Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports
Bruins captain and No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara finally showed signs of fatigue and weakness in Game 4 after logging almost 30 minutes of ice time consistently through three-plus playoff rounds.
The Blackhawks made a strong effort to hit Chara and be physical with him early and often in Game 4, and the results were quite impressive. The veteran defenseman was on the ice for five Chicago goals and wasn't fully engaged in the contest, which rarely happens. His minus-three rating was his worst of the postseason so far.
"There's certain ways you can expose [Chara]," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews after Game 4. "I think the dump-ins that we made tonight were going to his side. We made sure we were outnumbering him everywhere we went, taking away his stick-first thing."
"We just try not to be intimidated by his size. You have to get to the net, find a way inside, not be, like I said, intimidated by that. We can outwork him, and we did that tonight, and we want to continue that."
As the best shut-down defenseman in the NHL, Chara's role of preventing the opposing team's most highly skilled forwards from excelling offensively is the most important part of Boston's defensive success.
He did a tremendous job shutting down Chicago's top line of Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell in the first three games of the series with physical play, good stick work and responsible positioning. The Bruins will need a similar performance from their captain in Game 5 to stop the Blackhawks offense from breaking the game open and forcing Boston to win a high-scoring contest.