What was more surprising on Monday: Zdeno Chara's first career hat trick or the fact that the mild-mannered blueliner displayed a pretty nifty celebration as the hats fell to the ice?
After the captain scored with a slapshot on the power play in the third period to make it 7-0, Chara made as though he was taking off an imaginary hat and gave it a backhanded toss as his teammates surrounded him. It wasn't a case of rubbing it in, but the clever move isn't something one would expect to see from Chara too often. In fact, the captain admitted that he didn't even come up with the move, and that he saw Peter Bondra do it years ago while Bondra was with the Capitals and Chara was with the Islanders.
"I kind of remembered [thinking], 'If I ever get a hat trick, I want to do the same,'" Chara said after the game. "I thought it was pretty cool."
The celebration was of course in good fun, but if the Hurricanes had a problem with it, they can't exactly play the "act like you've done it before" card. When a guy becomes just the fourth blueliner in his team's history (Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Glen Wesley) to score three in a game, he can celebrate how he sees fit no matter what the score is.
"I'm sure [the Hurricanes] didn't like it too much," Adam MacQuaid, who had two assists on the day, said after the game with a grin. "… He was excited. What can you do?"
The Bruins have now gotten hat tricks from players in two of the last four games. Patrice Bergeron picked up the first of his career when he scored three goals against the Senators last Tuesday.
Speaking of Hat Tricks, here's another one:
A WELL-ROUNDED BEAT FOR BLUELINE
Think back to that Jan. 1 shootout loss to the Sabres. The game quickly went from, "Hey, the defense is scoring," to, "Maybe if the defensemen were more focused on doing their jobs the Bruins could have won." The three first-period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, Chara and a third-period tally from Steven Kampfer didn't leave the B's fans celebrating two points that game, instead leaving them rather frustrated with their blueliners.
On Monday, the B's blueliners combined for four goals (three from Chara and one from Mark Stuart) and four assists. More importantly, their defensive contributions didn't suffer as a result. In fact, they made it a very difficult day for Hurricanes forwards and helped Tim Thomas as he picked up his ever-changing career-high seventh shutout this season.
Thomas credited the defense after the game, admitting that it was "one of [his] easier shutouts."
The Bruins defenseman were able to get things going offensively, but more importantly, they gave the Hurricanes very few opportunities, and Thomas was there when they came.
Stuart wore a brace underneath his glove and added that he had "some protection outside" as well. He said he's been wearing it for a couple of weeks and that the added protection isn't hindering him during the game. By the looks of his game Monday, he probably won't be too worried about keeping it on for the next couple of weeks.
"He didn’t have the shakiness that sometimes can happen when you haven’t played in a while," Thomas said of Stuart. "He was very calm with the puck. He made good plays, and he was very strong. A lot of times when you come back from an injury, it seems like you’re a step behind and he was definitely not that. He stepped right in and played with midseason form."
BUILDING UP TO WHAT SHOULD BE AN EXCITING ONE TUESDAY
In case you have post-traumatic amnesia from recent goings-on in the NFL, when a team crushes another team, the next matchup can be pretty entertaining. With the Hurricanes and Bruins now taking turns shutting one another out, they will break the tie in the season series when they meet Tuesday in Carolina.
Given the fact that the B's chased Cam Ward early, dropped seven goals on the Canes and even had Adam McQuaid reign victorious over Troy Bodie, there isn't much doubt that the Hurricanes want another crack at the B's to redeem themselves.
"[After the first two goals] we just got smoked," Carolina forward Eric Staal said. "We get another chance at it [Tuesday] and we are going to be ready."
"The one thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to have an opponent that’s more determined and a lot better than they were [Monday]," Julien added. "So instead of a 7-0 game, you’re going to have a much different game. If we’re not ready for that, then the same thing could happen to us."
BRUINS MIGHT HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE TUESDAY
With Mark Stuart back, Andrew Ference is now the only injured B's defenseman, and Claude Julien said Tuesday that he's a possibility for Tuesday night's game. If Ference returns, who sits?
It would seem to be down to two guys in McQuaid and Steven Kampfer, and it would be tough to sit either one right now. McQuaid has three points in his last three games and is a plus-8 over his last four. Then there's Kampfer, who also has three points over his last three.
"It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a good situation to be in," Julien said. "You’ve created some competition now and everybody wants to be in the lineup. The only guy that’s going to have tough decisions to make [given] the way guys are playing right now is me."
Both McQuaid and Kampfer established themselves as viable options while playing in place of an injured blueliner. McQuaid stepped in with Johnny Boychuk out and was solid enough for the team to trade Matt Hunwick. Kampfer, meanwhile, got the call following Stuart's injury and has six points in 18 games.
"Everyone is capable here," McQuaid said after the game. "I’m not worrying about too much. When the time comes, we’ll see what happens. But it’s always kind of in my mindset; just when I get the opportunities I want to try and make the most of it, just try and make their decision as tough as possible."