These days, it seems like Zdeno Chara is getting just as much attention for his social media exploits as he receives for what he does on the ice. And while the Boston Bruins captain might not be the dominant player he once was, he’s more than capable of reminding everyone just how valuable he is to the club’s success.
Chara turned in a vintage performance in the waning moments of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, as he and the Bruins held on for a 2-1 win to take a 3-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes. It might not always look smooth, and it might not happen with the same frequency it once did, but when Boston needs big minutes from the big man, he’s ready to contribute.
That certainly was the case Tuesday night when Chara was called on to log 8 minutes and 32 seconds of ice time in the third period as the B’s worked to nurse their one-goal lead. In fact, a good chunk of that came late in the period, with Chara on the ice for 4 minutes and 12 seconds of the final 6:03. That included the final 108 seconds of the game during which Chara blocked a pair of shots, one of which led to a Carolina high stick and another he ended up clearing himself.
And if that wasn’t enough, the 42-year-old recorded 5:26 of shorthanded ice time, helping the B’s kill off all five Carolina power plays.
“First of all, he relishes those situations,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game. “He’s going to give it his all, and he’s terrific as a shot suppresser with his long stick. On the PK, it makes a lot of sense, (and) end of the game, that’s his bread and butter. So he had to play a few more minutes tonight, tough minutes, really tough minutes for him tonight. When you’re that much on the PK, you really don’t have a lot of time to catch your breath. Tough matchups all night, and he was a rock for us. That’s Z. You’ve watched him for a lot of years, and he rises up in these situations.”
Chara and the Bruins will get their chance to clinch a third Stanley Cup Final berth in eight years starting with Game 4 on Thursday night in Carolina.