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.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins


Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask


Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.