Max Pacioretty admits Zdeno Chara has shut him down; ‘it’s gut check time’

Greg Wyshynski

Max Pacioretty anticipated the questions before Game 5 of the Montreal Canadiens’ series against the Boston Bruins. About how a 39 goal scorer in the regular season could score only one in eight playoff games. About his health, his confidence.

And his nemesis.

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has been pitted against the Canadiens’ top line for most of this series, and helped shut them down. Pacioretty has one point in four games. Ditto his center, David Desharnais.

“Chara’s been really good this series. He goes into battles not worrying about someone playing the body on him. He’s so big, he doesn’t have to worry about that. Obviously, he’s difficult to play against,” said Pacioretty on Saturday (video via Dave Stubbs).

Michel Therrien attempted to get his top goal scorer away from Chara in the games in Montreal, but the big defenseman still helped blanket him.

“Playing here, in this environment, I have to be relied upon to score important goals and I haven’t done that yet,” said Pacioretty.

Of course, these aren’t two random players. These are rivals with a history that’s been seared into the memories of hockey fans: The hit, the stanchion and the stretcher. The lack of suspension and the calls for severe punishment. The police investigation and the diagnosis of Dr. Recchi.

That 2011 incident between the two, in which Chara’s shove into the side boards’ stanchion broke Pacioretty’s neck, isn’t at the forefront of this rivalry. The Bruins and Canadiens faced each other in the playoffs that season, and Pacioretty and Chara have faced each other many times since then.

If anything, Pacioretty processed the controversy as a learning experience. "I definitely wish I could take some things back … some things how I handled it," he told Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika in 2012. "But at the end of the day, I learned a lot about myself as a player and myself as a person. I think I was forced to grow up in a short amount of time.

He’s 25 now, and the leading goal scorer for the Montreal Canadiens. Maturity brings clarity and perspective, which is why Pacioretty’s not panicking despite his lack of goals this postseason.

“The Tampa series is different than playing the best team in the NHL in the regular season. And we’re right there with them right now,” he said of the Bruins, whom the Canadiens play in Game 5 on Saturday night with the series tied 2-2.

He acknowledges the challenge of breaking through the Bruins’ defense – be it Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Tuukka Rask or any of the defensive forwards Boston throws against his line – and how that challenge is increased with Claude Julien getting the last line change.

“I’ve got to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity,” he said.

And that means overcoming the 6-foot-9 mountain that’s cast a shadow over him this series and throughout his career.

“The first four games, I’ll give him the edge. He was the better of the two players. But there’s three games left for me to prove myself and it’s real gut check time.”

  • Tim Tebow answered Stephen A. Smith's dumb question with a riveting inspirational speech

    Hate on Tim Tebow all you want, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most motivational guys in sports — period. On Tuesday he appeared with Stephen A. Smith on First Take and dropped the best speech you’ll hear all week. When he was criticized for taking a long shot at making an MLB roster, Tebow dropped the hammer.

    SB Nation
  • Giants finally release Josh Brown, John Mara cites team's 'misguided' actions

    Brown was left home from the Giants’ game against the Los Angeles Rams in London in Week 7 and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list by the NFL, granting the team a roster spot to replace him. Giants co-owner John Mara explained (via ESPN) why the team released Brown now and not when the allegations of abuse first surfaced, or after the shocking documents in which Brown admitted he abused his wife were released by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Nasty fight erupts over life-changing World Series of Poker hand

    English professional poker player William Kassouf uses his mouth to try an gain an advantage at the table, and has a history of tilting fellow pros. The tactic has made Kassouf a very polarizing pl…

    New York Post
  • NASCAR America: Brian Scott pleased with second-place finish at Talladega

    Richard Petty Motorsports announced it has partnered with the American Red Cross as the primary sponsor on the No. 44 of Brian Scott this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in an effort to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Scott’s car will feature text message code fans can use in order to donate to the Red Cross’ efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month. Fans can help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999, which will be featured on the No. 44 Ford Fusion this weekend, to make a $10 donation. “With the significance that Hurricane Matthew had on the Carolinas, Virginia and really all of the Southeast coast, we knew it was extremely important to give back to our community in a partnership with the American Red Cross,” Richard Petty said in a press release.

    NASCAR Talk
  • Tigers not likely to deal Kinsler

    While Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila recently told local reporters he will be looking to cut payroll and shake up his roster before next season, Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech believes the Tigers have no interest in trading 2B Ian Kinsler and RHP Justin Verlander. "We want to get younger," Avila said two weeks ago. "We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means." Kinsler, 34, who hit .288 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs this season, will earn just $21 million over the next two years and be eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. Matthew Cerrone | Snapchat | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | About Me The Mets technically need a second baseman.

  • Experienced Cup drivers limited to 17 Xfinity and Truck Series races a year starting in 2017

    Kyle Busch will only be able to make 10 Xfinity Series starts in 2017. A rule limiting Sprint Cup drivers in NASCAR’s No. 2 and No. 3 series is official. NASCAR said Wednesday that Cup drivers with five years full-time experience in the series will be limited to 10 Xfinity races and seven Camping World Truck Series races a season starting in 2017.

    From The Marbles
  • BBC survey finds 8% of fans would stop watching their team if it had a gay player

    A survey of more than 4,000 people, conducted by BBC Radio 5 Live, has found that 82% of soccer fans in England, Scotland and Wales would have no problem with having a gay player on their team. A lack of acceptance of gay players has made headlines in the NFL in recent years, and it remains a taboo subject in the European game. The first player to come out in England was Justin Fashanu in 1990.

    FC Yahoo
  • Why the Cubs benched their $184M outfielder for World Series Game 1

    When the Chicago Cubs announced their lineup for Game 1 of the World Series, one big, expensive name was missing: Jason Heyward, the outfielder whom they signed to a $184 million, eight-year contract this past offseason. Instead, Joe Maddon put journeyman Chris Coghlan in right field. Two things: Yes, Maddon calls Jason Heyward “Jeyward” and Maddon said things could easily be different in Game 2, which makes sense considering how much he tinkers with the Cubs’ lineup.

    Big League Stew
  • Jonathan Bernier exits Ducks game at Sharks with upper-body injury

    Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier exited his team’s Tuesday game against the San Jose Sharks with an upper body injury. It’s unclear when exactly Bernier was hurt. It was just the second game for Bernier with his new team this season.

    Puck Daddy
  • Jabrill Peppers makes inroads, but Lamar Jackson still Bovada’s overwhelming Heisman favorite

    Most observers have already handed the 2016 Heisman Trophy to Lamar Jackson, but there are still a couple of players who could make the race at least mildly interesting. The Louisville quarterback is, once again,‘s overwhelming favorite to win this year’s Heisman, coming in at 1/3 (bet three dollars to win one). Those are slightly shorter odds than the 1/2 Jackson was getting a week ago. Tied at 15/2 are Michigan’s jack-of-all-trades Jabrill Peppers and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Peppers was at 33/1 just three weeks ago, while Watson, the preseason wagering favorite, will have a high-profile matchup with Florida State in which to bolster his Heisman pedigree and chip into Jackson’s

    NBC Sports: CollegeFootballTalk
  • Unhappy 49ers fan edits Trent Baalke's Wikipedia page

    The San Francisco 49ers might be the worst team in the NFL. Yes, the Cleveland Browns are winless, but taking a glance at the 49ers roster, there’s not a lot there. As The Mercury-News discovered on Monday, someone did some … creative editing to Baalke’s Wikipedia page.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Is Jake Browning the nation's best quarterback?

    Dr. Saturday's Graham Watson takes a look at the Washington Huskies quarterback in this week's Heisman Watch.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • The PGA Tour Sells Golf to China

    Marty Dou knew at 17 years old that he should turn professional. "We don't often see an Asian-born player swinging that hard." Compliments from a two-time Masters winner aside, Marty, now 19, is currently the best golfer playing in China—and could soon become the first mainland Chinese golfer to compete at the top global level. "I'm too tempted by parties." Luckily for him, he didn't have to leave China for a shot at golf's biggest stage.

  • Welcome to the Tim Tebow baseball and PR Experience

    In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie. I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me. It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah

  • Griezmann wins best player award in Spain for last season

    VALENCIA, Spain (AP) Antoine Griezmann has won the best player award in the Spanish league for last season. The Atletico Madrid forward was announced as the winner in a ceremony organized by La Liga in Valencia on Monday. The Frenchman was not at the ceremony. Atletico also had Diego Simeone win the best coach award, Diego Godin earn the best defender award, and Jan Oblak clinch best goalkeeper. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was selected as the best forward, and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric as the best midfielder. Team captains voted for the top players in each position, while a data-analysis system generated the best player award. Barcelona won the Spanish league last season, ahead of Real Madrid and

  • Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields turning pro

    Claressa Shields celebrates after winning her second Olympic gold medal. There will be no third gold medal for Claressa Shields. The only American to win a boxing gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004 is turning professional and will make her pro debut on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas on the undercard of the Ward-Sergey Kovalev pay-per-view show.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Kyle Schwarber added to Cubs' World Series roster

    For a team that’s supposed to be cursed, everything seems to be coming up in the Chicago Cubs’ favor right now. The Cubs will not only enter their first World Series in 71 years as the overwhelming favorite, but they’ll also do so with a player who was expected to miss the entire season. Joe Maddon then said Kyle Schwarber would be the team’s DH in Game 1. Relief pitcher Rob Zastryzny who hadn’t appeared thus far for the Cubs this postseason.

    Big League Stew
  • Calgary's start, injured Stars and Chicago's PK (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 18: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) (Ed. Note: The column

    Puck Daddy
  • Donald Trump once helped conduct the English League Cup draw

    In a matter of days, Donald Trump could become one of the most powerful people on the planet. Twenty-five years ago, he found himself drawing Norwich and Middlesbrough our of a green felt bag in the League Cup quarter-final draw. While in the Big Apple, the crew needed to take care of the matter of drawing the final eight teams in the League Cup. According to The Guardian, relatively-fresh-faced 45-year-old Trump had already agreed to an interview and subsequently agreed to the help decide the fate of England’s second-biggest cup contest.

    FC Yahoo
  • Melvin Gordon on his confidence, breakout 2016

    Yahoo Sports' Evan Doherty talks with San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon about his huge start to the 2016 season, motivation from fans and major injuries in the offense.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Greg Cosell's Week 7 Review: The Colts' adjustments, and Andrew Luck's execution

    The Indianapolis Colts had some offensive obstacles to overcome last week. The Colts had to rethink their personnel groupings because receivers Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief were out. The Colts still had quarterback Andrew Luck, and he was excellent.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Snap totals point to which tight end the Steelers could release if Ladarius Green is activated

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have a predicament on their hands when the team comes out of the bye week and starts preparing for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. Some might think the predicament is whether Ladarius Green is ready to be activated to the 53-man roster yet, a task they have 21 days to officially do, but the real question is not if, but when, Green is activated, who becomes the odd man out at the tight end position? The current tight end depth chart reads as follows (in no particular order): Jesse James Xavier Grimble David Johnson There is no debate about Jesse James. The 2015 5th round draft pick has been the main man at the tight end position, routinely playing more than 90-percent of

    Behind the Steel Curtain
  • Georgia's top 2 tacklers cleared following marijuana investigation

    Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick (6) leads the team with 42 tackles. Two Georgia linebackers have been cleared to play against Florida on Saturday. Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick, the team’s two leading tacklers, will not be suspended after they were investigated for possession of marijuana.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Kudos to Fox for not going crazy with the curses

    I turned on last night’s Fox broadcast fully expecting them to spend too much time on history and curses and billy goats and black cats and Steve Bartman and 1908 and 1948 and all of that jive while spending too little time on the game and the players at hand. I will admit now that I was pleasantly surprised that that was not, in fact, the case. To be clear, the pregame show was a friggin’ train wreck in this department. There the narrative framing was basically wall-to-wall. In the first segment, Fox studio host Kevin Burkhardt used the phrase “reverse the curse” within his first thirty seconds of speaking. Then, before much if any actual game stuff was referred to, Burkhardt mentioned all of

  • Report: Jose Mourinho willing to let Wayne Rooney leave

    Wayne Rooney‘s future at Manchester United seems increasingly uncertain. A report in the Sun newspaper states that United’s captain and talisman, 31, has been told by manager Jose Mourinho that he can leave if it’s regular game time he wants. Rooney hasn’t started any of United’s last four Premier League games and was left out of their squad for the 4-0 thumping at Chelsea last weekend with a small injury. Per the report, Mourinho has spoken to Rooney’s advisers and has told them he can not guarantee the England national team captain a starting role. There’s no doubting Rooney’s huge impact at United over the past 12 years since he arrived at Old Trafford. He’s won five Premier League titles,