Much is being made of Zdeno Chara's decision last night to pummel Canadien's defenseman Alexei Emelin after his cross-check cheap shot to the ribs of Tyler Seguin. Chara wasted no time following the play in finding Emelin, decking him, and then delivering a sequence of punches that would make even the toughest guys quiver (some of those punches were thrown while Emelin was still on the ice).
As a result, the Bruins star defenseman spent 17 minutes off the ice, during which time the Canadiens notched two goals and secured a 4-3 victory. In this sense they were able to get under the Bruin's skin and use it to their advantage by getting their best player off the ice during a critical part of the game.
After John Scott of the Sabres pummeled Shawn Thornton in a game last month; many believed Chara should have used it as an opportunity to exact revenge upon Scott in a fight, which he chose not to do. This time, he did not hesitate in defending young Seguin. Speaking on Chara's backing of the valuable forward, Claude Julien made clear he was in full support of what Chara did:
“What Zdeno Chara did yesterday, I support 100 percent,” said Julien. “Besides that 17 minutes of penalties he got, what he did is going to go a long way for our hockey club. Especially for Tyler Seguin. Tyler’s a good player. He needs to know everybody’s got his back. Zdeno showed that yesterday. That will allow Tyler to become a better player" (Quote from BostonGlobe.com)
I am personally with Claude on this one. Emelin was not penalized for his cheap shot, which injured Seguin briefly. It was a situation where someone on the Bruins needed to respond and let it be known that opposing players cannot play dirty like that and get away with it, especially with a player like Seguin who has the potential to be the team's best scorer.
As Claude emphasized, Chara demonstrated that he has Seguin's back in situations like that. Having that insurance going forward should enable Seguin to be more comfortable on the ice, which is very important. However, the Bruins cannot let their emotions take them out of a game on a regular basis as it did last night.
Chara needs to be on the ice for the Bruins to beat the best competition in the league; but there are certain scenarios where he needs to step up as an enforcer and protect his teammates in a way that no one else on the team can. Last night was one of those situations. And when that happens, the rest of the team needs to step their game up and make sure the game doesn't slip away during Chara's absence.
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