Update: Looks like that Zdeno Chara hit wasn’t worth a second look after all.
No hearing for Chara, according to league spokesperson— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 27, 2019
Initially I wrote that the NHL Department of Player Safety was looking at that hit Chara put on Evander Kane in the third period. Chara’s shoulder comes in contact with Kane’s head whether intentionally or not and Kane pops up, looks at the refs and then decides to respond since there’s no penalty on the play. After the game, it looked like the league would take a look, but sadly no.
NHL Player Safety is taking a look at Chara’s hit on Kane. Whether or not anything comes of it, we shall see. https://t.co/7SJq750KuR— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 27, 2019
I’ll take an in-depth look at the entire Chara hit a little later, but the whole decision kind of makes you wonder what a star like Connor McDavid did to piss off the DoPS.
Sharks fans will point to some poor officiating as part of the reason for the 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, but the truth of the matter is, poor defense was the real culprit.
The Sharks showed confidence in Martin Jones and Aaron Dell at the trade deadline, standing pat. That’s why it’s hard to watch Jones take a loss to a Stanley Cup contender like the Bruins the very next night. Take solace Sharks’ fans, it was not all his fault.
Jones made 27 saves on 31 shots for a .871 save percentage. If you look at the heat map courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, you’ll see that it’s en fuego around Jones in all those high danger scoring areas.
A number of odd-man rushes left the Sharks’ goaltender hanging out to dry.
In addition, the Sharks just weren’t possessing the puck. Looking at score- and venue-adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi for, you can see that the Sharks did not control the puck as well as they have in games past. Even when they did have the puck, they never really took over the game.
Taking a look at all situations and things look even worse.
The Bruins had the puck, a lot. That probably explains why the Sharks only scored one goal. You can’t score if you don’t have the puck — at least that’s what I’ve been told.
The stats aside, there’s also bad news on the roster front. It looks like Erik Karlsson was put back into the mix a little too quickly. The defenseman had 14:24 of ice time and did not come out of the locker room for the third period.
Early in the second period, Karlsson was trying to pivot when he seemed to lose his balance. It looks like he aggravated the strained groin muscle that kept him out earlier in the season.
In the first period of play, both teams came out firing. The Sharks looked like they were going to match the Bruins all night, play for play. Jones was solid in net, making some big saves early on. Things looked good.
The Sharks killed off a two-minute slashing penalty by Justin Braun and then 11:58 into the period, it was team teal’s turn to go on the man-advantage. They managed to capitalize. Logan Couture scored his 23rd goal of the season, unassisted.
You can see Jaroslav Halak fails to play the puck correctly behind the net. Tomas Hertl picks it up and drives to the front of the net. In the scramble, Couture somehow finds the puck and taps it in. 1-0, Sharks.
If you just wanted to see the Sharks’ goals, stop reading here because there will be no more.
Two minutes after scoring, the Sharks began a string of trips to the penalty box. Timo Meier was called for a high-stick on Jake DeBrusk. It drew blood and there was four-minutes of penalty time to kill off.
Boston wasted no time, David Krejci netted his 15th of the season just 10 seconds in.
Not a lot of white jerseys there to help Jones out.
The period ended tied 1-1.
In the second period, Jones did his best to keep the Sharks in the game.
Martin Jones appreciation tweet. pic.twitter.com/fJFaqSiGak— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) February 27, 2019
Sadly, it was not meant to be. A little over nine minutes into the period, Shark killer Charlie McAvoy went top shelf on Jones.
55 seconds later, DeBrusk added one of his own.
Just like that, it was 3-1, Boston.
The Sharks had a chance to get back into it when Sean Kuraly was called for tripping Joe Thornton. Instead of scoring on the power play, the Sharks allowed Brad Marchand to pick up the puck in the neutral zone and work his way through the Sharks’ defense to score.
The Sharks allowed four unanswered goals and bodies started to fly.
Kane was handed a four-minute double minor after getting into it with Sean Kuraly. Kuraly received two-minutes of his own on the play. Before Kane was out of the box, Barclay Goodrow got into a scrap with Chris Wagner and both men finished the period in the locker room.
Things did not get better in the third. About three minutes into the period, Kane and Chara came together for the first time. Chara got the better of Kane, but Kane continued to work in the Boston zone, trying to make something happen for the Sharks. He went behind the Boston net, where he literally met a Chara shoulder head on.
While there was no initial call, Chara eventually received two minutes for elbowing. Kane received two minutes for instigating and also received a 10 minute game misconduct. Both men received five minutes for fighting.
Even in the box, Kane was livid that the hit to the head was not called. Less than 30 seconds later, he was invited to leave the game and received a second game misconduct, I would guess for verbally abusing the refs.
On the faceoff after Kane’s second game misconduct, things continued to boil. Micheal Haley jumped in on the action, dropping the gloves with David Backes. Both received five minute fighting majors and led to my favorite quote of the game by Randy Hahn.
“It’s their fault that David Backes just got punched in the mush,” commented Hahn following the fight. He then proceeded to call out the officiating crew by name.
Former Sharks’ beat writer for David Pollak had an opinion on the Chara hit as well.
I happened to find a clip of the Bruins announcers and they went so far as to accuse Kane of jumping Chara. No mention of a hit to the head so watch only if you’ve taken your blood pressure medication this morning.
Evander Kane goes after and fights Zdeno Chara after getting dropped pic.twitter.com/NKNpxdO7GF— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 27, 2019
After the game, Kane was happy to chime in.
“It was a hit right to my face, head, whatever you want to call it, clearly,” said Kane. “I get up and look at the ref who’s watching it from the corner, he’s standing there with both arms down and I’m absolutely stunned.
“I guess if I’m going to be, I guess officiated in a different way, what am I supposed to do besides defend myself? I’m not going to sit there and take a direct shot to the head.
“I watched the replay. He looks like he elevates his shoulder to my head. I know he’s a big boy ... looks the exact same to me. That’s a classic head shot.”
In the media scrum after the game, Chara said he was, “just playing hard and finishing my check.”
“It’s a physical game,” Chara continued. “Probably some of frustration on his part, not sure, I can’t really speak for him. I’m bracing myself for check, it just happened.”
The Boston media moved on from there, so that’s all we’ll hear from Chara on the matter unless the Department of Player Safety decides to suspend him.
The Sharks now head home after the four-game road trip. Their next game will be at home against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.