OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 28: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins and Team Chara looks on during the Blackberry NHL Hardest Shot part of the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place on January 28, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
On the weekend of January 21-22, the Bruins played back to back overtime games against two of their chief rivals in the Eastern Conference this season in the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. In those games, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played a combined 64 minutes. We've all heard the legends of Chara's fitness regimen. He's always been counted on to log huge minutes and anchor a Bruins defensive unit that is ordinary without him. But did the pursuit of those two regular season wins come at a greater cost in the long run? Chara hasn't played over 30 minutes in any other game this season. Last year during the regular season, he topped that mark twice and those games were 2 months apart. The first game came before a 4 day layoff, and the second after a 2 day layoff with another night off afterwards. There was a 4 game stretch at the very end of the 09-10 season where Chara logged 30+ minutes 3 times. But none of those games were back to back, that Bruins team was fighting just to make the playoffs, and Chara would get 5 days off before taking the ice for Game 1 of the Buffalo series.
The reason this all seems relevant is that since those back to back games, Chara has been a -9 and beyond the box score has looked sluggish. With their defensive stalwart lagging, the Bruins have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games, and have held their opponents under 3 goals just twice during that span. Just two of those 4 wins have come during regulation play. While one could make the argument that the All Star "Break" fell shortly after those back to back games. Chara played a prominent role in the festivities that weekend, and there's a reason that veteran players will sit the weekend out to rest up for the grind that is the NHL's 2nd half and the playoff battles that follow. It might not be the worst thing in the world for Claude Julien to back off Chara for a week or so, in order have his best skater at his best for the postseason.