Chara shatters 'hardest shot' record


Chara shatters 'hardest shot' record

OTTAWA Zdeno Chara wanted to do something special in the city of Ottawa where he played for four NHL seasons and first became the elite defenseman thats truly blossomed since leaving the Senators for Boston.

So Chara did something that no NHL player has ever done before. The Bs defenseman rocked a puck 108.8-mph in the Hardest Shot Competition to win his fifth straight title and shatter his own personal record of 105.9-mph set last season. Chara actually broke his own record twice with shots that topped 106-mph before reaching all the way back for the seemingly superhuman 108.8-mph.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber also topped 106-mph during his trip to the hardest shot finals against Chara, but he was no match for the 6-foot-9 shooting monster once again this season.

Sometimes you dont look at the exact numbers and you just want to win. I was very fortunate that besides winning I could push the record really high up, said Chara, who was greeted with wild cheers as a returning hero at Scotiabank Place. It was great. The standing ovation is always very much appreciated. I was glad I could break the record here in Ottawa where I played and spent some great years.

Its all part of Charas personal plan to continue improving himself season after season, and hes certainly followed through with his blistering feats of slap shot strength the event the NHL chooses to run last in the series of six skill competitions on All-Star weekend.

Does Chara think he can hit 110-mph one of these years?

Well seethats my motto. Every season when I step on the ice Im trying to do better and improve, said Chara. It was a great feeling. I didnt see the number until I peeked over the guys because the radar was late picking up numbers. When I saw 108.8 I was surprised, but also very happy.

Tim Thomas stood in amazement watching his longtime teammate once again snap his own record, and said Charas sizzling shot has made him a better goaltender over the years.

Ive got the pleasure of seeing history up close in each of these last few All-Star games with Zee upping the ante, said Thomas. I dont know. Every year he sets a new record youre like okay hes reached the limit and then he goes out and sets new limits.

I get to face that every day in practice for years and its part of whats made me a better goalie, said Thomas. Hopefully were playing for a lot longer, but its been a real honor playing with him. Hes turning into one of the best defenseman to every play the game.

One of the most interesting parts of Charas new record: he was utilizing a new Warrior stick in the competition. Its fairly obvious that should be the Bs defensemans twig of choice for the foreseeable future after tonights heavy shot-filled events.

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick


Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

MORE - Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto. 

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.