How goaltending, defense and Brad Marchand ruined Zdeno Chara’s 1000th Bruins game

Matt Kalman
January 13, 2020 - 11:41 pm

There were a lot of overjoyed people around the NHL on Monday night.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Zdeno Chara and his teammates weren’t among the group celebrating.

But you can believe that everyone not affiliated with the Bruins in some manner got quite the chuckle out of watching super agitator and world-class goal scorer Brad Marchand’s shootout attempt (a term we use lightly here) that clinched the Philadelphia Flyers a 6-5 comeback victory on Monday in Chara’s 1,000th game as a Bruin.

With the Bruins trailing 1-0 in the fifth round of the shootout, Marchand skated toward the puck at center ice and just grazed it as he continued on without it on his blade. That counted as his shot attempt (don’t worry, he’s a Bruins player, so he wasn’t going to score anyway) and the Flyers congratulated goalie Carter Hart has if he’d stopped some reincarnation of Connor McDavid’s goal against Toronto from last week.

“Trying to get going and just missed it,” Marchand, who’s 0-for-7 in the shootout this season for the Bruins, who are 0-7 in shootouts, told the media in Philadelphia.

Marchand’s gaffe epitomized the Bruins’ night but was far from the reason they lost. After all, Marchand, who has 63 points in 47 games this season, has done enough positive things this season and in his Bruins career to be quickly forgiven for the whiff heard ‘round North America.

But he still shares the blame for the second game the Bruins lost this season after holding a three-goal lead with the 17 other skaters and goalie Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins took a 5-2 lead in the second period and the Flyers responded like any self-respecting NHL team: they made a push. The Bruins’ response to that push was to stop managing the puck, stop defending and, as Chara put it in his postgame media scrum, “let up.”

There were some funny bounces. There were some bounces that could’ve been prevented (Halak could’ve done without Matt Grzelcyk firing a puck off his pad before Travis Sanheim scored the tying goal.). And there were some bad goals, as Sean Couturier proved with his mishandle that snuck through Halak’s five-hole.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this on a night the Bruins were supposed to honor their captain. Even the 2016-17 Bruins, Chara’s first Boston team, never lost a game on a swing and a miss in a shootout, and that team was terrible.

“You want to win these type of games,” Chara said, “but that’s just the way it goes.”

Perhaps coach Bruce Cassidy should’ve shown a flair for the dramatic and turned to Chara in the shootout. The 6-foot-9 rocket launcher is 3-for-11 in his NHL career in shootouts, with the threat of his slap shot enough to make goalies shudder before the attempt even begins.

The Bruins are now 4-for-30 on shootout attempts, and Cassidy’s going to have to do something different because the difference between winning the Atlantic Division and falling behind the Tampa Bay Lightning could be the difference in an easier first-round matchup and a second long postseason run in as many years, or a more difficult first round and running out of gas.

These shootout points could turn out to be crucial.

Boston can at least take solace that they got the one point and have picked up three points through two games of their road trip. If they string together some wins, they’ll be able to have a laugh at Marchand’s expense, the way the rest of the hockey world probably did after his center-ice blunder.

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