Zdeno Chara: Captain's Forgettable First Period Sets Bruins On Losing Track

Al DanielCorrespondent IIFebruary 14, 2012

BOSTON - JANUARY 09:   Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers tries to get the puck from Zdeno Chara #33 of  the Boston Bruins on January 9, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rangers defeated the Bruins 3-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

During the opening stanza of Tuesday night’s titanic tangle with the New York Rangers, a mysterious outside force knocked Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara back into the 2006-07 season.

Ordinarily the team’s Tower of Power that he was expected to be since Claude Julien assumed the position of head coach, Chara was a throwback to the Fawlty Tower that he was under the misguidance of Dave Lewis.

Not so coincidentally, the Bruins found themselves in a 2-0 pothole at intermission and effectively allowed Henrik Lundqvist and his praetorian guards to pace themselves to a 3-0 victory at TD Garden.

Rarely in recent memory has the adage “brief, but fatal” been more applicable than in this situation. Boston’s captain played as a big a role in his team’s efforts to recompense the unfavorable start, but such an endeavor against the likes of the Rangers has a nasty habit of futility.

The Bruins were relatively even with the Rangers in most superficial categories to start Tuesday’s tilt. New York sculpted itself a 12-10 edge in the shooting gallery over the first 20 minutes, and Boston induced its visitors to three unanswered icing infractions.

But one of the Bruins’ greatest sore spots in the tone-setting phases of the game was a set of six giveaways. Chara was responsible for three of those early turnovers and, by night’s end, was liable for four out of nine Boston giveaways.

Chara was in the plus/minus red when Ryan McDonagh tuned the mesh in the last minute before intermission, his shot going in off the blueliner’s lower body.

The only reason Chara was not on the ice for Ranger captain Ryan Callahan’s icebreaker at the 10:09 mark―or to help in the effort to prevent it―was because he was serving the game’s first penalty. And he was doing time for a fairly soft infraction at that, namely, closing his hand on the puck.

As it happened, Chara’s penalty brought on the evening’s only power play for either club until a negligible 110 seconds remained in the third period with a 3-0 deficit glowering down on the Bruins.

In addition, Chara landed none of Boston’s 11 hits in the opening frame or any of the 21 Bruin-on-Blueshirt body-checks that followed in the latter 40 minutes.

Chara did ultimately jut out for the better in at least one area, accumulating six shots on net out of 10 total attempts. Only top gun Tyler Seguin tested Lundqvist more, with seven bids on the night, and no Boston skater matched Chara’s total attempts.

After landing 10 of 16 attempted stabs on Lundqvist in the opening frame, the Bruins pelted their New York nemesis with 14 out of 29 total tries within the second period.

Chara, who had two shots on goal in the first, discharged four of those 29 attempts and put another pair on net. His third and fourth registered stabs at Lundqvist came in the 13th minute, one of which banked off the celestial stopper’s head before he recovered to keep it out of the cage.

In the third period, during which the captain consumed eight minutes and 33 seconds of ice time, the Bruins outshot the Rangers, 18-3, on a tireless total of 34 attempts. But Lundqvist answered all 18 of his challenges while his skating mates characteristically stood in the way of 10, helping the Swedish stopper salvage his sixth career shutout against Boston.

It can all be traced back to the matchup’s younger stages, when Chara was anything but his characteristic self. The resultant 2-0 deficit was nothing short of a misdirected Valentine’s Day gift to the top-dog Blueshirts, who sealed their win with Artem Anisimov’s dagger with 14:37 to spare.