Chara ready for first post-Pacioretty game vs. Habs

Chara ready for first post-Pacioretty game vs. Habs
March 23, 2011, 6:13 pm
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By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Zdeno Chara didnt shy away from the teeming mass of Boston and Montreal media that crowded around his locker after Wednesday's practice, looking to ask questions about Thursday nights HabsBruins regular-season finale.The two storied NHL rivals still appear to be on a collision course for the first round of the playoffs, and the CharaMax Pacioretty collision that left the Montreal forward with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae was on the minds of everyone within the dressing room.Though Bruins media relations maven Matt Chmura said Chara wouldnt be answering any questions about the Pacioretty incident prior to a five-minute scrum with reporters, the Bruins captain did manage to get a few things across that hes likely been waiting to express.Without going into details, Chara said hes reached out to Pacioretty several times over the last few weeks, but Pacioretty hasnt responded. The B's defenseman may have attempted to go through Pacioretty's Michigan teammate, Steve Kampfer, to get in touch with the Montreal winger, but that's not something Chara was elaborating on.Ive made a few attempts to contact Pacioretty, but he hasnt responded back yet. So far, nothing, said Chara. Im glad hes doing much better and hes probably going to be playing based on the reports that weve heard. Im glad hes going to be fine. Thats good news.Chara seemed to lose a little bit of his edge following the loss, and controversy, up in Montreal, and both the player and team battled through a bit of a dark cloud over their head as police investigations and some truly vicious accusations emanated from Montreal.But Chara battled through on the ice, and has put up two goals and five assists in the six games since the incident, along with a plus-5 rating. It was Charas power-play goal on Tuesday night that proved to be the game-winner over the New Jersey Devils.Chara said well see when asked if he felt like any retribution was coming his way from the Canadiens as a result of the hit a likely scenario, given that no suspensions or supplemental discipline was handed down by the NHL after the collision and it appears the Bruins are braced for anything coming their way.The game itself should be a lot less about settling scores, and quite a bit more about simply playing for Northeast Division supremacy and potential home ice in the playoffs as only three points separate the third-seeded Bs from the sixth-seeded Habs. A win for either team in Boston gives the other momentum and a huge emotional advantage headed into the last few weeks of the regular-season sprint.With two games in hand on Montreal, Chara and the Bruins know theyd essentially be securing their divisional crown with a victory over a motivated Habs bunch that embarrassed them on the Bell Centre ice in the Pacioretty game. They also need to make a statement after struggling with a 1-3-1 record in the previous five meetings against the Canadiens this season.The Bruins have lost 11 of their last 13 regular-season meetings with Montreal, and need to play their strong, intimidating game against a speedy, finesse Canadiens bunch thats skated circles around them in four out of five games this year.The lone exception was the bloody battle on the Garden ice that led to nearly 200 penalty minutes, and set up the CharaPacioretty scene in Quebec.If you look at the standings it looks like BruinsCanadiens could be the playoff matchup, so well see whats going to happen in the next 10 games, said Chara. We all know its a big game for both teams. The rivalry is there and the competition is there. We just need to focus on our game and establish what were working on in the last game. Were focusing on our game.The Habs have a lot of skill and speed up front, and theyre very good system-wise. Its tough to play against teams like that. You have to be in control. Its part of the game to be emotional and play with a lot of jump, but you have to keep a lot of it bottled up and not let emotions take over your game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs