When the Bruins go on the power play, it’s easy enough to spot Zdeno Chara. He’s 6 feet 9 inches, and he is frequently taking up most of the space in front of the opponent’s goal, ready to tip shots or pick up rebounds. But he’s also on the move on the power play, and that’s how he confounded the Calgary Flames Tuesday night, scoring a pair of power-play goals as the Bruins knocked out a 2-0 victory.
Chara connected so well with power-play partners Jarome Iginla and David Krejci, the trio looked like a tried and true forward line. But Chara reminded that effort can pay off just as chemistry can.
“I’m just trying to work hard and be there for those pucks, creating traffic and finding some openings,’’ Chara said. “The main thing is just to work extremely hard.
“I always say it’s nice to have a man advantage, but if you don’t outwork those four guys, it’s not going to happen for you.’’
Midway through the second period, Lance Bouma was given a four-minute high-sticking penalty after hitting Kevan Miller. With the game scoreless, the Bruins went to work moving the puck around the Flames’ zone.
Iginla took control on the left side, waited for space to open up, then zipped a pass to Krejci at the point. Krejci spied Chara at the right circle and flung a pass that Chara one-timed into the net at 7:38. The captain roared with pleasure.
In the third period, again on the power play, Chara was in front of the net. And again, Iginla reined in the puck on the left side, firing a shot at the net. The puck bounced off Chara’s skates and he reached down and poked it past Flames goalie Reto Berra at 3:19.
They were the fifth and sixth power-play goals of the season for Chara and with nine goals, he is tied with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for the goal-scoring lead among defensemen. Chara also has five assists.
“He’s a huge man but he’s also got a huge reach — he finds those spots,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s also been pretty good about reading off the guys who have the puck and sometimes it’s not about being the screen, sometimes it’s about being an outlet. He’s reading off guys pretty well. It’s been an adjustment for him, going from the back end to the front end, but he seems to be getting more and more comfortable.”
Chara has been on the front line of the power play throughout the season, but as the unit’s experience grows, the Bruins have found different ways to use Chara’s powerful shot and his hockey savvy.
“We’re just trying to work on it in practice, to read off each other,’’ Chara said. “Wherever the puck is, you just need to fill the spots and positions and that doesn’t always necessarily mean that I have to be in front.
“We can rotate; when you look at the game in Calgary, David was in front, was able to tip the puck and score.
“Sometimes [Milan Lucic], Iggy, whoever is in that position, closest, and is going to have to fill that spot and so we are able to now read off each other much better than we were maybe early on.
“That’s a way easier play that way than always running back to your spot and being maybe out of position.’’
Iginla was pivotal to Chara’s two goals, finding a way to get the puck to Chara.
“Nobody shoots it harder than him, so if we can, we get him shots,’’ said Iginla. “But at the same time, in front of the net, nobody’s stronger than him, so he’s a hard guy to push out of there.’’
Iginla said Chara’s ability on the forecheck adds to his power-play presence.
“We put him in and he’s big; as a D going back there, they have to contend with him and then big [Lucic] coming back,’’ said Iginla. “So we tend to win a lot of dump-ins and battles because of the guys’ size and their strength. So we’re lucky to have him on our power play, for sure.”