Zdeno Chara is known league wide as one of the National Hockey League’s premier defensemen, and will be out there pretty much at all times against the other team’s top line.
Chara and the Bruins had a tall task this afternoon when Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and company came into town for a Saturday afternoon matinee with the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Heading into today’s tilt with the Bruins, Malkin and Neal were tied with Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks for second in league in goals with 27 each, six behind league leader Steven Stamkos.
As is the case more times than not, Chara did a great job shutting down the lethal attack of the Penguins dynamic duo in today’s 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin did manage to score the game’s first goal with just eight seconds left in the opening frame, but that goal came with Chara on the bench.
James Neal wasn’t shy to admit that it’s a challenge heading out every shift and going up against the league’s tallest player.
“Yeah it’s a challenge. He’s a good d-man, I mean he’s big he’s physical, great stick on him” said Neal who assisted on Malkin’s first period goal. “You know just when you think you’re around him that stick comes by and gets a piece of you, so yeah it’s defiantly a tough game when you have to play against that guy every shift.”
The Penguins have been without their top star Sidney Crosby for the majorty of the season as he still sits out with a concussion and neck injury, but the play of Malkin and Neal have been more than enough to carry the team, something that Neal says has been fun doing.
“It’s a lot of fun, he’s a highly skilled guy, and he can do anything with the puck. So for me I just try and get into the open area, give him the puck as much as possible and kind of try to find those soft spots because he is going to find them” said Neal of Malkin. “I mean we kind of clicked from camp and the chemistry has been good.”
Chara will be right back it tomorrow afternoon as he will have the difficult task of trying to shut down another one of the league’s best in Alex Ovechkin when his Bruins travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Capitals.