Julien wants to see more consistent play from team captain and reigning Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, WEEI.com reports.
“[Chara] has been good, but can be better. He knows that,” Julien told WEEI.com on Friday. “He’s been good, and there are some games where we’ve seen him be dominant like in the past. But we haven’t seen him be dominant night in, night out, like he has been. He’s frustrated a little bit too. I think his whole game has been, at times, up and down a little bit.
"Let’s put it this way: He’s never been terrible but there are some nights when he’s just been OK."
Despite having the world's hardest shot, the 19-goal scorer from last season remains without a goal through 11 games this campaign. Although Chara does have six assists — tying him for the most in the locker room with fellow defender Derek Morris — Chara is expected to contribute a little more in the offensive zone.
Earlier this week, NESN's rink-side reporter Naoko Funayama noted that Chara and the entire defensive unit were staying late at practice to work on slap shots from the point. Such extra work isn't a new part of Chara's commitment as the team leader lifts weights after nearly every skate.
"You saw him working on his shots, and he’d like to get his shots through a little better," Julien added. "But the thing that we like about players is when we see them trying to do something about it. That’s what he’s been doing. He’s been working on his shot and trying to find those seams. Eventually, it’ll come, but he’s in that stage where he wants to be better – and he can better."
The coach isn't coming down hard on the 12-year veteran. He's simply looking for Chara to be consistent and play the way he has since becoming a Bruin in 2006.
Chara has set the bar high for himself throughout his successful career, and teammates, coaches and opponents expect nothing less than an absolute war every time he steps on the ice. Julien has seen that spark from his captain but feels there needs to be that constant effort every day of the season, much like a year ago when Chara led the Bruins to the Eastern Conference's best record.
"When you talk about Z and having success, we’d like to see him where he was last year when he was a stellar defenseman and stingy — a defenseman that every team hated to play against," the skipper said. "This is a game of momentum. Sometimes, things fall right into place, and sometimes, it takes some time. Our whole team is working through that and trying to find that momentum, and I think he’s in that equation as well.”
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