It might be obvious to have this be our match-up to watch during this afternoon’s Thanksgiving Showdown but with the way Zdeno Chara plays defense and how Johan Franzen has been finding the net this season, today’s game could hinge on how these two deal with each other.
Chara has been an absolute force on the blue line this season. In the team’s toughest games he’s logging the most minutes and there’s never a game that goes by that doesn’t see him trying to wrangle the opposition’s top line. Sure, Chara is known for his imposing presence and big slap shot, but his ability to rein in the biggest goal scorers in the league is what makes him a perennial Norris Trophy finalist.
Seeing Chara have to get a handle on Johan Franzen, however, presents a different brand of challenge. Franzen can beat defenses in a variety of ways. He can hang around the goal and try to be a menace to both defensemen and goalies with his physical presence. Franzen can also hang around the slot and snipe shots that find even the smallest of openings through a goalie and make defenses look bad for even giving him that much time.
With Franzen going into today’s game leading the Red Wings in scoring (10 goals, 11 assists), expect to see Bruins coach Claude Julien to put Chara out there to try and limit his opportunities. Trying to deal with the Red Wings presents plenty of problems for a coach to try and defend correctly against them, but with Chara you can bank on him to dominate more often than not who he’s put against.