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Columnist: Chara could use a break

Mar 4, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT

Zdeno Chara Getty Images

If you’ve been watching the Boston Bruins or the Olympics at all, you’ve probably seen a lot of Zdeno Chara.

This season, the Bruins captain is averaging 25:59 of ice time per game, his highest amount since 2008-09 when he was logging an average of 26:09 per game. In his past two games, back-to-backs no less, he played right at his average minutes for the season.

As Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe says, maybe it’s time to give the big guy a breather.

Chara’s done his job in the three post-break games. Against Washington, Chara helped to prevent Alex Ovechkin from scoring at even strength. One night later, Chara and Dougie Hamilton kept New York’s top line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash from beating Rask.

But Chara’s heavy legs indicate he’s not running on a full tank. Playing 25-plus minutes in back-to-back games uses a lot of gas.

The results are still there, although dropping games to the Sabres and Capitals coming out of the Olympics wasn’t ideal for the Bruins and neither is burning out Chara before the playoffs.

How do you ease Chara’s minutes then? Shinzawa suggests they take a look at landing Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald at the deadline. The problem there is Isles GM Garth Snow is asking for a healthy, and perhaps overpriced, return for the impending unrestricted free agent.

With Dennis Seidenberg done for the season and a host of younger defensemen surrounding Chara, the Bruins are asking a lot of him now. Asking for more in the postseason could be too much.

  1. dropthepuckeh - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Chara looks slow and tired. He had no gas left in OT when Buffalo won last week and Ovechkin still scored two goals in the Bruins loss to the Caps. I hope the Bruins are able to limit his minutes in the the stretch before the playoffs or the Bruins won’t go far. Tough year to be looking to add a d-man.

    • stepanup - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      I agree with Chara looking his age when D’Agostini won that game for the Sabres in OT, but I have trouble blaming Z for Ovechkin scoring two scorchers on the power play…

      Even though the Bruins have arguably the most well rounded four offensive lines, they’ll need to add a D to make a serious run against a top team from the West. I don’t see a team in the East they can’t handle, including the Penguins because we’ve seen enough of that matchup to know who it favors.

      • dropthepuckeh - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        I don’t blame Chara for Oveckin scoring twice but the article says he held him scoreless even-strength. Not exactly impressive if they allow him to score on the PP twice but not really important.

        I’d like to see Stuart come back to Boston, tough defense minded defenseman who will fit right back in. Admittedly he is not an elite defenseman but I am not sure there is one available.

  2. newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I really think Boston will pay the price to attain a defenseman to cover the loss for Seidenberg.

    Unfortunately they will lose a few good pieces (prospects and/or drafts) to get anyone in return. If they don’t do this they will burn out the defense they currently have (as this article states)

    I see a first/second and someone like Spooner to get a rental like MacDonald for a playoff run. Big loss in my opinion for the Bruins in the end where they may lose MacDonald in free agency as well.

  3. nunan - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Spooner is NOT being traded for a rental. He’s probably not being traded at all. He’s their top prospect. People keep throwing his name out there but he’s not going anywhere.

  4. jpelle82 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    i dont think macdonald helps them other than putting a warm body out there to relieve guys of minutes. he’s not the stay at home defensive defenseman the bruins should be looking at, they have enough puck movers in my opinion. they really just need a good 2nd pair guy who can eat up some minutes and not make mistakes. is mcquaid’s injury that bad – anyone know his timetable? great picture by the way…

  5. pats2001 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    they better figure out a way to get him some rest…and soon. we saw chicago expose his fatigue in games 4, 5 and 6 in the cup final last june

    • pastabelly - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      The same thing is happening now and Matt Bartkowski is not a top 4 defenseman either. If Peter C sits by and gets a 5th of 6th defenseman, they won’t even get out of the Atlantic to face Pittsburgh. Montreal, with their team speed, will put the Bruins away (like they seem to do in every regular season game the past couple of years, it’s not random either).

  6. packerswin96 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I thought he got a break at the Olympics!

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