DALLAS — The Bruins do not like to give Zdeno Chara two shifts off, let alone two games.
But when Chara approached general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien to request an early Olympic dismissal, the bosses approved the captain’s request with little hesitation.
Chara has been selected to carry the Slovakian flag during the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. The event will take place in Sochi on Feb. 7.
“I think I did the right thing, asking the Boston Bruins organization if they would be all right with that,” said Chara. “After I got the OK, it was kind of a busy process from there. It’s something I wouldn’t even think about selfishly to decide without asking for permission. I’m very thankful. It’s a huge, huge honor.”
The Bruins play in St. Louis Feb. 6. They play their final pre-break game at home against Ottawa Feb. 8. It’s likely that Chara will miss both games.
“When you look at what Z has done for this club, I think it’s an easy decision to make,” Julien said before Boston’s 4-2 win over the Stars. “You’re carrying your country’s flag at the Olympics. Even if he misses a game and maybe two, I think that’s the least we can do for a guy who’s given us so much since he’s been here.”
Chara will be Slovakia’s captain. Slovakia finished fourth in the 2010 Olympics after losing to Finland in the bronze medal game. Slovakia will be an underdog again.
Chara has played in all but one game this season. Chara didn’t play against Ottawa Dec. 28 because of an undisclosed injury. Chara entered Thursday’s game averaging 25:02 of ice time per appearance.
The Bruins will be without their two best defensemen for at least one game. Dennis Seidenberg is out for the season.
“I think it’s great for him,” said Julien, who will join Chara in Sochi. “We’re going to miss him. I think it’s pretty obvious that you miss a guy like that. But he’s been such a committed player for us on and off the ice. He would have taken whatever answer we would have given him. To me, it was an easy decision.”
A shining star
Tyler Seguin starts approximately 60 percent of his shifts without the puck. Yet Seguin still leads the Stars in scoring with 21 goals and 23 assists. If Seguin can improve at the dot, he and linemate Jamie Benn will have the puck even more, which would lead to even greater offensive chances.
“It’s the experience of the other centermen I’m going against,” said Seguin (41.9 percent winning percentage). “They can change it up and do different things. It’s just knowing what to do against the certain things they’re doing. It takes time. I work at it pretty much every practice.”
Seguin was good on the draw against his old team, winning 10 of 14 faceoffs.
Coaches often say that winning faceoffs comes down to competing, which was not always one of Seguin’s assets in Boston. New coach Lindy Ruff has been alert to push Seguin to compete in the areas that don’t come as easily as his offensive game.
“I don’t think it’s something you solve in a small window,” Ruff said. “A small window isn’t a couple months. You have good games. You have tougher games. I like his determination after a tougher game. In some of the meetings, it’s trying to push him to be better in a couple areas. He always responds. He’s a young player. I expect there to be ups and downs. He’s trying to push himself to be better in these areas.”
The trade has helped both teams. The Stars landed their No. 1 center. Rich Peverley (5-16—21) is playing in all situations.
“It’s not only the goals and assists,” Peverley said of his fellow ex-Bruin. “I’ve seen a lot in his game just from watching every single game. I’ve seen a lot in his defensive game. He competes a lot down low. He’s really taken a big step in his development.”
Reilly Smith is the Bruins’ second-leading scorer. Loui Eriksson is trying to find his game after suffering his second concussion. Matt Fraser filled a third-line role when injuries struck earlier this season.
“I don’t think you can label it on one season or one game,” Seguin said of the deal. “It’s generally over time. I remember when I first got drafted to the Bruins. Everyone was asking about the Phil Kessel comparison. I was saying I’m 18. It’s going to take a lot to compare. I think it’s the same with any trade. From what I’ve been hearing, it seems to be a win-win for both organizations. I’m happy where I am.”
Eriksson got a scare in his first game at the American Airlines Center since the July 4 trade. In the second period, former teammate Brenden Dillon dropped Eriksson in the neutral zone with a heavy hit. Eriksson, who’s suffered two concussions this season, got to his skates immediately. Eriksson remained on the bench and finished the game. “It was a good test,” Eriksson said of the hit. “I felt all right after that one. I haven’t had any bad feelings after. It was a good test.” . . . Ryan Spooner has 10 assists in 20 games but has yet to score a goal. “He’s capable of scoring some goals,” Julien said. “He’s got to find a way to get some of those goals and get that zero off that goal scoresheet. He’s very capable of doing that . . . Dougie Hamilton missed his second straight game because of a concussion. Hamilton will miss his third straight game on Sunday against Chicago.