As the previous steward of the Army Rangers jacket, the piece of clothing given to the most deserving player after each win, it was Patrice Bergeron’s duty to name its next wearer.
In the dressing room following the 3-2 overtime win in Game 1, Bergeron handed the jacket to his captain. Without Zdeno Chara’s 65-inch stick, Bergeron and Brad Marchand might not have gone off to the races for the winning goal.
Moments earlier, the Rangers were threatening. Derick Brassard was stickhandling with speed down the right wing. Brassard spotted Rick Nash locked and loaded across the ice.
But with a flick of his stick, Chara swatted Brassard’s pass aside. Marchand fished the puck off the wall, pushed it up to Bergeron, and put himself in position for the return pass.
“That detail at the end goes a long way,” Bergeron said. “That’s the only reason we get the two-on-one. It’s because of that poke check. In the playoffs, details win games. I thought all game, he had great sticks. We’re missing some key guys back there. But everyone stepped up and did a good job. He was one of them.”
Chara was without usual partner Dennis Seidenberg. Also missing were Andrew Ference and Wade Redden. Three rookies were in their spots: Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, and Torey Krug.
For those reasons, Chara logged a season-high 38:02 of ice time.
Such workloads would crack most mortals. But Chara shrugged off his ice time. Chara’s coach needed him to take every one of those 37 shifts.
“That poke check that he made at the right time, then giving us a chance to come back and score, was huge,” Claude Julien said. “Zdeno does those things over and over. That’s why I say to people that even though he wasn’t nominated for a Norris, he’s been our Norris Trophy winner every year with the way he’s played, the amount of time he’s played, and the players he’s played against. He continues to do that, and we appreciate that kind of play from him a lot. This is the kind of thing you get from Zdeno. Tonight wasn’t any different.”
They weren’t easy minutes. Chara was matched against Nash, one of the strongest power forwards in the NHL. But Chara limited Nash to six shots and one assist in 20:54 of action.
Chara also contributed offensively. In the second period, after taking a pass from David Krejci, Chara hammered a long-distance slapper through Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers goalie had a clear look at Chara’s release. But the shot slipped through Lundqvist’s glove. As Lundqvist fell back, he bumped the puck over the line with his right arm at 12:23 of the second.
Chara is 36 years old. He should be slowing down. But Chara’s fitness and smarts allow him to log big minutes.
Chara is better positionally now than he was earlier in his career. Chara can save his energy by deploying his stick to fend off rushes, not throw his body into the mix.
That’s exactly what Chara did on the game-winning sequence.
Power play heats up
The Bruins went 1 for 4 on the power play. Krug scored the man-advantage strike at 2:55 of the third period to tie the game at 2-2.
The Bruins were equally impressive in overtime after Derek Dorsett was whistled for interference. The No. 1 power-play unit stayed on the ice for 1:39. The Bruins landed six shots on Lundqvist and went wide with several more.
They moved with purpose. They zipped the puck around to put New York’s penalty-killing box in motion. When shots were available, the Bruins took them.
“I really thought our power did a good job,” Julien said. “We had some good chances. He made some really good saves. The power play doesn’t always score. But as long as it gives you some momentum, I don’t think it’s a discouraging thing. It was just about continuing.
“Our guys after the power play said, ‘Let’s keep taking it to these guys.’ We spent the whole two minutes in their end and had some great chances. But Lundqvist made some big saves at the right time.”
Boychuk shaken up
Johnny Boychuk was rattled in the second period. Taylor Pyatt hit Boychuk from behind, slamming the defenseman face-first into the glass. Boychuk went down and needed several minutes to get to his skates. Boychuk skated off the ice with trainer Don DelNegro at his side. After a moment on the bench, Boychuk retreated to the dressing room. Boychuk returned after several minutes and promptly took a shorthanded shift . . . Jaromir Jagr, a third-liner for the first six games against Toronto, started the second round with Marchand and Bergeron as his linemates. Jagr had been with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley prior to the switch. Jagr had two shots in 23:11 of ice time. Tyler Seguin had four shots in 15:56 of action.