Zdeno Chara: a seven foot goat on skates? (and other playoff thoughts)

Zdeno Chara isn’t a hockey player, he’s a big angry tree who can slap a puck through my soul. Please don’t take this as a concentrated attack on the big Z.

But let me take you back to a fuzzy age for many of you young ones. You see, there was a time when this team named the Ottawa Senators roamed the earth as near-dominant hockey dinosaurs. While it never really worked out for that team, they were just loaded with talent.

During this period, the Senators chose Wade Redden over Chara and allowed the Big Z to sign a huge contract with the Boston Bruins. It’s hard to believe this really happened, especially since Redden’s play dropped horrifyingly enough to make him become an absolute whipping boy … for the New York Rangers.

Most would say Chara was the obvious choice for the Senators, but it’s more than a bit off putting that he might once again be a scapegoat for a team’s playoff disappointments.

I say “might” because it hasn’t been possible for me to watch much of Chara’s performances. We all know that plus/minus and offensive scoring do not necessarily define a defenseman, but without knowing his Corsi rating and his totals for goals for/against during the playoffs , those stats still tell you a somewhat disturbing story:

If you don’t feel like clicking on that image, Chara’s been held scoreless against Carolina with a -5 rating in the last three games (+1 in Boston’s dominating game 1 victory). Overall in the playoffs he has 1 goal and 1 assist. He’s also been on the ice for some dramatic goals, most noticeably Jussi Jokinen‘s OT GWG in Game 3.

Surely, the blame cannot fall only on Chara’s gigantic shoulders. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Norris Trophy-level D gets a big bowl of blame barring a near-miraculous turnaround.

  • Maybe the Carolina Hurricanes have found the perfect formula: only make the playoffs when you can make a dramatic run.
  • Whether you like the Alex Ovechkin knee-to-knee hit or not, there is NO WAY the NHL is going to have the cajones to suspend him. Even if the Penguins make it to the Conference Finals, truly threatening for the Cup is unthinkable without Sergei Gonchar.

From a “headaches for the league” standpoint, they are probably hoping that the Penguins advance without Gonchar. If not, the league’s in a lose-lose situation: if AO does get suspended, the Caps were screwed; if the Penguins get bounced then Yinzers will claim that we live in a godless society where the (talent) rich are above the law.

Let’s hope this controversy doesn’t mar what has been a true dream series for the NHL.

  • Even though Jonas Hiller had a superhuman performance against the Sharks, I keep finding myself expecting J.S. Giguere to play the role of Ghost of Playoff Goalies Past against the Red Wings. Weird, huh?
  • Finally, make sure to keep your eye on the sidebars.

The Ducks-Red Wings and Penguins-Capitals blogs have been especially busy lately and we also have plenty of goodness going on in the Hurricanes-Bruins and Canucks-Blackhawks blogs. I’ll try to keep a better eye on them as the series go deeper, but don’t let their great (no, make that superior) work slip under the radar.

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