It’s not always easy for Bruins fans to understand why Zdeno Chara is captain of the Bruins. The 6-foot-9 Slovakian is rarely seen motivating his team on the bench the way Shawn Thornton does, and while he is one of the team’s best defensemen, he does not have the same aura on the ice as a Patrice Bergeron. Chara was named captain before playing a single game for the Bruins, a move which can make it seem as if a player was handed a leadership role rather than earning one.
But Chara proved he is very much deserving of the C on his sweater by potting both Bruins goals in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
The Bruins entered the contest in a rough state. The team has been decimated by injury, as Loui Eriksson (concussion), Chris Kelly (broken leg), Dougie Hamilton (lower body injury) and Adam McQuaid (lower body injury) are all on injured reserve while Daniel Paille was a scratch with a concussion, Shawn Thornton remains out of the lineup while he appeals his 15-game suspension, and recently called up forward Matt Fraser was scratched for unknown reasons. The team was also attempting to rebound from a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in which Tuukka Rask was pulled for the first time since the 2011-12 season after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
So the Bruins desperately needed someone to step up Tuesday night, and the captain was the one to do it.
Chara was gathering himself on the bench in the second period after taking an uncalled high stick to the face when Calgary forward Lance Bouma high-sticked David Krejci. The Bruins got the call on that one and Chara deemed himself healthy enough to take the ice for the resulting four-minute power play. The captain got his revenge 2:15 into the power play when he slapped a one-timer past Calgary goaltender Reto Berra to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Chara’s second tally of the night came on another power play resulting from a Bouma high stick. When Calgary pulled its goalie with 2:16 left in the game, Chara had a chance to earn a natural hat trick with an empty net, but he said it was never his intention to go for the personal accolade and instead remained focus on setting up his teammates and shutting down Calgary’s offense.
While goals alone do not necessarily prove a captain’s mettle, Chara’s poise and focus Tuesday were an example of one of the ways he serves as a leader for the Bruins. His strong game will not fix all of the problems the Bruins currently face, but it was a good dose of medicine for a battered team trying to stay afloat until its roster heals.