Chara holds his ground vs. Paquette, Bolts
Cedric Paquette is trying to make a name for himself in his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He may want to rethink things after a couple of altercations with Zdeno Chara on Tuesday night.
Paquette’s first encounter with Chara came after a whistle just seven seconds into the Bruins’ first power play attempt during the third period. With the Bruins captain initially called for boarding Matt Carle, Paquette decided to poke the 6-foot-9 defenseman and got knocked down in one punch.
One would think Paquette would have backed off of Chara after that first altercation. Instead, he came looking for more late in the game as the two dropped the gloves. Paquette would land a punch before turtling to Chara before referee Michelle Cormier stepped in to break up the combatants.
“I don’t know what that kid was thinking. I mean, you know, you don’t mess with Zee,” Brad Marchand told the press about Paquette’s actions. “He took a pretty hard punch the first time and I don’t know what he was thinking going back. He must have forgot that we play them three more times. Hopefully, he’ll be sent down by then for his sake.”
The Bolts rookie picked the wrong night to make a statement in the first meeting of the season between the two teams.
Chara, however, picked a good night to help the Black and Gold win their fourth straight with their 4-3 triumph of their Atlantic Division foes. The victory puts the B’s in a tie with the Rangers – who fell to the Islanders on Tuesday – for the first wild card spot.
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“We can’t be just satisfied with winning four games in a row,” Chara said to the press after tallying 20:14 of ice time on Tuesday night. “We obviously have to enjoy [the win] tonight, but tomorrow is a new day to prepare for the next game and the game after and just continue to keep improving. It’s one of those things where you can’t get complacent just because you’ve won four in a row. We know that we’re still kind of in the bottom of the standings, and we want to climb up.”
The Bruins are getting their mojo back at a good time and their captain is slowly getting back to his Norris Trophy form after returning from a knee injury in early December.
Even at 37, there’s no denying that Chara can still hold his own against elite players like Steven Stamkos (who scored twice), while also holding his ground against those who dare to test him, like Paquette.
“The last few games, he’s been unbelievable defensively,” head coach Claude Julien said about Chara during his post game press conference. “All those little things he does like breaks up plays, you know, separates a guy from the puck, makes a simple pass and it’s a breakout pass. All those little things that make it hard for other teams’ top players to get any kind of momentum. He’s done a great job.
“I think what we want to see from Zdeno is number one, great leadership, and the other part of his game is – he’s still to me the best defensive defenseman in the league, where he’s the hardest defenseman to play against. And that’s my view of him.”