BOSTON -- The Bruins' Zdeno Chara finished the 2012-2013 lockout-shortened season ranked fifth in the league in shots for defensemen. At the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, he continued that onslaught and recorded 42 shots in the first 12 games of the postseason.
However, in the last seven games, beginning with the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chara has only eight shots on net, which makes one wonder whether the captain is dealing with some sort of ailment. Chara is still averaging 25 minutes of ice time per game, though.
So, why has his shot totals declined?
“It’s just making smart decisions,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Chicago is a team that does a great job fronting. We used to talk about New York, but Chicago does a great job, too. They’re in shooting lanes. Maybe when he gets the puck, they’re in the shooting lanes. He’ll make a smarter decision with the puck than to get it blocked. I don’t see an issue there.
“At the end of the day, scoring chances are there. It’s tight on both sides. But I think last game we had close to, by our count, 20 scoring chances. So they’re there. I’m not going to put too much emphasis that his shot total is down.”
Chara’s defensive partner Dennis Seidenberg explains his side of it, saying Chicago is a fast team and the Blackhawks come at you pretty hard and close the gap when you have the puck on the blue line.
“It’s not always easy to find lanes, and once you shoot they like to take off on you and go the other way,” Seidenberg said. “We have to think defense first in the playoffs. There are games when there’s more opportunities to shoot, and some games you just can’t find the lanes, so you’ve got to be smart about it.”
Chara and Seidenberg are considered the top shutdown defensive pair in the league, and their prowess has been on display in the playoffs.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Seidenberg said. “We’ve been doing it now for a while and we seem to thrive in those situations. We enjoy it and we like to battle hard. It’s fun.”