Close friends Chara, Hossa set to do battle

Close friends Chara, Hossa set to do battle
June 12, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa will have to put their friendship aside during the Stanley Cup Finals.

(AP Images)

CHICAGO -– The Chicago Blackhawks will present some unique challenges to the Bruins and their intimidating 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara. Sure, the Blackhawks are talented offensively and have the kind of top-drawer elite talent that will challenge the entire Bruins defense.

But it will be one individual match-up in particular that could hold some unique intrigue for Chicago and Boston, as lifelong friends and neighbors Marian Hossa and Chara are expected to do battle on the ice throughout the series. 

Chara has been nothing but business throughout the playoffs with clipped answers and colorless clichés, but he was forced to admit that Hossa was his good friend.

The Slovaks are such good friends, in fact, that they both served as the other's best man when they were married. They also both started together as members of the Ottawa Senators organization.

But all of the goodwill and buddy-buddy stuff will cease from Big Zee’s end once the puck is dropped.

“We know each other for many years, from back home. Obviously we cannot ignore that we know each other, we know the families,” said Chara, who has 11 points and a plus-12 in 16 games while averaging 29:21 of ice time through a Herculean body of work in the postseason. “But we all know that right now our jobs are play for our teams and compete, and do whatever it takes to win games."

Hossa has been on a great run with four Stanley Cup Finals appearances in the last six years. The 34-year-old isn’t the biggest player on the ice, but he plays with strength and force bigger than his actual listed size and is one of the toughest players in the league to handle while working around the net. 

“I've been saying that for many years," Chara said, "that [Hossa] is one of the best players in the league.”

Hossa and Bryan Bickell give Chicago the kind of willingness to “pay the price” physically to get to the net that Boston never saw out of a soft Penguins team.

That wide array of skills allowed Hossa to score seven goals and put up 14 points for the Blackhawks along with a plus-8 in 17 games, and serve as the perfect hard-nosed complement to the skill of Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews. 

It appears Chara and Dennis Seidenberg will pull duty against the Toews/Hossa/Patrick Sharp line to start things off, and that should be one of the marquee matchups throughout.

Hossa knows he’ll be in for a tough time every shift he’s out there wrestling with his pal, a literal NHL giant.

“It's going to be really interesting," Hossa said. "Obviously we are good friends. He's my neighbor. He lives right across the street. But for two weeks, that has to go on the side and we just have to play the roles. I going to play my game, he's going to play his game. I'm sure right after we'll be friends again. It's going to be hard two weeks, hard battle. It's going to be also fun and I really looking forward to it.

“He's the biggest guy on the ice. His stick is so big. If you don't move your feet, he's going to hurt you, he's going to come close to you and pin you on the board. You have to make sure you're moving your feet, stop and start. It's not easy. If it's possible, it's better to play on the other side.”

That “other side” will be inhabited by Seidenberg, who is no piece of cake either. 

Chara hasn't left his good friend much in the way of options, but that's the way it goes in the Stanley Cup Finals.