The man widely known as the most dominant defensive defenseman in the NHL might not have put up the gaudy offensive numbers in the regular season that capture the attention of Norris Trophy voters. However, entering the Eastern Conference Final, which begins Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), he's putting up the type of postseason points that might be able to power the Boston Bruins to another Stanley Cup championship. Through two rounds of the 2013 playoffs, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has 11 points (two goals), second to Kris Letang of the Penguins (16 points) among NHL defensemen. Chara's postseason explosion comes after a regular season that saw him struggle to accumulate points, like most of his teammates. The Bruins' offense fell to 13th in the League with an average of 2.65 goals per game, and Chara had 19 points in 48 games. That was an 82-game pace well short of the career-best 52 points he scored in 2011-12. The offensive drop-off didn't slow Chara in the defensive end, where he was plus-14 while playing nearly 25 minutes per game, mostly against the opponents' top lines. When the Norris finalists were announced, he was not among them for the first time since 2010, the year after he won the award. "My priority always is playing well defensively and shutting guys down. If I can help out offensively and contribute, obviously on the power play, it's a big plus," Chara said one day after he practiced in preparation for Boston's series with Pittsburgh. "But like I said, if the whole team is not scoring, it's tough to really produce something as an individual." Even an NHL All-Star defenseman who posted back-to-back plus-33 seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12 can get a little frustrated with a scoring slump. Chara wasn't immune to the pressure to chip in, especially with the Bruins in search of more scoring almost every night. "I'm sure he [gets frustrated]," Chara's perennial defense partner, Dennis Seidenberg, said. "Usually I think when he doesn't score, he likes to take 500 shots to figure something out. But that's what everybody does. When you get annoyed, when the puck doesn't bounce your way, you go on the ice take some more shots, try anything to have the luck go your way. And [Chara's] no different, maybe a little more stubborn than anybody else." Bruins coach Claude Julien knows Chara yearns to help the team in all facets of the game.
Bruins' Chara adding offense to shutdown defense
NHL.com | May 31