Player of the Week: December 15th-22nd
He does just about everything for his team. He is the leader. He is the enforcer. And he matches up with NHL’s top defenders every single night. Now, he is scoring in bunches when his team needs it the most.
Zdeno Chara potted two power play goals versus the Calgary Flames last Tuesday to give the Boston Bruins a bounce back win after their debacle in Vancouver. He also added an assist in the B’s win over Buffalo Saturday night.
The big difference this year is that Chara is playing down low on the power play parking his large frame in front of opposing goalies making it almost impossible to see. His presence there as well as his grittiness has him with nine goals on the year, which is good for a three-way tie for first in the league among defensemen.
Head coach Claude Julien knows having Chara down low is a huge advantage.
“Well, I think you saw tonight (vs. Calgary) – you said he was a huge man – but he’s also got a huge reach,” Julien said. “He finds those pucks, but he’s also been pretty good at reading off the guys who have the puck and sometimes it’s not about being a screen, sometimes it’s about being an outlet. So, he’s reading off guys pretty well. It’s been an adjustment for him going from the back end to the front end, but he seems to be getting more and more comfortable.”
Chara isn’t taking a lot of credit for his role on the power-play just attributes his success to his work ethic.
“I’m just trying to work hard and be there for loose pucks and create traffic and find some openings,” said the 6-foot-9 defenseman. “The main thing is to just work extremely hard.”
Chara has adjusted well to his new role on the power play as he is getting great results by working his craft at practice. His six power-play goals are good for seventh in the league.
“We’re just trying to work on it in practice, to read off each other,” Chara said about the man advantage. “Wherever the puck is, you just need to fill the spots and positions and that doesn’t always necessarily mean that I have to be in front.”
Chara has needed to adjust to his role this season on the power-play, but with his presence and reach, he has the B’s away from the bottom of the barrel of power-play success rate.
Chara has been the rock for the defense as almost every other defenseman has gone out with injuries. He has been logging some serious minutes. Sometimes close to 30 minutes a night.
After the loss in Vancouver, Chara addressed the team to try and lead his team back and stay focused for the rest of the year.
“I did, but it’s just one of those things that at the same time you don’t want to be putting too much pressure on the team when there is already enough with whatever we are facing,” Chara said. “But at times, yes. It’s my job to go by what I feel is right and I have to obviously take that charge.”