Julien endorses Chara for Norris Trophy

BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara had some ups and downs in January and February, mirroring the Bruins’ inconsistency.

But the Bruins captain turned his game up a notch down the stretch, helping his team get back on track and helping himself get back into Norris Trophy contention.

Chara finished the season with a career-best 52 points and plus-33. Following the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo in the regular-season finale, Chara wasn’t campaigning to win his second Norris Trophy, but he was happy with his season overall.

“I just try to play hard every game and to do my best,” Chara said. “For the whole season I think I did a pretty good job. I just try to do my best and shut down people and play strong defensively but this season I was able to help the offense and did my thing.”

But while Chara may have been humble, head coach Claude Julien had no problem putting in his vote for his captain. Julien made some valid points on why Chara should get the nod for the Norris.

“Oh, absolutely,” Julien said without hesitation. “There’s so much -- and I know coaches preach for their players -- but, to me, a Norris Trophy defenseman has to be a good all-around defenseman, and Zdeno’s plus/minus speaks for itself. He plays the top players on every team every night, and look how well he’s doing in the plus/minus.

“Offensively, he’s got the best stats he’s ever had, and defensively, obviously, he’s done a great job at shutting down other players. I think that especially in the last month, he’s been playing some of his best hockey I’ve ever seen. So, to me, he’s deserving because he’s a complete defenseman, and that’s what it should be.

“I mean, to each his own. We’ve seen people preach for guys that have high stats, mixed stats, and I guess, D’s that really love to go on the offense, so if we’re looking for an offensive defenseman award, let’s make it that, but if it’s the Norris, it’s for a good all-around defenseman, and in my mind, it’s Zdeno Chara.”