While beating the Bruins handily in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Lightning accomplished a rare feat. They chopped Zdeno Chara down to size. The tallest player in NHL history suffered through a forgettable evening Saturday as the 6-foot-9 defenseman was saddled with a minus-2 rating in Tampa Bay's 5-2 triumph. Chara topped the league with a plus-33 mark during the regular season and led all playoff skaters with a plus-11 rating before the Game 1 setback. "I thought we had a good start and created some pressure on them,'' said Chara, who led all players with 28:23 of ice time Saturday. "Then we made some mistakes and didn't do the job we can do and they got those goals.'' Chara, who broke his own NHL record with a 105.9 mph slap shot during the 2011 All-Star Game, fired a game-high seven shots at Dwayne Roloson, but the Lightning also blocked two of Chara's blasts. "You obviously are a little more aware that it's going to come a little harder with 'Big Z' shooting it,'' said Lightning forward Nate Thompson. "But you have to be willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to get in front of that shot. If you're thinking about it too much, you probably won't block it.'' The 2009 Norris Trophy winner as the league's best defenseman, Chara is a game-changer for the Bruins. After missing Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Flyers because of dehydration, Boston's 34-year-old captain scored twice and was plus-4 in a 5-1 victory that essentially clinched the series. Chara set the tone with a left-handed slapshot only 30 seconds into the lopsided win that put Boston up 3-0 in a series the Bruins swept.
Bruins giant Chara a non-factor in series opener
Tampa Tribune | May 17