The Montreal Canadiens entered tonight’s game against Boston having won four straight, and they were cruising with a 4-0 lead in the closing minutes of the second period.

Then suddenly a win over their Northeast division rivals didn’t seem to matter much.

With 16 seconds left in the period and the Canadiens breaking out of their zone, forward Max Pacioretty pushed the puck through the neutral zone while skirting along the Boston bench to avoid an oncoming Zdeno Chara. He didn’t avoid the hulking defenceman, or the glass divider that separates the two benches.

Chara received a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, meaning the play will receive an automatic review and the proverbial spin on the Wheel of Justice. But in the immediate aftermath of the hit, Pacioretty’s condition was far more concerning. He laid motionless on the ice for several minutes while doctors and trainers carefully placed him on a stretcher.

Early reports from the Canadiens’ official Twitter account indicated that Pacioretty was conscious and moving all his extremities. He was taken to a hospital for further testing.

The Interwebs were immediately ablaze with calls for a book of some kind to be thrown at Chara, and cries of the hit being premeditated. There is a slight history between the two after Pacioretty bumped Chara following his overtime winner back in January. But this was more the result of stupidity than intent.

Chara and Pacrioretty originally made contact while fighting for the puck, and Chara did his job by rubbing his man out and separating him from the play. Where Chara showed a severe lack of intelligence and awareness of his position on the ice is in his decision to continue the play. With the puck a fair distance from the two players and trickling through centre ice, Chara extended his arm and followed through with his hit, resulting in Pacioretty’s collision with the glass divider.

Chara’s job is to use his hulking frame to establish a physical presence. But this was beyond the boundaries of finishing a check. The play had ended, and Chara’s added and unnecessary force could have caused a serious injury.

Despite his poor judgment, it’s difficult to envision Chara receiving any further punishment. The play deserved a penalty, and Chara was sent to the dressing room, but the injury and scary scene was the result of unfortunate geography. Put the play on the opposite side of the rink and the interference call stands, but the injury doesn’t happen.

Here’s the post-game reaction to the hit from around the Habs’ dressing room and from Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

And now to round out a night of bad decisions, here’s Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid drilling Darroll Powe from behind.

Comments (7)

  1. When the nhl going to really papers safety as to come first. enough is enough with all this dirty places. the game dosnt need that stuff in it.

  2. when the nhl going to realize that players safety as to come first? Enough is enough with all this head shots.

  3. [...] captain Zdeno Chara is drawing a range of reactions from around the hockey world following his devastating hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Some aren’t buying the simple ‘it wasn’t intentional, it’s just that Chara [...]

  4. First i’m going to admit to everyone that looks at this post that I’m a Montreal Canadiens fan.That is unchanging so to some this could be considered bias but the NHL has to get their heads out of the sand.
    Chara is the captain of the Bruins. He wears a “C” on his shoulder with that in mind that immediately makes him and embassador to the game. I’m not a Bruins fan, Leaf fan, Red Wing fan, Rangers fan, and I not a fan of bush league hockey and cheapshot artist.
    Draper, Turgeon, Savard, Booth, Bergeon, Crosby, Lindros,……the list goes on and on, each and every last one of the done a disservice by a cheapshot!
    Zdeno can say whatever he wants to the media 21,000 plus fans saw what he did. Watch the clip. Watch him use his left arm at the elbow and drive Pacioretty into the divider. Watch were Chara is looking when he is deliverying this late hit? He knew exactly what he was doing. Just like some of the other wounded listed above. It was dumb and extremely reckless. Had Pacioretty had his neck snapped I wonder what he would be saying now? This was clearly retrobution for the shove long gone by and the hit he took from Pacioretty earlier in the game. Chara is not worthy to be a captain of anything. It’s obvious there is very few if any that can stand toe-to-toe with the man. He has nothing to prove.
    The previous game against the Canadiens was disgusting to say the least, there is no more room in this game ANYMORE where fighting is justified though I would be a hypocrite because I was looking for justice last night.
    These head shots have to come to an end in this game. If fans of this game ever wonder why the league suffers for exposure these are the reasons. The NHL as far as I see it is getting exposure for ALL the wrong reasons. This is how they make headlines, teams needing bailouts, concussions. Nothing more.
    There is NO respect for the fellow player and that is the failure of this league not to mention that they still keep rules in a game that has evolved and can now have serious impact on lives.
    The hit that Max took last night is NOT part of this game. Chara has played hockey since he was an infant, so him saying to the media that he was not aware of his surroundings is garbage! He’s played in the Bell Center and he damn well knows where is on the ice at all times. That was just oportunity last night to cause injury to someone that was pissing him off. Anyone that condones that type of hit is dazed and confused? Because I sure know if my head had gone into that partition at that rate of speed I was sure not just going to embrace that’s “part of the game”?? Chara was beat and he should have let up but he could find it within himself to do as such.
    But considering that the league supports all the violence what’s the point. I’ve told my friend sooner or later we are going see one of these guys killed right before our eyes on a blatant cheap shot and that is ONLY when the league will realize the mess it is in?
    So Gauthier I hold you now responsible for what happened. You let the Habs get pushed around in a game and did nothing really at the trade deadline. Every Bruins fan knew that the game leading up to yesterday’s was the Bruins attempting to bully the Canadiens around the rink. They made their point. They’re the Big Bad Bruins aren’t they tough?! Lucic chases after the smallest players but when Laraque was calling him out he was hidding behind Chara’s skirt! IF this is what this game is all about then I hope someone will hurt Chara in a “hockey play” like last nights and step up on the mic and say nonsense. Did you listen to Price? He didn’t call Chara out be he said ” All players should be aware of their surroundings.”
    This league does not have any respect for the fellow player, none. I hope that Pacioretty recovers well.
    Last note and I hope Milbury hears this,…thank you. Thank you as a broadcaster and ex-NHL player to finally admit that fighting is no longer needed in this game!

  5. [...] Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was drilled by Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara last night into the glass divider that separates the two benches. The hit took place in the dying seconds of the second period, and Pacioretty laid motionless on [...]

  6. [...] Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was drilled by Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara last night into the glass divider that separates the two benches. The hit took place in the dying seconds of the second period, and Pacioretty laid motionless on [...]

  7. [...] needed any more fuel added to its fire, Mark Recchi doused it gasoline with his comments about the March 8 incident between Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty. In an appearance on WBZ Boston’s Felger & [...]

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