What is there to say about Zdeno Chara at this point.
He’s 40 years old, will be bordering 41 by the time his contract is up, which has now gone down to about 4 million against the cap. He has been the captain for a solid decade. His pro hockey career is a year younger than the nation he represents (or...well..used to represent) at the Olympics.
And like clockwork, he’s taking almost all the icetime the Bruins could provide for him. Again.
Zdeno Chara had over 1750 minutes of time on ice across all situations, only challenged slightly by Krug and his rookie defense partner who appeared to bring a spring to the big man as he ended up being the highest goal scorer on defense this year, though in terms of total points he was smoked by Torey Krug.
And really, with a shot like Chara’s, it’s hard not to occasionally marvel at how much of a gift he has athletically and how he’s been able to keep it going for so long:
But of course, we have to talk about the bad stuff too, and most of this should be obvious at this point:
Zdeno Chara is 40 years old. He’s had multiple injuries in his lower body. He’s a defensive defenseman whose principle strengths are swooping in at stride and getting pucks from the corners and passing it to a forward. He’s slow. He’s defensively minded, and he’ll get lapped by players much faster than him. This is known, and to be honest? Expected.
He’s on the back 9 of his career, regressing in nearly every category, and he’s still having to carry a team through some of the most punishing NHL minutes one can put on a human body. His point totals are at their lowest they’ve been since 2002, his CF% has begun to drop, and it showed in the eye test: there were points where he just looked exhausted in some games.
Granted, he was still Zdeno Chara so if properly roused he could do that thing where he’s Zdeno Chara and defend not only his goaltender but also his teammates by either slugging opponents or even worse, falling on top of them:
Don’t fight Boston’s defense.
But it’s still a reality of having him around. His mistakes are more prominent, and his slow skating is becoming more of a problem than it used to be. Time plays no favorites and Zdeno Chara is still human. Even when playing with someone like Charlie McAvoy and soldiering through the bulk of the playoff minutes, He still needed help, and he definitely didn’t get it in the postseason.
And of course, there’s still a pair of realities that need to be faced, that we’re seeing this guy at the end of an absolutely fantastic career still doing the things he did when he came to Boston in 2006 (more or less), and that Boston still needs a player averaging almost 25 minutes a night, and only two other players on the team was even close right now. And one's his d-partner.
If it won’t be Krug or Carlo in 2017, it’ll have to be Chara one last time.
Chara’s final year in Boston is upcoming. So if you like or liked his play, you still have one more year of the big guy and his comically powerful frame keeping Rask protected and being the quietly intense leader of men he’s always been.
And if you don’t like him, just be glad his cap hit got reduced by 2 million dollars, and that much better players are on the way, sheparded by a player who will happily ease them into the game proper.
Games Played: 75
Final Aggregate CF%: 52.47%
What do you think of Chara’s Grade?
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