Columnist: Chara could use a break

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If you’ve been watching the Boston Bruins or the Olympics at all, you’ve probably seen a lot of Zdeno Chara.

This season, the Bruins captain is averaging 25:59 of ice time per game, his highest amount since 2008-09 when he was logging an average of 26:09 per game. In his past two games, back-to-backs no less, he played right at his average minutes for the season.

As Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe says, maybe it’s time to give the big guy a breather.

Chara’s done his job in the three post-break games. Against Washington, Chara helped to prevent Alex Ovechkin from scoring at even strength. One night later, Chara and Dougie Hamilton kept New York’s top line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash from beating Rask.

But Chara’s heavy legs indicate he’s not running on a full tank. Playing 25-plus minutes in back-to-back games uses a lot of gas.

The results are still there, although dropping games to the Sabres and Capitals coming out of the Olympics wasn’t ideal for the Bruins and neither is burning out Chara before the playoffs.

How do you ease Chara’s minutes then? Shinzawa suggests they take a look at landing Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald at the deadline. The problem there is Isles GM Garth Snow is asking for a healthy, and perhaps overpriced, return for the impending unrestricted free agent.

With Dennis Seidenberg done for the season and a host of younger defensemen surrounding Chara, the Bruins are asking a lot of him now. Asking for more in the postseason could be too much.