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A Nose for Leadership

by Samantha Wood / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, of Slovakia, center, is congratulated by teammate after his goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the third period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, April 8, 2010. The Bruins won 3-1. gaining 2 points in the East race. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston, MA – After a unpenalized high-stick from Washington’s Alexander Semin broke Zdeno Chara’s nose on Monday, many B’s fans feared the worst. With the recent rash of injuries during the most critical point in the season, the last thing the Black & Gold needed was to lose their “Big Zee.”

But after two days and minor surgery, the tough Bruins captain was back in the lineup, only missing a total of two shifts.

“Well, again, that says a lot about him, right? Zdeno understands the situation right now,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “We are already a little thin as it is and he didn’t want to miss more than he had to.

“I think he has really responded well in this last stretch here. I think we have seen him play some of his better hockey of the season.”

Armed with a full cage on his helmet to protect his already-fragile nose, Chara logged a team-high 30 minutes and 20 seconds of ice time last night.

He also led the team in shots (8) and plus/minus (+2), along with Johnny Boychuk. The towering captain wrapped up the night with an assist on the B's third goal.

Without Mark Stuart, Andrew Ference, or Dennis Seidenberg, the B's four remaining defensemen, as well as some reinforcements from Providence, were left to pick up the slack on the backend. They ended up filling the first through fourth slots for most ice time last night and helped keep the Sabres to only one goal.

When asked how they are dealing with the gaps in the lineup, Chara made sure to recognize recent Providence call-ups, Adam McQuaid and Andy Bodnarchuk.

“Yeah, I mean, you can’ be really forgetting about those other two guys, McQuaid and Bodnarchuk. They still are chipping in,” Chara said. “They still are helping us out and it’s not just us four in the backend. It’s six guys and we all are chipping in.

“It doesn’t matter if someone plays ten minutes or thirty minutes, we all are going to the same – towards the same thing.”

After the game, Coach Julien pointed out not only Chara’s well-documented defensive talent, but also his ability to dominate the offensive zone.

“He has. I think, I’ve seen in the last month, a determination in him that he’s going to make sure that this team makes it past the regular season,” Julien said. “He’s played solidly for us. He’s played through a lot of things, as you can see tonight.”

Although the goal has always been getting that elusive playoff berth, Chara insisted his squad is still taking it one game at a time and just win each battle at a time.

“For sure it was a big game for us,” Chara said. “It was for sure big points on the line and so we are happy with the win and we got to get ready for next game.

“We’ll see what’s going to happen around the league but we can’t be relying on other teams losing. We got to keep moving forward and try to win as many games as possible until the end.”

As the B’s head into their last two games of the regular season, Chara has proven that they have a capable and determined leader at the helm. Julien said perseverance like that is exactly what he’s come to expect from the veteran captain.

“Even though he was going to play, it wasn’t easy,” Julien said. “Breathing isn’t easy for him, but he, again, he found a way to come in there a play a solid game for us.

“So he’s been the leader that we all expect him to be.”
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