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BOSTON (CBS) — After beating the New York Rangers, 3-2, in overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday, the Bruins have two days off before Game 2 on Sunday.
The team isn’t scheduled to practice Friday. The Bruins should consider giving defenseman Zdeno Chara both days to recuperate after his Game 1 performance.
Chara logged 38:02 of ice time, mostly against Rangers hulky star forward Rick Nash, and was credited with nine shots on goal and six hits. His goal started the evening’s scoring and he assisted on Brad Marchand’s game-winning goal with a poke check of a Derick Brassard pass during a New York odd-man rush.
This after he logged 35:46 of ice time in the Game 7 win against Toronto on Monday, his second game of more than 30 minutes in that series. In his early days with the Bruins, Chara would average close to 30 minutes a night. This season, he didn’t pass the 30-minute mark at all until the playoffs.
Of course, Chara was able to make the most of his minutes. The only point Nash recorded was an assist when Chara wasn’t on the ice. And in addition to his goal, he helped orchestrate a couple of momentum-building power plays late in regulation and in overtime.
Chara wasn’t among the three finalists for this seasons’ Norris Trophy, but he continues to get all the votes in the Bruins’ dressing room.
“We seem to talk about this guy almost every time because of what he is,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Tonight was one of those things where the little details make a big difference in the game. That poke check that he made at the right time, and then giving us a chance to come back and score was huge. Zdeno does those things over and over, and that’s why I said to people that even though he hasn’t been nominated for a Norris, he’s been our Norris Trophy winner every year by the way he’s played, and the amount of time he’s played, and the players he’s played against. He continues to do that, and we appreciate that kind of play from him a lot. This is the kind of thing that you get from Zdeno, and tonight wasn’t any different.”
Friday and Saturday won’t be any different either. If Chara doesn’t work out at least a little bit on the day after a game, it’ll be a major shock. And there’s no way they’ll be able to keep him off the ice Saturday when the team returns to practicing.
Chara is an uncontrollable workout beast. That’s paid off in his remarkable career, which still has plenty of years left. And when it’s over, that’s when he’ll finally rest.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.