Easily one of, if not the best defenseman in the NHL, Chara has made a name for himself by shutting down almost every forward that comes across his path. Part of the reason he’s able to do this is because it seems he’s on the ice every other second. His typical time on ice average hasn’t dipped below 24 minutes since he joined the Bruins in 2006. Come playoff time, he grinds out even more. This past postseason, Chara averaged 29:32 minutes on ice. In layman’s terms, a full game of hockey lasts 60 minutes, and Chara was typically on ice for half of it.
However, coach Claude Julien seems to be leaning against this trend continuing for the 2013-14 season. In an interview with The Boston Globe, Julien stressed that giving Chara less will allow him to give more.
“If he plays a little less, he’s going to give us more,” Julien said. “That’s the small adjustment. That doesn’t mean he’s going from 24 minutes to 19. There’s certainly going to be games where you’re going to see him get as much ice time. But we’re certainly going to keep an eye on that.”
It certainly makes sense to monitor the big man’s minutes this way. He’s currently 36 years old, and getting ready to head into his 16th year in the league. Also, many seemed to take note of how gassed Chara looked near the end of the Bruins playoff run last year. His series against the Chicago Blackhawks was not one of his finer moments, and as Chicago closed it out, it looked like Chara was just plain worn down.
The Bruins are expected to contend again this year, so making sure Chara is rested for the postseason is a must. Boston’s depth at the blue line will definitely help their cause. Johnny Boychuck, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid all return this season to add veteran presence among Boston’s defense. The team will also have young guns rounding everything out, with Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and playoff darling Torey Krug all vying for their place on the starting roster.
This year brings back the 82 game season as well, so if Chara was looking a little deflated at the end of a lockout-shortened 48 game campaign, he’ll definitely need to be watched over for the full year.
But, as Julien said, don’t expect Chara’s minutes to drop too significantly. If you’re a star forward for Boston’s opposing team, expect to see the Bruins’ giant hop over the boards whenever you take the ice.