BOSTON — Obviously the entire Bruins organization breathed a collective sigh of relief when the NHL announced it would rescind the instigator penalty against defenseman Zdeno Chara, and the coinciding suspension for Monday’s Game 6.
But no one exhaled harder that Chara, who will now get to try to help his team finish off Buffalo in the sixth game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
“I think the league did a great job recognizing the whole situation,” said Chara after practice at TD Garden today. “Obviously, I wasn’t initiating, I was just responding.”
Despite his size and toughness, Chara is truly a gentlemanly sort — that is, until he is pushed over the edge. Opposing players go into every game knowing that the only way to beat Chara is to get him off his game, but he usually controls his temper.
Paul Gaustad’s slash to the back of Chara’s ankles, however, pushed the captain too far.
“There’s no need to do what Gaustad did,” said Chara, “particularly after the game is over. You’ve got to take that reaction. The game is over.”
For the most part the Bruins have predicted there will be no carry-over from the Game 5-ending melee to Game 6. Winger Shawn Thornton, who would usually be asked to police things when a team takes liberties with Boston’s best players, said that because of the magnitude of the game that element is thrown out the window.
“It’d probably be a little different during the regular season,” said Thornton. “This time of year, we turn the page, we go win a game.”
Milan Lucic probably put the Bruins’ attitude toward the situation best.
“Obviously you don’t like to see that at the end of the game, with guys going after anybody on your team, but especially your captain,” said the winger. “Everybody knows the best way to get back at them is having a good effort, a good start and sticking them where it really hurts.”