June 23, 2013

Stanley Cup notebook: Chicago thriving against Chara

The Bruins needs a quick return to form from Zdeno Chara, their usually reliable defenseman.

The Associated Press

BOSTON - The Chicago Blackhawks haven't just taken control of the Stanley Cup finals, they've done it while Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was on the ice.

The Blackhawks have scored eight of their nine goals in winning the last two games against Boston while the 2009 Norris Trophy winner was defending.

"I don't think there was one thing said where we really wanted to attack him or go at him or try to hit him or anything like that," said Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who scored two goals in Game 5 with Chara on the ice. "I think we're just playing the way we have.

"Sometimes you worry about one player who you're matched up against on the ice, and I've said this before, it goes to your disadvantage because you worry too much and don't play the game you should be playing. I think we just got back to playing the way we have and the way we know how to."

In Game 4, when the Blackhawks beat Boston 6-5 in overtime, Chara was battling in front of the net with Jonathan Toews when Brent Seabrook's shot from the right point beat Tuukka Rask for the winner.

Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville felt his team needed to get more chances at the net after being shut out in Game 3, even when Chara was playing.

"We've felt not so much being physical with him, but in the offensive zone we needed to have better possession time and more time in their end," he said. "Whether it was absorbing hits or finishing checks or going to hard areas and not necessarily worrying about him, I think ... getting to the net was our focus."

Bruins Coach Claude Julien knows the Blackhawks are challenging Chara, but expects his star defenseman to bounce back for Game 6 on Monday night.

"It's pretty obvious that they're throwing the pucks in his corner and they want to get him to turn and tire him out," he said. "He's a well-trained athlete that can handle that, and you'll see that in the next game, and hopefully the one after that."

Rask also relies on Chara to make things tougher for Chicago's top offensive players.

"He's playing against the best players," he said. "It's not so easy to shut them down all the time. He usually does a great job with that and I have no doubts in him."

BRUINS FORWARD Nathan Horton wasn't on the ice when the Bruins rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win the last two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver. Now, he'll likely need to be a big part of any chance to repeat the feat.

"I'm excited," Horton said Sunday, while sporting a few stitches over his left eye from an errant puck to the bench in the Game 5 loss. "A lot of the Boston media bring that up a lot of times. I'm excited just to be a part of it this time and just to be on the ice. Anything can happen, and we just have to play our best."

Two years ago, Horton sustained a concussion in Game 3 and was lost for the reminder of the finals. Before being injured, the winger scored two Game 7 winners. The first came in overtime in the opening round against Montreal. The other was in a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals.

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