VANCOUVER — If Zdeno Chara’s minutes aren’t wearing him down, he has a funny way of showing it.
In what was by far his worst healthy game of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Chara’s giveaway directly led to Vancouver’s game-tying goal late in regulation and then he failed to close out Alexandre Burrows before the Canucks winger scored the overtime game-winner in a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver now leads the series 2-0.
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is wins and losses,” said Chara when asked to assess his play.
Chara finished the night with 28:12 of ice time. But it was the last 11 seconds of that that will stand out the most when the history of this series is written. After Andrew Ference’s giveaway in the neutral zone, Chara wasn’t able to catch up to Burrows. With a little desperation, he might’ve been able to make a hit or take a game-saving penalty, but instead the Canucks celebrated after the wraparound goal.
It was Chara who lost the puck at his skates to Henrik Sedin down low leading up to the tying goal as well. Sedin fed the puck out to Alex Edler and after a pass of a loose puck over to Daniel Sedin, the Canucks had knotted the game.
And it was Chara who took an ill-advised interference penalty on the Ryan Kesler to send the Canucks on their first power play, which turned into the game’s first goal.
As the Bruins’ biggest player and best defenseman — not to mention their captain — Chara is held to a higher standard then others. When he was coming back from the dehydration problem that kept him out of Game 2 of the first-round Montreal series, he was given the benefit of the doubt. At this point of the season, there can’t be much margin for error.
But head coach Claude Julien refused to point a finger directly at Chara.
“Well, I guess, all of a sudden you lose a game and now we’re going to start wondering about certain players. I think it’s really about our whole team. It’s not about Zdeno. Zdeno didn’t lose the game for us tonight. Our whole team did,” said Julien. “I don’t think we played very well, to what our standards are all about. I think the decision-making, the puck-management, it’s what’s costing us games. When you turn pucks over in the neutral zone, this is a team [Vancouver] that thrives on it. We know that they thrive on it, yet we kept turning pucks over in the neutral zone. We have to be a little better in those areas.”
Chara can set the tone for the rest of his club by doing those things better in Game 3. If he doesn’t, he won’t have to worry about logging too many minutes over the course of a long series because this series will be quite short.