There’s something utterly strange, if not incredibly ironic, about a man who’s 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds being in the background of anything, but that’s exactly where Zdeno Chara finds himself this season; in the shadow of Boston Bruins rookie sensation Charlie McAvoy. To see the mob of reporters for a Montreal-Boston matchup surge towards the 20-year-old McAvoy is no surprise. He’s got five goals, 25 points and a plus-18 rating this season, and is making a strong bid for a Calder Trophy nomination. That they aren’t paying much attention to what his 40-year-old partner is doing is somewhat perplexing. “To have Chara out there with me has really meant everything to my success,” said McAvoy a week ago, ahead of the first of three meetings with the Canadiens—the last of which will be played at the Bell Centre Saturday. “He’s made my life so much easier defensively, he’s so responsible. He’s so good at ending plays so I really don’t get into the danger areas very much. He communicates so well on and off the ice and he’s been teaching me life lessons along with hockey lessons. I’m just very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.” It’s been an indelible experience for McAvoy, no doubt. It’s not by fluke that Chara, who turns 41 in March, has put up four goals and nine assists and a plus-24 rating in spite of seeing barely any time on the power play this season and having to play against the opposition’s best players night in, night out. “I just like to stay fit, I like to be out there,” Chara said before the Bruins beat the Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday. It’s a good thing he does, because he’s leading the Bruins in ice time this season, averaging 23:24 per game. They’re hard minutes, due to the aforementioned matchup game he’s involved in, but also because of how many of them he spends leading the NHL’s sixth-ranked penalty kill.
Zdeno Chara having a great season in Charlie McAvoy’s shadow
Sportsnet | Jan 20