Let’s start with the important stuff:

I was very glad to hear Max Pacioretty was moving and speaking at the hospital. In the five + seasons Zdeno Chara has been in a Boston uniform, I have bought four jerseys, one another defensemen, none of them his. I have also played sports and been knocked out, as well as having been in car accidents.  In his eleven year, nearly thousand game career Zdeno Chara has been suspended, just once, for one game for an incident during a fight.

Before looking at the video, lets do our due diligence and look at what’s going on, and where the players are looking before and after the contact is made. Chara and Pacioretty are looking at each other before contact. After contact Chara is looking forward for the puck, and the play.

Next, one should consider the physics involved. The two are skating, at a good clip, neither is exactly the fastest skater in the NHL, but for the sake of discussion we’ll say 15 miles per hour. Pacioretty is 6’2 and listed at 196lbs. Chara is 6’9 and listed at 255. My math says that the difference is over 1/3rd of Pacioretty’s total body weight.

Last thing to examine is emotion, or as some might phrase it in cases like this, intent. Chara, is yapping, Pacioretty is yapping, both are skating. Neither has started engaging in the spears, slashes, punches, facewashes and other behavior that indicate severe frustration in hockey players. Neither was slowing or clutching at the other in prelude to a fight. When we see Chara immediately after the hit, there is none of the tell tale signs we’ve all seen when Chara pops his top.

One other thing, Zdeno Chara has been on the ice when his teammates have been seriously injured. He’s witnessed Quebec’s own Patrice Bergeron get concussed twice. He’s witness Marc Savard get concussed, he saw David Krejci get smashed by Adam Mair, he was front row for Andrew Alberts getting blasted while making a play from his knees.

So here’s the video:

Chara hit on Pacioretty

 

So what did we see? We saw Pacioretty and Chara skating along the boards, neither one paying attention to anything but each other. We see Pacioretty start in Chara’s direction. We then see Chara counter hit, with again his greater mass, and see Chara continue skating toward the action.

My background education is in psychology.  And I have quite a temper myself. Of all the things I can tell you that are relevant to both of those and this incident, I can tell you that that when I, and most people are ticked off enough to intentionally harm another, we want to watch. We can’t help it. We know when we’ve done it, and we tend to put a good deal of effort into it.

So, let’s look again. Chara extended his arms not his whole body, no stick, no skate on skate contact and above all no head contact.  You saw Zdeno Chara keep skating forward without ever pausing. Now, since we’ve all seen Chara fight before after losing his cool, and we’ve seen when the officials keep him from going at it with other players. In all of those cases Chara has attention for nothing other than going hard towards the puck and the play.

So in review:

  • No history of discipline not directly related to a fight, and none at all in the past five years.
  • Chara has repeated close, personal experience with players getting bad head injury.
  • Physics (speed and mass differential) dictate that contact at this point will unfavorable to Pacioretty.
  • Pacioretty made the initial move towards contact.
  • Despite the more than half foot of height difference with the larger player reaching down to contact, there is no head contact.
  • Chara did not put his full weight, stick, body or attentioninto the contact.
  • Chara was not focused on Pacioretty after contact.

While people up and down Twitter, and no doubt other social media have compared this to the Bertuzzzi incident of years ago, its hard to find any real parallel.  What happened was unfortunate, no question about it. Had the hit happened three strides further back, or three strides forward no one would have noticed anything other than Chara accumulating yet another career hit.  I can understand the interference call, even the major. A suspension would be curious for a routine hit, in an unfortunate location when both players are moving at full speed.

Tonight is games five of the season series, and the boys from La Belle Province hold the lead. The last game we all distinctly remember for its goals, hits and fights. Tonight will probably be a bit tamer.

  1. Will Patrice Bergeron’s head be in the game after his time off for “family matters”?
  2. Does the trash talk of Brad Marchand draw special attention to itself during the game and on the ice?
  3. Which Bruins powerplay will show up? The one that had a several game scoring streak ending just after the trade deadline, or will it be the one stymied by such powerhouses as Edmonton and Ottawa?
  4. Who will draw someone into taking a truly stupid penalty first, diver and turtle par excellence Max Pacioretty, or one of the two mouthy rookies?
  5. Will superstar offensive defensemen Johnny Boychuck or Hal Gill light the lamp tonight?

Bonus who to cheer:

  • Islanders vs. Leafs. No Brainer, the Islanders all the way. The worse the Leafs finish, the better the Bruins can draft (or move that pick.), plus Grabner and Taveres are more fun to cheer for than Kessel and Phaneuf.
  • Senators vs. Devils. As great as the story would be for the Devils to make the post season, and Brian Rolston, Ilya Kovalchuk and others have certainly earned huge respect, but the Senators passing the Leafs would be a very nice thing.
  • Oilers vs. Flyers. While losing to the 29th place team might make the Flyers more dangerous later, this one is still a push. The Bruins would have the same number of points as the Flyers with a Philadelphia loss and a Boston win, but false confidence could be fun to watch crumble.
  • Sabres vs. Penguins. Go Sabres go, the Bruins have had better luck against the very south Ontario team than the Rangers who are currently in seventh.
  • Panthers vs. Blackhawks. Captain Toews is an impressive player, and I like him, but the Panthers are within striking distance of the Leafs with a game in hand.
  • Wild vs Avalanche. Purely a western conference affair, but good guy Chuck Kobasew is still a Wild, and a bottom five finish for the AVS probably means a summer sell off so the Bruins might pick up some nice pieces.
  • Coyotes vs Canucks. Coyotes, Coyotes, Coyotes, not just because the Sedins can’t seem to buy and wear non-matching clothing, but because no city should lose a franchise someone is willing to buy and keep in place.
  • Predators vs Sharks. Go Predators, this is a small market team with two of the top 25 defensemen in the NHL, and they deserve the post season spotlight.

 

 

Last night was a fairly physical, not very sharp game from both teams. Two fights, Nathan Horton vs Craig Adams and Shawn Thornton vs Mike Rupp. Given that the Bruins and Penguins are two of the top three teams for fighting, only two fights is something of a surprise.

 

  1. No one really stepped up, several players had decent games with Krejci finally breaking double digits for goals, and Chara opening the scoring, Seidenberg had a fairly good night as well, and Peverley looked good filling in for Bergeron in some situations. That said without Patrice Bergeron who is the teams magic smoke, they were frequently disjointed.
  2. It was not a high scoring game, but there were seventy shots on goal, and thirty one blocked shots. Many of them were poor shots, but mostly the game came down to scrambling and turnovers.
  3. The top goalies were in net, and both did well.
  4. Jordan Staal played a leisurely 20:42 with one goal and and even split in faceoffs.
  5. Special teams was a draw, the Bruins kept the Penguins to zero shots during a penalty kill, but neither team did anything remarkable.

Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguin’s have undergone quite the facelift today. In addition to name naming the frequently thought of Matt Cooke an Alternate Captain, a position teams use to reward and publicly back the behavior of players of special merit and talent, they added three new off ice positions.

 

Donald Brashear
has been brought on board to help teach important hockey skills. When contacted by PuckSage.com and asked about the specifics of his position he had this to say

“Well, I’ll be teaching guys important stuff. One of the things I want to focus on is stick use, I remember my first hockey stick as a pro, it lasted me six and half years. I’d still be using it if it hadn’t fallen out of the bus when one of the equipment guys slipped on some ice. You see some guys like Ovechkin through four or five sticks a game, not me. I took my one shot on goal every two weeks and made sure I didn’t scuff the tape. But I’m really excited to be back in the NHL, I think Mr. Lemieux’s bringing me into the front office really says a lot about where this franchise is headed.”

Among the other new faces is arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, Patrick Roy. Mr Roy is remembered by many Quebecers for his time as the backbone of the Montreal Canadiens. The rest of the NHL’s fans remember him for his stomping into the general managers office on a day he couldn’t stop a beach ball and blaming the coach for things while demanding a trade. Courts and law enforcement remember him for encouraging his son to continue pummeling a prone and unresisting player on another team, a smaller kid who wanted no part of the fight anyway while coaching the Quebec Remparts. Saint Patrick as he’s known to many Canadiens fans will be teaching monthly seminars on self control, and coping mechanisms to Penguins prospects.

The last of the new faces is Ulf Sammuelson. Sammuelson who’s sons have taken up the family trade is titled “Detached Coach in Charge of On Ice Decorum” and will be relying heavily on footage of the play of Matt Cooke to complete his duties. Boston Bruin’s President Cam Neely was said to be “overcome” at the news, former teammate and Boston Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney was seen checking prices for flights to Pittsburgh but was unavailable for comment.

Unconfirmed rumors point to attempts to recruit prominent NFL quarterbacks Ben Rothlesberger and Michael Vick to conduct monthly seminars and week long summer courses on sexual propriety and animal husbandry. More when we can confirm these.

With each teams top two centers out today, the Penguins and Bruins faceoff. Both teams are chasing the Flyers, who are facing the hungry and reinforced Buffalo Sabres. If Buffalo wins today when the Bruins and Penguins take their first shifts the Bruins would have the chance to get within one point of the conference leader, and the Penguins could get to within four.

 

  1. Who steps up for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron is a huge part of the Bruins winning equation and he joins Marc Savard on the outside looking in today.
  2. With two of the top defensive teams facing off, will this stay a defensive battle as one might predict or will it become a run and gun game like the Bruins Buffalo game of New Years Day?
  3. Which goalies will we see? Both Thomas and Fluery will need to be well rested for the playoffs, but this is a big game.
  4. How many minutes will Jordan Staal play? He’s topped 29 minutes since the down-checking of Crosby and Malkin at least once.
  5. Who wins the special teams battle? Neither team has an impressive PP this year, while the Penguins have the top PK which they employ a bit more than they probably want to.

See you at game time!

This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.

 

If I told you in September…

  • that Milan Lucic and Matt Moulson would both have more goals on March 5th than Phil Kessel
  • that after a 15 month break Alexander Ovechkin would return to Twitter to post the picture of Phil Kessel sitting alone as the last player to be picked at the All-Star draft?
  • that only two players in the top 100 goal scorers, Radim Vrbata and David Booth , would have a lower shooting percentage than Alex Ovechkin
  • That of center Stamkos and winger Ovechkin, the latter would have more assists
  • Dany Heatley would be just one point ahead of Patrice Bergeron
  • the Washington Capitals would fall out of last years top spot for goal scoring all the way to the 2o’s, and go from 16th in goals against up to 7th
  • the NHL’s best penalty kill would belong to the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • the #7 offense would belong to a team, Tampa Bay, with only one short handed goal
  • the Colorado Avalanche who have allowed the most goals per game would have the second best Sv% in the shootout in the NHL
  • the Edmonton Oilers would own a better winning percentage when trailing after two periods than; the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins,  Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, and Calgary Flames all of which are in the top 8 in their conference as of today
  • that with Malkin out since 02/04 and Crosby out since 01/05 that the Penguins would not only still be in the playoffs, but still have home ice advantage for the first round
  • that for the first time since 2003-04 Joe Thornton would be less than a point per game player
  • of Los Angeles Kings defensemen; Rob Scuderi, Jack Johnson, Alec Martinex and Matt Greene that Scuderi would have the most game winning goals.
  • that despite having the third worst +/- in the NHL, the Florida Panthers would still be able to unload Denis Wideman on deadline day
  • former Bruins Phil Kessel and Denis Wideman would be a combined -45
  • Patrick Sharp would lead all players in goals against division opponents

would you have believed a single word?