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Chara returns “Home” to Boston with Capitals.

Capitals beat Bruins in shootout 2-1

Yesterday was a bittersweet night in Beantown because for the first time their long-term former captain and stalwart Zdeno Chara steps back on the ice at the TD Garden. What I did not tell you is Chara is now playing for another team, and it is not just any team it is in my opinion the worst team in the NHL, the Washington Capitals.

Chara signed a one-year deal with the Caps for a little more than the veteran minimum. Chara’s time with the Bruins had reached a dead end. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney informed him that his contract was not going to be renewed. So now Chara returns to the TD Garden for the first time in an opponent’s jersey.

The Capitals and Bruins have played 2 times this year already, with both games in Washington, in those games, Chara scored against his old mates in a 5-3 Boston win. Washington is in first place in the MassMutual East Division hoping to keep that spot against a depleted Bruins squad.

The Bruins got back a few key players for the game. Long-time veteran forward David Krejci and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, as well as freshly claimed defenseman, Jarred Tinordi from Nashville. The Bruins were without key players also. The biggest name that was just added to the COVID-19 list today was forward Charlie Coyle.

Coyle has had a subpar year so far with 5 goals, 3 assists for 8 points in the 19 games. however, he is a depth guy. The other losses are forward Kevan Miller and Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.

The Capitals are getting healthy at exactly the right time. Evgeny Kuznetsov returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

The Capitals and Bruins are separated by 2 points making this a pivotal matchup for the two East Teams.

The goaltending matchup was quite intriguing. Vitek Vanacek will be in the net for the Capitals. He has been a pleasant surprise in lieu of the departure of Henrik Lundquvist for the year and foreseeable future with heart problems. To complicate matters the Capitals Russian contingent of Alex Ovechkin, the formerly mentioned Kuznetsov, Dimitry Orlov, and Goaltending prodigy Ilya Samsonov all were placed in the COVID protocol.

So Vanacek had to step-up.  He has done well in the 17 games he has played posting a 9-4-3 with a Goals Against Average of 2.81 and a save percentage of .909.

The Bruins the going with old reliable, Tuukka Rask.  Why would you not go with Rask? He has been the number 1 in Boston for an eternity. This season is not making that change anytime soon. Rask in the 12 games that he played is 8-3-1 with a Goals Against Average of 2.71 and a save percentage of .896.

It would have been interesting to see how fans would react when Chara hits the ice for the first time in a Capitals jersey.  Would they have chanted the former captain’s name like other teams have done for long-standing players in the past or would they have been the typical Boston fan base and booed him out of the building?

We will not know because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, because unlike other teams that are starting to allow fans to attend games, the city of Boston will not allow fans in the TD Garden until late March.

So, until then Boston fans will just have to react via social media for the return of the long-time captain.

Now the question is will Zdeno Chara be too emotional to help the Capitals beat his old team or will the big guy just bury the Bruins in Beantown.

Review

This game was a knockdown drag-out bar fight.  A little offense was thrown in with a goal or two.

Before the game, the Bruins did exactly what everyone expected.

They did a touching, and sympathetic tribute to their former captain with fans and the entire Bruins team tapping their sticks on the end boards in celebration and solidarity of thanking their former captain.

As for this game, it was a dirty game with lots of big hits. The first period was controlled by the Caps it was not until 8 minutes into the first that the Bruins even registered a shot on goal. They ended with 2 in the period.

There was a goal that was scored by TJ Oshie that upon review by Bruce Cassidy that the goal overturned due to a controversial offside call.

The puck was flipped into the Bruins zone and was hard to see on the replay. The linesman felt they could see the puck and it entered the zone after T.J Oshie.

The Second had a lot of solid hits. Shots not so much. The Bruins had 7 and the Caps managed 4.

It was the third period where all the action happened.  At 1:19 into the third period, a nice defensive play by Brad Marchand led to a David Pastranak goal to make it 1-0 Bruins.

The Capitals answered back at 6:14. The Capitals struck off a turnover created by Oshie made a beautiful pass to Nick Jensen who ripped it from the point. Rask made the initial save, but the rebound was buried by Lars Eller to tie this game up at 1.

Defense became the name of the game for the rest of the period. One play that people will be talking about was Alexander Ovechkin being checked by Travis Fredric. Ovi decided to pitchfork Frederic right in the forbidden region.

Both players got penalties. The true question is will Ovi get reprimanded by player safety for his actions?

This game went to Overtime. In Overtime it was Rask who saved the game for Boston. Forcing a shootout.

In the shootout, it was Jake Debrusk who went first for Boston. Vanacek made a routine save. Jakub Vrana was next up for the Capitals.  He came up the ice real slow and methodical with some nifty moves, poked it right by Rask to make it 1-0.

Vanacek had 18 saves in his 10th win of the season. Rask had 27 saves in the loss and now the Capitals are 4 points ahead of the Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Interesting game to watch and the next one should be just as fun on Friday.

Jeremy “Fox” Miller

@Jmiller911419

WWW.STLfanreport.com

 

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