SUNRISE, FL – It wasn’t the best of starts for Zdeno Chara in this strange 48-game abridged NHL season. The nadir was surely Chara’s uncharacteristically harried effort against the Buffalo Sabres when he was a minus-3 and the Bruins defense surrendered seven goals. Like a true team captain should, Chara was able to brush that game off his broad shoulders and has been much more like his 6-foot-9 intimidating self over the last few weeks for a Bruins team that’s only lost twice in regulation amid their first 14 games.
Chara is a plus-4 with a pair of assists in seven games during the month of February, and picked up an assist in Boston’s win over Tampa on a slick slap-pass to Nathan Horton for a tipped goal.
Overall his seven points in 14 games and 25:12 of ice time per night are exactly the kind of excellence those around the Bruins have come to expect from their captain.
Surprisingly Chara only has one power play point in 14 games with significant PP ice time, and that’s been one of the least discussed issues facing Boston’s man advantage over the first month of the season.But the Bruins defenseman is paid first and foremost to stop top offensive players in his own end of the ice rather than ripping slappers on the power play, and he’s once again doing his job with machine-like efficiency.
“Through the course of the season nobody is great every night, but what you want from your players is for them to be good every night. He’s been extremely good for us,” said Claude Julien. “Besides that Buffalo game where he was on the ice for a lot of goals against, he continues to do the same job every year and that’s shut down top players.”
Does Chara ever get overlooked in the mind of his coach because he’s been so consistent during his six seasons with the Bruins?
“Anybody who wins a Norris Trophy and is in the running every year isn’t a guy that gets overlooked. I think he’s appreciated by not just his teammates, but by everybody around the league.”
There’s a reason Chara is the player his peers least enjoy playing against, and that’s more of the same again this year as the Bruins continue to rampage their way through the NHL season.