marchand (Video)

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Oh, Brad Marchand.

The NHL’s department of player safety is likely going to have to press its big red ‘Brad Marchand’ button on its phone once again after Marchand’s latest indiscretion.

Let’s roll the tape:

Is there anyone more talented yet more frustrating than Marchand?

To be fair to Marchand, he actually appeared to try to get out of the way. Of course, in doing so he drilled Duclair in the head and Duclair subsequently came down very awkwardly on his knee (it folded underneath him).

Marchand was given an interference penalty on the play. Duclair hasn’t returned to the game, understandably.

UPDATE: 

Trying to give Marchand the benefit of the doubt in any situation is exceedingly difficult. And he does a good job of trying to make a bad hit look sort of accidental.

Of course, there’s gotta be a better way to evade a guy then jumping up and clotheslining him.

Marchand was handed a five-game ban for elbowing Marcus Johansson earlier this season.

Alright, PHT readers. How many games is Marchand getting this time?


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