Blackhawks challenging Bruins' Chara
June, 21, 2013
By Scott Powers | ESPNBoston.com
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews said the Hawks need to use their speed to deal with Zdeno Chara.CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks haven't lost their respect for Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, but they have ceased to fear him.
The Blackhawks stopped trying to avoid the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Chara in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday and discovered they could have success against him as they scored five of their six goals with Chara on the ice. Chara finished Game 4 with a minus-3 rating, which was his worst rating of the playoffs.
"I think I said [after Game 4] that he does a lot of good things, and he uses his size and his reach to his advantage, and I think maybe at times in the first couple games we were giving him a little bit too much respect by trying to keep the puck away from him," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "He's not a guy that we should be afraid of. We should go at him, protect the puck from him, make plays around him and through him. We use our speed."
Blackhawks forwards Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger challenged Chara on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period on Wednesday. With Kruger on the left and Frolik with the puck on the right, Chara tried to break up the play by sliding at Frolik. Frolik skated past Chara's legs and passed the puck to Kruger for a goal.
"You saw the goal that Marcus Kruger scored, [Frolik] never stopped moving his feet and got around him," Toews said. "Great play by those two guys to finish off that play. It's a small example of the way we can expose him. They've got a handful of solid players that we want to key on every single night, and he's one of those guys, so we'll try and keep that going."
The Blackhawks also attempted to get more physical with Chara and wear him down in Game 4. Bryan Bickell thought it was only natural to be intimidated by a player of Chara's size.
"He's a big guy," said Bickell, who knocked Chara down with a hit in Game 4. "Not a lot of guys challenge him to hit him, so they kind of fade off or just start backchecking. You just hit him and it I don't think anybody likes to get hit. We just need to finish our checks against him."
Bruins forward Brad Marchand wasn't too worried that the Blackhawks had somehow figured out a way to negate Chara's ability.
"I mean [Chara's] one of the best defenseman in the league, and a guy that big and that strong you don't really want to play around with a whole lot," Marchand said. "They're welcome to say whatever they want. We are just worried about how we have to play in the room. [Chara] steps up every night and plays his best, so we can expect that."