Chara a finalist for Norris Trophy

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on Monday was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded each season to the top blueliner in the NHL. Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators are the other finalists.

Chara, who has been a Norris finalist six times, won the award in 2009, finished second in 2004 and third in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

The 6-foot-9 Bruins captain, who is considered the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL, had 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points in 77 games during the regular season. He posted a plus-25 rating, ranking seventh among NHL defensemen, and averaged 25 minutes on ice per game.

Chara joins teammates Patrice Bergeron (Selke) and Tuukka Rask (Vezina) as nominees for this season’s awards.

Like Bergeron and Rask, Chara is appreciative of the nomination, but he’s focused on a bigger prize -- the Stanley Cup.

“It’s obviously a huge honor,” Chara said. “It’s one of those things you’re very proud of. It’s something you need to have the whole team working toward the same direction and working together. It’s a reflection of the whole season, having a strong and steady season as a team, and that’s why we have a number of guys nominated, but I’m very humbled. It’s a huge honor to be nominated again.”

Chara said he understands he’s not the type of player to produce highlight-reel plays on the offensive side of the puck, and his focus is defense first since he’s normally on the ice against opponents’ top lines.

“I’m not gonna try to run around the ice and chase the points,” he said. “I’m not going to be taking risks playing against top lines. I want to do it the right way. I want to play the game the right way. I always take a lot of pride in my defensive game. I want to always be strong defensively and take care of my zone before I jump up and help the offense. Obviously, you have to be able to do both, but I’m not going to be taking chances just because I want to get more points. I like to work really hard. I enjoy competing against top lines, top players in this league. I want to do it the right way and that’s the way it’s always been for me.”

Of his 44 points this season, 15 came on the power play (10 goals, five assists). Chara was moved from the point to the front of the net on the power play this season. His willingness to stand in front of opposing goaltenders paid dividends for Boston. It was also part of the team’s master plan to minimize the wear and tear on Chara of having to retrieve pucks at the point position while on the man advantage.

“It’s never easy to be standing in front of a net,” Chara said. “It’s a spot that you really have to battle hard for and make sure you’re willing to take some shots and be willing to do whatever needs to be done.”

For weeks, Bruins coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli have campaigned for the team’s captain to win this season’s Norris Trophy.

“This past series [against Detroit] he was terrific,” Chiarelli said. “He still gets up when we play a team with a real star and he really takes that as a challenge. His skating is good, and maybe you don’t see him shoot as much because you’re used to seeing him on the one-timer, but he still blasts it. I think he deserves the nomination. I think he deserves the award.”