Johnny Hockey hatty lifts Flames in OT

I’ll do more via Final Buzzer tomorrow, but the Boston Bruins overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead into the final seconds before coughing it up on a Jiri Hudler strike with 1.2 ticks left to send the game at the Scotia Bank Saddledome to overtime. Johnny Gaudreau completed his hat trick in memorable fashion after Zdeno Chara inexplicably tried a fancy, behind-the-back pass that was picked off and sent the Flames off on a jailbreak rush.

Game, set, match.

It was a rough night for Chara all around despite scoring his fifth goal of the season in a multi-point effort- his giveaway resulted in Gaudreau’s first goal of the night, just 33 seconds in. The captain was also on the ice and unable to get to a weak David Krejci clearing attempt that was slowed down by the end-of-game ice surface and held in, resulting in the tying goal. To top it off, he took a delay of game with 2:17 left in regulation for putting the puck out of play.

So, yes- you hate to pile on Chara because he’s been such a top performer over the years, but the team rightfully expects and should get better play from its most senior veteran and top d-man (though Chara’s place among the NHL’s other No. 1s is rapidly diminishing). Mistakes are understandable, but a giveaway like the one he made in OT is not.

He simply has to be better in that situation and others from here on out. This defense is simply not talented or balanced enough to survive nights when Chara’s head is writing checks his aging body can’t cash.

Yes, the Bruins got a point in the standings, but they’ve surrendered two points to teams below them in the standings now in the last two games. We saw this movie last year and it didn’t end well. You simply cannot give away opportunities.

The dedicated Chara fans out there will point to the offense or point out mistakes made by others in predictable fashion to justify his mediocrity in Calgary, and they aren’t completely incorrect. Sure- he had a couple of points tonight, but this is an important example of a player getting on the scoresheet but not having a strong performance in the final review. When the question is asked of whether Chara was there when the team needed him most tonight, the execution was lacking.

Claude Julien has no problem hammering and benching the Zach Trotmans and Joe Morrows of the world when they screw up on ice. Let’s see if he has the moral courage and intestinal fortitude to jerk a knot in the captain’s ass over this one.

Probably not, but the team can’t afford too many more of these nights, even as entertaining as the game certainly was.

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