I’ll readily admit that I assumed this season could be Zdeno Chara’s swan tune. Yes, he’s a health freak with one of the crucial distinctive frames in NHL historical past, however he’s 41 years previous with greater than 1,400 arduous video games below his belt already. I assumed that the younger and spritely Charlie McAvoy would do all of the skating on Boston’s new No. 1 tandem, permitting Chara to make use of his attain and physicality to masks his personal lack of velocity.
But guess what? Chara seems wonderful. More than wonderful, actually. If his little rush and snipe on Toronto’s Frederik Andersen in Game three of the Bruins-Leafs sequence is any indication, Chara isn’t settling for a rocking chair. And the actual fact he’s still taking part in at a excessive stage is a testomony to the work he places in.
“He’s one of the best defensemen to ever play,” mentioned left winger Brad Marchand. “To this day he continually wants to improve his play. He steps up at the right time. He’s a big part of our team on and off the ice and he’s our captain. He leads by example.”
Once once more, Chara led the Bruins in time on ice this season with an common workload of 22:54 per outing. Sure, it’s not the 25 minutes he logged throughout his peak (proper across the time Boston gained the Stanley Cup, not coincidentally), however it’s still fairly good. It additionally speaks to the depth that coach Bruce Cassidy can draw from on the again finish.
There are quite a few the reason why Chara is still so efficient at an age when most hockey gamers are retired from the professional sport and his pure presents are only one. He has additionally made an enormous dietary change lately, as soon as once more chatting with the dedication the Slovakian legend has for his craft. And make no mistake: McAvoy has been the right foil for the veteran.
“He’s playing well, he’s obviously a very talented player,” Chara mentioned. “He has made big strides since he came into the league and you can see the improvements he is making. He’s already a great player, but he’ll be even better.”
Chara lately signed a one-year extension with the Bruins price $5 million and that ought to give the workforce sufficient runway for McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk to actually clutch the protection corps as Boston’s subsequent era (Torey Krug, amongst others, will proceed to offer the skilled sinew that connects all of it collectively). That is, in fact, except Chara re-signs once more after that.
What the veteran has confirmed is simply how ageless he actually is. Think about it this fashion: Chara’s first playoff matchup towards the Toronto Maple Leafs was method again in 2002, when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators. He was good then and he’s still good now.
“He’s an asset in any series,” Cassidy mentioned. “Former Norris Trophy winner, captain of our hockey club, defends well, kills penalties. I’m stating the obvious, but he’s an asset back there.”
Chara is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer and with one Cup ring already, he has been to the highest of the mountain (he has additionally actually been to the highest of a mountain, however that’s one other story altogether). But he’s clearly still engaged within the sport and I’m positive he’d like to deliver the title again to Boston no less than another time. Toronto simply occurs to be the primary workforce in his method proper now.
“It’s like any other series; it’s a battle,” he mentioned. “At this time of the year you’re going to see pushback.”
And who higher to thwart that pushback than one of many greatest and strongest gamers in NHL historical past?