Zdeno Chara proves again why he’s captain of the Bruins, and owner of the hardest shot on the team
|04.26.14 at 10:10 pm ET|
Apparently Zdeno Chara believes in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, and an even bigger shot.
In the moments after he helped the Bruins eliminate the Red Wings with 100 MPH power play rocket at the end of the second period, Chara didn’t want to look ahead to Montreal.
Instead, he wanted to focus only on the effort of his teammates and how much he appreciated advancing to the second round in a series win that was much tougher than a 4-1 outcome in favor of the Bruins.
“Well, that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” Chara said. “Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn’t a one-sided series; it was much closer, like I said than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”
The key moment of the game came when Brendan Smith, Reilly’s brother, took a bad cross checking penalty in the final 15 seconds of the second period, creating a 4-on-3 power play chance for the Bruins. The Bruins did what Cup contenders do, they took advantage as Patrice Bergeron won a battle near the far boards and fed Chara, who was all alone in the high slot. With 3.8 seconds left in the period, Chara let fly with a laser.
“Well we had only a few seconds left and [it was] kind of a 50-50 puck down low,” Chara said. “We won the battle for the puck and Bergy just showed how quickly he can see the opening and made a really great pass to me. I mean – I was emotional. It was a big game and a big goal. So, I’m not afraid to show it.”
Chara may have wanted to shout on the ice about his goal and the lead for good in Game 5, but he was far more humble afterward when asked about his powerful blast past the helpless Jonas Gustavsson.
“I don’t know, really, I’m not really looking at it as a slapshot, I’m looking at it as a goal that put us ahead,” Chara said. “It was at the end of the second so it gave us, obviously, a jump. It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day if it was a bomb or kind of bouncing puck that goes in. They all count and that’s what matters.”
More than anything, Chara realizes he is the backbone of the most effective defense left standing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and that will ultimately be where the Bruins’ bread is buttered.
“We were pretty solid, but like I’ve always been saying, there is always room to improve and always room to be better and we’ve got to get better for the next round. I think that we handled a lot of situations really well, but we never gave them games that they really outscored us wildly – we kept them pretty much to one or two goals a game. I think that’s the way you want to play in the playoffs, but we can’t be just looking at the numbers. We’ve got to keep trying to get better and better.”
Just a year ago, and even in 2011 when the Bruins raised the Cup, their power play was a big point of concern. In five games against Detroit, the Bruins scored six times with the man advantage, including two from Chara.
“Well I think that we worked really hard this season to have a better power play and we’ve got to continue to do that,” Chara said. “Like everything else, you can’t be just relying on power plays. I think that the penalty kill is doing a good job for us as well. We’ve got to continue to do our job five-on-five, all the zones; pretty much we can’t just be looking at ‘okay we’re going to wait for a power play to count on,’ even if it’s better, which is nice. We scored some goals this series being on power plays but we can’t be just relying on that.”
As for facing Montreal in the next round, Chara passed on the chance to offer any type of insight for now.
“I’m going to answer it like I did last time, we just finished the first round,” Chara said. “For sure, it’s going to be a tough series; those games are always tough. So, we’ve just got to get ready for that.”