Chara avoids fine or suspension

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Chara avoids fine or suspension

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Zdeno Chara avoided further punishment for his hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty when the National Hockey League decided Wednesday not to issue a fine or suspension to the Bruins' captain.

Chara had a hearing with the NHL at mid-day on Wednesday, prior to the team's practice at Ristuccia Arena. Chara participated in the workout.

On Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fractured of the fourth cervical vertebrae after being checked by Chara and hitting his head on the "turnbuckle" that separates the two benches at center ice.

Prior to the ruling, the Bruins defended their captain.

"Knowing Chara as I know, there was no intent to injure aplayer on that play," said coach Claude Julien. "As I mentioned Tuesday night, the location ofthe injury is what caused the damage, and that's the unfortunate partof that . . .

"The one thing that everybody here hopes, is that the human side of us wishes for Pacioretty to recover quickly and well," said Julien. "That would something that everybody hopes, here. I know that Chara is going through a lot of stuff right now, and is being perceived as a dirty player, which anybody who knows Z, knows that's not the case."

Julien said Chara has always been a clean player, and that sometimes his physicality can look worse than it actually is because of his size.

"When you're 6-foot-9, and you're probably one of the strongest guys in the league, you can't go out there and not utilize that to your advantage," said Julien. "So he plays hard, but at the same time, he plays clean. It's already a challenge, for a guy like him, at 6-foot-9, to keep his elbows down. Because the minute he lifts them up a little bit, it's hitting guys in the head. So he's made a really good adjustment, in regards to that.

"It's always easy to criticize. It's always easy to attack a guy. But if you take time to look at the situation, if you take time to see what he has to go through, there's always going to be a challenge for him."

None of the Bruins thought it was a dirty hit, saying that had it occured anywhere but the area between the benches, Pacioretty wouldn't have been hurt.

"It's not like he was trying to hurt the guy," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "It really wasn't his intention to hurt the guy, and make sure he didn't get up. He's not that type of player. It was just a weird spot that he got put into."

"If it happens anywhere away from the bench, where there's plexiglass, it just rubs Pacioretty out and there's absolutely nothing happening there . . . except at worst . . . two minutes for interference," said Julien. "That's it. That's all."

"I was trying to make a strong hockey play, and play hard," said Chara, who hadn't had a chance to reach out to Pacioretty -- but plans to -- as of Wednesday afternoon. "It's very unfortunate, like I said, that the player got hurt and had to leave the game. Obviously, it is in my mind."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

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Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

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Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.