Zdeno Chara

Chara puts up vintage performance in Bruins' Game 4 win over Maple Leafs

Chara puts up vintage performance in Bruins' Game 4 win over Maple Leafs

TORONTO – There are going to be times in these playoffs when 42-year-old Zdeno Chara is going to look every bit of his age out on the ice.

Game 1 might have been one of those times as Chara appeared to be having some real difficulty keeping up with the fast, skilled Maple Leafs as they poured on their attack. Still, it was a different story in Game 4 Wednesday night with the B’s claiming a 6-4 victory to even the series at 2, and with Chara enjoying a vintage performance at both ends of the ice.

Chara ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period on a long point shot that whistled past Freddie Andersen. That proved to be the difference after Toronto staged a near comeback during a furious third-period rally.

“We had the lead and we played well, but obviously they played more aggressively and started fore-checking harder and more aggressively,” said Chara. “We’ll go back and look at some things and see what we could have done better.”

With our without the third-period rally, it was all part of a tremendous performance for Chara, who put up the goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time, threw five hits and blocked four shots in a game where his true defensive warrior tendencies came through.

“He’s a true professional and a great leader, and at this stage of his career just a really, really solid hockey player,” said B's coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’re trying to find ways to expose him and he’s trying to find ways to adapt to the new NHL, and he has. There’s a reason why he’s still playing and effective. Not only is he hard [on opponents], but he’s smart. He’s very intelligent and he’s been able to figure out ways to be effective.”

It was the best performance and most ice time that Chara has had in any of the four playoff games this spring, and he was joined by defensive partner Charlie McAvoy enjoying his best game of the series, too. Now comes the tough part in maintaining that performance through the rest of the series where the B’s will clearly need Chara at his best as they look to slow down the Leafs any way that they can.  

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

GOLD STAR: It took Bruce Cassidy shaking things up a little bit while dropping David Pastrnak down with David Krejci, but it got Pastrnak back playing his game and he scored his first two goals of the postseason. Pastrnak finished with the two second-period goals that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t give up. He also led the B’s with six shots on net in his 16:33 of ice time. 

Pastrnak finished with eight shot attempts, three hits and played a little faster and stronger on the puck while finishing off the chances he got in the middle of the game. The backhanded saucer pass from Brad Marchand to Pastrnak for a power-play one-timer was exactly the kind of slick, productive playmaking the two are capable of at any moment.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins finally stung the defensive stoppers that had been so good in this series for the Maple Leafs. John Tavares and Jake Muzzin each finished minus-3 and weren’t able to hold back Patrice Bergeron and Marchand as effectively when they were paired with Danton Heinen instead of Pastrnak. 

It extended to the face-off circle as well as Tavares was just 6-for-18 on the draw and didn’t seem to get the drop on Bergeron as he has in certain moments earlier in this series. Some of it might have been about the line shakeup that Cassidy introduced at the start of the game and some of it was about Boston’s best players finally outplaying the guys trying to stop them.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins twice had moments when they could have buckled if the Leafs could have taken advantage of them, but the B’s held strong in those moments and controlled play. In the second period, Tuukka Rask allowed a soft goal to Auston Matthews that clanged in off his glove hand and tied it at 2, but right at that moment, the Bruins surged forward and got a pair of goals from Pastrnak. Then in the third period, Toronto had them on the ropes again after scoring a couple of goals and closing to within one score, but the B’s defense and Rask hunkered down and didn’t allow another goal despite being outshot 16-9 in the final period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara was strong, solid and even got rewarded for his efforts with a goal in the third period that ended up being the game-winner. Chara finished with a goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time while putting yeoman’s work in the defensive zone with five hits and four blocked shots for a B’s group that blocked a whopping 25 shots. Chara isn’t always going to play these kinds of big-minute performances in the playoffs anymore at 42 years old, but he found a way to be very close to his best when the B’s needed him to be a stalwart shutdown guy. The goal in the third period that whistled past Freddie Andersen was just icing on the cake.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – The number of blocked shots for the Bruins, who doubled Toronto 25-12 in this category while really paying the physical price for the gritty, high-scoring victory.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was putting pressure on myself to help the team this way, so it was big for me. I feel relieved...and awake.” – David Pastrnak, on scoring his first two goals of this postseason. 


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Zdeno Chara posts Bruins hype video ahead of Game 1 vs. Maple Leafs

Zdeno Chara posts Bruins hype video ahead of Game 1 vs. Maple Leafs

Nobody is more ready for playoff hockey than Zdeno Chara.

The 21-year veteran and the rest of the Boston Bruins will begin their first-round series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Not to be outdone by the epic hype video posted by the B's earlier in the day, Chara narrated and shared one of his own on Instagram.

Watch below:

View this post on Instagram

#MadeForThis#StanleyCup

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

Goosebumps.

Chara and the Bruins' quest for the Cup begins at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

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