BOSTON (CBS) – There’s so much that already fills Zdeno Chara’s resume as one of the greatest leaders in sport.
All through the Bruins building their way from a playoff non-qualifier to a two-time Stanley Cup finalist (and one-time winner), Chara’s proven time and again that although he might not be able to bury the ghost of Ray Bourque, he can still be every bit the driving force of the Bruins with his own approach to the role.
Already in Chara’s Bruins career there’s been a Norris Trophy and a Stanley Cup championship. There was the Max Pacioretty affair, which we know took a toll on him. And yet he was able to recover from that incident not only as a better player, but one with the same amount of aggression and physicality as before.
You can add Chara’s performance in the 2013 “Thanksgiving Day Showdown” (trademark to NBC) to the laundry list of reasons that on a team filled with strong veteran leaders, Chara is the one that gets to wear the ‘C.’
In the Bruins’ 3-2 win, they became the first team in 102 games to beat the Rangers in regulation after New York led through two periods. A solid team effort, however, was overshadowed by a singular performance from a guy who continually proves that at 36 he’s far from over the hill and that there are multiple reasons for the opposition to fear him.
Chara not only recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist, fight), but scored the game-winning goal, hit a post on a chance in tight and was his typically suffocating self in the defensive zone. His assist came on Brad Marchand’s early goal. And his second-period fight riled up the Bruins for their dominant third period, as Chara mauled his less-than-willing combatant Brian Boyle.
And he did it all 1 ½ days after the Bruins laid a turkey egg in Detroit and lost 6-1 in their worst performance of the season.
“Yeah, we all felt really bad about that game,” Chara said of the Red Wings after beating the Rangers, 3-2, at TD Garden. “It was just one of those nights where we just didn’t execute anything and nothing was really happening for us. Detroit played really well and yeah they deserved to win that game, but those kind of games do happen and it’s just the way you have to bounce back and regroup from nights like that. I thought today we did a pretty good job.”
With a bounce-back victory in his pocket, Chara was able to downplay the magnitude of the loss to the Red Wings. But you know he had to be seething between the time his team finally got out of Detroit and the time the Bruins took the ice against the Rangers. If winning is the most important thing, a close second, or maybe even tied, in Chara’s ranking system is a 100-percent effort. He and the Bruins were at less than zero against Detroit.
Chara wouldn’t stand for anything close to the Detroit effort in his team’s next game. He made it nearly impossible for the rest of the Bruins to not follow him with his all-around performance.
“He’s an incredible leader and every day he comes in – he shows the guys the direction that we need to go in,” Marchand said. “He always comes up big at the big times, you saw with that assist on my goal, and again the game-winner and how he sticks up for his teammates. We’re very lucky to have him.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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