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It hasn't been the best of starts for Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.
The poor start is not showing in his point total as Chara has scored two goals and three assists in 15 games.
Chara has the hardest shot in the league and the Bruins expect him to contribute on the offensive end, either by shooting from the point or taking a spot on the power play near the front of the net, where he can use his 6'9", 260-pound frame to screen opposing goalies.
However, the main thing Chara brings to the table is his defensive ability. Chara is supposed to be one of the league's premier shutdown defensemen.
That often manifests itself in a superb plus-minus figure. Chara was plus-33 in the Bruins Stanley Cup championship season of 2010-11, and he repeated that figure in 2011-12.
This season, Chara has a minus-one rating.
This shocking figure may have its roots in last year's Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins held a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks and were in a position to take a commanding 3-1 lead since the fourth game was played in Boston.
However, Chicago's Jonathan Toews decided to try to attack Chara rather than avoid him, and that may have been the key to the Blackhawks stopping the Bruins' momentum and winning the series.
After going plus-one in the first three games of the series, Chara was minus-six in the last three games of the series.
Chara is known for keeping himself in superior condition, so even though he's 36 years old, he should have enough left in the tank to maintain his high performance level.
However, he may have slowed by a half-step and that could be the cause of his poor playoff finish and early-season downturn.