How much does Zdeno Chara have left at 40?

This post is part of Bruins Day on PHT…

By most measures – including the “eye test” – Zdeno Chara has lost a few steps, with last season providing the starkest example.

The tricky thing with declining superstars is weighing how you remember them vs. whether or not they remain effective. In the case of the Boston Bruins, the archaic structure of Chara’s contract makes it easier to reconcile his decline in 2017-18; his cap hit sinks from just under $7 million to a trimmer $4 million.

If things were totally fair to “The Big Z,” both fans and management would expect Chara’s work to be closer to that of a $4M player.

A No. 1 defenseman’s burden

Such a mindset would represent a change of pace, as reports of Chara’s decreased workload seem largely exaggerated.

Yes, 23:20 time on ice per game represents his lowest average since 2001-02, but he still easily topped all Bruins skaters in ice time. Torey Krug was second with 21:36 and Brandon Carlo was a quick study with 20:48, representing the only B’s who averaged 20+ minutes.

Those aren’t cushy minutes, either. Chara easily averaged the most shorthanded time per game, too, with 3:46 per night. Carlo came in second with just 2:36.

More of his shifts are starting in the defensive zone, too. In 2016-17, he began 58.9 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone versus just 41.1 in the offensive zone. That’s his highest d-zone percentage since Hockey Reference’s numbers began recording in 2007-08 and the lowest of his career for offense via those same metrics.

In stating that he wants to play beyond next season, Chara not-too-surprisingly welcomed the big minutes, as NESN reported in late April.

“I can only control what I can control, and that’s being in shape and when they give me those minutes, I’m handling them,” Chara said. “I love it. I enjoy it. I want to be on the ice all the time and I want to be on the ice in all the situations.”

Time to temper expectations?

Even at his advanced age, Chara tends to put up decent possession stats, though things admittedly get fuzzier when you go deeper.

To his credit, he’s still scoring at a decent clip, relatively speaking.

He generated a respectable 29 points (including a robust 10 goals) last season, and managed 37 in 2015-16.

Chara’s effectiveness seems to trend toward those offensive numbers lately. This chart compares him to its template for a No. 1 defenseman, and it seems that Chara seemingly slipped out of that designation:

By the fancy-stats-friendly (but also eye-friendly) setup of HERO charts, Chara probably rests closer to a No. 2 defenseman. There’s no shame in that, especially for a 40-year-old man, but his precipitous drop is as apparent in “fancy stats” terms as it is to most onlookers.

Pass the torch

As painful as 2016-17 was at times, it also seemed like Carlo and later, Charlie McAvoy, really rose up the ranks in the Bruins’ defense.

Between Carlo, McAvoy, and Torey Krug, Boston is gaining players they trust more and more. Even if Chara were to continue playing and continue playing with the Bruins, the 2017-18 season seems like an obvious time to transition a greater share of the responsibilities to younger blueliners.

Chara isn’t what he used to be, but he still has the potential to help the Bruins win. Just not like he used to, and if the B’s are smart, not even like he used to last season.

The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.


Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head


We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.