– When Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara
and Nashville Predators blueliner Shea Weber take the ice for today’s 1 p.m. tilt, don’t be alarmed if the smell of charred rubber infiltrates the pores of the TD Garden.
Anybody that watched the NHL’s Hardest Shot contest knows these two can send the puck to the net at implausible speeds.
But just as impressive as Chara’s record-breaking 108.8 mph shot and Weber’s 106 mph bomb is their abilities to defend the blue line.
“Those guys are both some of the best defenseman in the league, if not the best,” forward Rich Peverley
said after Friday’s morning practice. “Weber’s got a great shot and he’s tough to play against, so it will be a good challenge [for Chara].”
Weber is second on the Predators with 36 points (10-26-36), while defensive partner Ryan Suter isn’t far behind with 32 (6-26-32).
The 68-point production from Nashville’s two defensemen is matched only by Vancouver’s Alexander Edler (7-31-38) and Kevin Bieksa (5-25-30) – but it’s their ability to force a team to tap into it’s depth that impresses Head Coach Claude Julien.
“One has an unbelievable shot and the other really has good mobility,” Julien said. “Their both top-notch Ds. They play together a lot, and obviously that’s where you rely on your depth as a team. If they’re going to shut down certain players, then other players have to step up and do their share.
“It’s something that we do a lot to other teams and this is one team capable of doing it to others as well.”
Peverley, who spent three years with the Predators from 2006-09, said the Bruins are ready to meet the task head on.
“We didn’t put a very good showing in Buffalo and we know that,” Peverley said. “This time of year we have to ramp up our game. We can’t be happy with where we’re at and this is a challenge against a great team.”--- Anthony Gulizia