Zdeno Chara remains a freak of nature, and we mean that in the best possible way.
It’s hard to believe the Boston Bruins captain turns 41 in a couple of weeks. He might not be the Norris Trophy contender he was earlier in his career, but the Bruins defenseman again proved his worth in a Thursday night statement win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.
Chara fought Pens defenseman Jamie Oleksiak midway through the second period, trading heavy punches with the 6-foot-7 blueliner. At the risk of sounding biased, Chara seemed to get the better of Oleksiak, who is 16 years his junior.
But what made Chara’s bout even more impressive was when it happened. He dropped the gloves at a shift that lasted 3 minutes and 3 seconds, and that included killing off an entire two-minute penalty.
“It was tiring, but I thought it was that time of the game that it was obviously important for us not to back down or show weakness,” Chara said after the game. “I thought it was the right timing for us to play that way. These things happen.”
Chara’s fight also came at a time when the game itself was starting to make the jump from chippy to nasty. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out after the game that Chara may have sought revenge on Patric Hornqvist for his hit on Charlie McAvoy. With the game more or less in hand, Chara sent the message by dropping his gloves, and that pretty much put an end to the shady stuff.
“(Pittsburgh’s play) was not dirty; it was just a physical game,” Chara said. “Both teams are battling and there was a lot of checks and battles. Neither team wanted to back down. It was just one of those games, that it was just a matter of time.”