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Challenging Chara

by Mike G. Morreale
Before dealing with the unorthodox but extremely effective Tim Thomas in goal for the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers know 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara will be waiting.

It's a challenge in itself for those quick and aggressive Flyers' forwards. In his team's seven-game series triumph over the Montreal Canadiens, Chara notched just one assist, but he also delivered 19 hits and blocked eight shots.

"He is six feet and nine inches and is extremely strong," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "He makes it tough to go around the corners and has a big shot. He has a great hockey sense and makes it tough to play against him. He finishes his checks and plays strong."

And in order to have success, Richards admits "we're going to have to lay the puck in behind him and make him
move a little bit, make his life back there a little difficult."

Danny Briere, who was tied for the League-lead in goals (6) through one round of the playoffs, admits the Flyers must force the big Bruin to skate and chase in his own end.

"It was kind of the same way with (Tyler) Myers with Buffalo," Briere said. "You have to find ways to make him work. It's not going to be easy and we know that. I have had the chance to face (Chara) a few times in the playoffs. He's going to make it tough on us, but we are not going to back down. That's the only way to approach it, and you have to be willing to compete against him."

Briere feels forcing Chara to move as often as possible might be the secret to generating chances when he's on the ice -- which is quite often as he's averaged a League-leading 28:48 of ice time in these playoffs.

"You have to go around him and make him work," Briere said. "When you're as big as him, it uses a lot of energy to try to chase you. I guess that's the idea with a guy like Chara."

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