Last season, the Boston Bruins almost won the Stanley Cup. We almost broke our captain in the process. Zden0 Chara was out there in the playoffs putting in thirty minutes a game (and sometimes more), and even in his amazing physical condition, it wore him down. In the end, ‘Big Z’ got worn down. His -6 +/- in the losses to Chicago just showed how much we relied on the biggest man in hockey.
Thankfully, we won’t (*stick tap on wood*) have that problem again. The rookie defensemen have proven themselves. The Bruins are at that point where they can actually begin rotating their defensemen as healthy scratches. Dougie Hamilton came off a two game scratch run to come in and score a rare power play goal for Boston in their 3-2 win over the Panthers. (Adam McQuaid is currently in the rotor for the healthy scratch.) With so many defensemen proving their worth to the organization, they can finally cut back on the 36 yr old’s ice time.
The Bruins captain is completely ok with the current rotation. “I’m not really a guy that’s going to be looking at exactly how many minutes I’m playing in a game.” said Chara after the Panthers game. “I’m just trying to play the best I can when I’m out there. Some nights it will be more, and some nights it will be less…it could depend on special teams and matchups.”
“It is one of those things that I have to be smart about. It’s not right to say that you’re looking too, too far ahead. But you don’t want to be extending shifts or chasing some kind of number as far as ice time goes. You play as you are, and you include everybody. You can’t rely on four guys for eighty two games, and then get to the playoffs and you’re being overloaded with overtimes and everything else. We have a really good group of D-men, and everybody has to be included in sharing the load of minutes.”
“I’m totally comfortable with whatever the coaches decide to do with my minutes. I’ll just play the best I can when I’m out there.”
Currently, Chara has averaged 23:56 of ice time in six games. # 33 has earned three points (one goal), and has a +/- of -2. I can’t see Chara being one of the players in the scratch rotation, but with the workload being shared more evenly, we can expect the veteran defenseman to help preserve the second lowest goals against average in the National Hockey League (1.67). He’ll lead the team again tonight in what should be a tough Atlantic Division fight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The puck drop is expected to be at 7:05 pm.