Bruins' Chara breaks out in Game 5
Posted May 10, 2009
Updated May 11, 2009
Even with a 3-1 series lead heading into Sunday night’s Game 5, the Hurricanes spoke at length after their win in Game 4 about closing out the series in Boston.
Carolina knew that Boston was a skilled team that simply wasn’t playing well and that if given the chance to find their game, the Bruins could get on the type of roll that could carry them all the way to a series win.
One player who epitomized the underachieving effort put forth by Claude Julien’s team the last three games was Zdeno Chara, the Norris Trophy finalist who had found himself on the losing end of his highly-touted match-up with the Canes’ Eric Staal.
If the entire Boston franchise was a sleeping giant, then the 6-foot-9 Chara was its poster boy.
After the Bruins’ impressive, 4-0 Game 5 win Sunday night with elimination on the line, it’s safe to say the giant is awake.
For the first time in the series, Chara looked the part of one of the NHL’s best blueliners.
On both ends of the ice, the Boston captain was everywhere.
On the offensive end, he tallied two assists, one on Mark Recchi’s redirect in the first period to make it 1-0 for the home team and the other on Phil Kessel’s second goal of the evening that gave his team a three-goal lead and all but put the game out of reach.
Even more than in the box score, Chara’s presence was felt along the boards, where the tallest player in league history consistently punished Hurricanes skaters.
Credited with five hits on the night (the most by any player for either team), the four-time All-Star made a statement when he laid out Eric Staal twice on one shift – once when Chara initiated the contact in the open ice and a second time when Staal tried to exact some revenge on the forecheck.
Certainly, the Canes are still in a good position – they still have the series lead and a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals at the NHL’s loudest house Tuesday night.
With the return of the Bruins’ scoring touch and the re-emergence of one of the game’s greatest defenseman, however, the Hurricanes’ task just got a little more daunting.