Ovechkin’s big hit dumps Chara into Capitals bench

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File this under things you won’t see every day.

Or month.

Or year.

Zdeno Chara is a big man. Like pretty much seven-feet-tall big with his skates on. And here’s Alex Ovechkin, dumping one of hockey’s largest players into the Washington Capitals bench on a hit that looked more like a shoulder press.

If you watch it close enough, it sure looks like Chara has a bit of a smirk on his face as he looks back at Ovechkin.

There’s not many in the NHL who have the strength to move Chara off the puck, never mind off the ice.

Ovechkin can do a lot of things, and he’s been known to throw some big hits around. This one wasn’t bone-jarring, but it was impressive nonetheless.


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

Chara’s month-long absence adds to Bruins’ blue line woes

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In a week where NHL injury news was seemingly non-stop, the Boston Bruins suffered another blow with the news that Zdeno Chara would be out indefinitely following a leg injury suffered Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche. According to The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa, the captain is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks.

The continued hits to the Bruins’ blue line saw them dress two players, Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril, making their NHL debuts Friday during a 1-0 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. Add in rookie Jeremy Lauzon and you had three defenseman on the ice with not even a combined 10 games of NHL experience. Along with Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Urho Vaakanainen, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller and John Moore were also absent.

This is something that head coach Bruce Cassidy has never experienced.

“No. Not this many at the same time,” Cassidy on Friday. “Clearly when you lose guys through the course of the year, five or six, but not at the same time. It will be a challenge, no doubt.”

Lauzon (24:52 TOI) and Matt Grzelcyk (25:27) made up the top pairing with Chara and McAvoy sidelined.

(Let’s also not gloss over that while Patrice Bergeron got banged up against the Stars and returned, there’s still plenty of concern about his status.)

The good news is that the blue line injury list could see fewer faces on it real soon. Cassidy said that Miller could be back Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Any of Carlo, McAvoy or Vaakanainen may also be able to return to the lineup that night. The Bruins have three full days off after Saturday’s meeting with the Arizona Coyotes; plenty of time to recoup and possibly piece back together their defense corps.

In the meantime, the Bruins will rely on some of their kids to help them get through this stretch. It’ll be quite a period of evaluation.

“It’s the National Hockey League, you can either play in it or you can’t. We’ll find out with some of these guys,” said Cassidy. “Sometimes this is the best way to find out, that’s the positive in it. The negative is we’ve got a lot of good players out of the lineup back there. “If they want to play here it’s a great opportunity to show what they can do right now. That’s the way I look at it. This is kind of their dream to get here. Well, here you are, have at it.”

UPDATE: The Bruins say Chara’s injury is to his left MCL and he’ll be re-evaluated in four weeks. Moore and Bergeron are leaving the road trip and heading back to Boston for evaluation.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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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.

The Buzzer: Maple Leafs, Devils, Avalanche record important wins; Ducks embarrassed

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Monday’s results

Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 2 (Bruins lead series 2-1): Patrick Marleau scored a pair and Frederik Andersen made 40 saves in a must-win for the Maple Leafs. Boston had dominated both outings at TD Garden, with the Leafs giving up 12 goals over both games and forcing Mike Babcock to pull Anderson in the first period in Game 2 after allowing four goals on seven shots. Andersen was back between the pipes on Monday, and although he allowed two gifts early on, he settled in to aid in the win. Auston Matthews scored his first of the series and David Pastrnak was held pointless after his six-point outing on Saturday. In fact, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak failed to record a point after putting up a whopping 20 over Games 1 and 2.

Devils 5, Lightning 2 (Lightning lead series 2-1): Speaking of teams needing a win and better goaltending… The Devils found themselves down 2-0 after allowing five goals in each of Game 1 and Game 2 in Florida. John Hynes elected to make a switch in net after Devils playoff starter Keith Kinkaid was yanked after 33 minutes in Game 2. Cory Schneider stopped 34-of-36 en route to his first win in 2018. Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists in the game.

Avalanche 5, Predators 3 (Predators lead series 2-1):  Take a team that plays very well at home and a player who scores a lot of his points at home and you get a Colorado Avalanche win thanks to two goals by Nathan MacKinnon on Monday. The Avs scored three times in the first period. MacKinnon’s second of the game early in the second period stood as the game-winner.

Sharks 8, Ducks 1 (Sharks lead series 3-0): The Anaheim Ducks need a miracle after Monday’s embarrassment. After losing both games at home to the San Jose Sharks, the Ducks put up a stinker in Monday’s loss. John Gibson didn’t get any help and then he was pulled after allowing five on 24 shots. The Ducks looked disinterested after a while and the Sharks feasted as a result. Joonas Donskoi had a goal and two assists to lead the way. Martin Jones was stellar when called upon, stopping 45 of 46.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Three stars

Patrick Marleau, Maple Leafs: Toronto needed someone to step up and it came through their elder statesman in Marleau, who notched a pair as the Maple Leafs rode to victory to help stave off a 3-0 deficit.

Taylor Hall, Devils: Hall scored unassisted to tie the game in 1-1 in the first period and then was the primary assist on Will Butcher‘s game-tying goal in the second and Stefan Noesen‘s eventual game-winner later in the period. A solid outing from the Hart Trophy candidate.

Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche: There’s a strong case to be made here for Martin Jones, who set a franchise record for a playoff game with 45 saves, but MacKinnon’s two goals propelled the Avs to a much-needed victory after coming into Monday’s action down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Predators. MacKinnon and the Avs have been money at Pepsi Center this season and that held true in their win on Monday. Sorry, Martin.

Highlights of the Night

First and foremost, this:

Them moves:

Eric Fehr scored. Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you:

Nice feed, nice goal:

Factoids of the Night

Old-man Marleau turning back the clock:

Also, old-man Chara:

Look who made the trip!

Tuesday’s schedule

Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) – Blue Jackets lead 2-0
Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. ET (CNBC) – Jets lead 2-1
Vegas Golden Knights at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) – Golden Knights lead 3-0


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

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.

Chara, Oleksiak square off in towering heavyweight tilt (video)

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Fighting in today’s NHL is becoming less and less.

So, when you see a combined 13-feet of NHL behemoths going toe-to-toe, it’s a noteworthy and remarkable occurrence — and a treat.

The tale of the tape included 6-foot-9, 255-pounder in Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and a 6-foot-7, 255-pounder in Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. Both possess the reach of roughly a country mile.

That’s a whole lotta beef.

Many would say whoever is fighting Chara is a sucker for punishment, but Oleksiak is no slouch. And the 25-year-old held is own against Chara, who is 40.

Chara may have been a bit tired, too.

Also, that look on Chara’s face as he’s planning where to plant his fist on your face is, well, terrifying.


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