Boston, MA –
After a long Olympic tournament, Zdeno Chara
seems more than ready to get back into his comfortable NHL routine.
The Slovakia and Bruins captain led his Olympic team to a commendable fourth-place finish after a 3-2 loss to Canada in the semi-finals. It was a hard-fought game with Slovakia’s third period surge coming up short against the eventual gold medal Canadians.
He registered three points through the tournament and a team-high of over 164 minutes of playing time.
“It was a good experience obviously, playing in the Olympics,” he said.
“It’s a special event to play for our own countries. It was a privilege. It’s just too bad we didn’t do a little bit better.”
Now, after being pushed out of medal contention by the Canadians, Chara must face a strong Canadiens team, who, when compared to their Olympic brethren, and as the arch rivals of the Black & Gold, have had many more historical "differences" with the B's than just the one letter.
Montreal comes into Boston with only a single point separating the Habs and the B’s in the standings, not to mention an almost century-long rivalry, emotions will be running high. Chara and his other Olympian teammates will have little time to adjust, but they’d have it no other way.
“It’s a different look. I mean, playing Canada in the Olympics was extremely hard and it was really challenging,” Chara said. “Obviously now we’re facing different challenges in our season.
“We want to make sure that we’re going to start where we left off before the break and we know it’s going to be a hard battle until the playoffs.”
After having only a few days to rest after his two-week Olympic stint, Chara said he and his Slovakian teammate Satan will still play tonight. Bruins head coach Claude Julien agreed and said that he would prefer they miss practice instead of such an important game.
“I think if Zee was capable of playing twenty-something minutes in the final game, I don’t see why three days later he can’t play that for us,” Julien said. “If he needs rest, he can take some practices off and we will deal with that situation as we move on.”
Chara did not give any indication that extra rest would be necessary, however. Instead he focused on tonight’s match-up and keeping the momentum alive.
“It starts tonight, so hopefully we’re all going to be sharp and ready to play,” he said. “It’s a big rivalry and it’s going to be a really emotional game.
“We just hope that we are ready.”