Blackhawks getting in Zdeno Chara's face

Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara hits Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell to the ice during Game 4 of the...

Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara hits Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell to the ice during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden in Boston, June 19, 2013. (ADAM HUNGER/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

CHICAGO - Down and out.

Those are not two words you would often use to describe Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, but that was one of the images that summed up the way Game 4 went for the former Norris Trophy-winning defenceman.

After partner Dennis Seidenberg’s pinch resulted in a 2-on-1 in the second period, Chara went down on his stomach and stretched out to try and prevent Chicago Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik from passing the puck to Marcus Kruger.

In other words, the end of Chara’s stick was somewhere near the blue line and his feet were almost at the goal line.

Still, Frolik got the pass around him and Kruger scored to make it 4-2 in a game the Hawks would go on to win 6-5 in overtime.

Chara wound up on his stomach in the corner to left of Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask as Kruger tucked in the puck.

Chara was on the ice for five of Chicago’s goals, including the one in overtime.

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews got position on Chara in front, obscuring the look for Rask on the game-winning goal off the stick of Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook.

One of the keys for the Hawks if they are to take control of this Stanley Cup final, which is tied 2-2 going into Game 5 Saturday night, is to continue to get some hits, not just on Chara, but the entire Bruins defence corps.

The Hawks were physical with the 6-foot-9 Chara and that likely went a ways in reducing his effectiveness.

“He doesn’t like getting hit. Not a lot of guys attempt it, but to get a hit on him and to see him fall down, it’s rare, but I just needed to keep it going,” said Chicago winger Bryan Bickell, who was reunited on a line with Toews and Patrick Kane for the game.

“I think any time you can get a chance to lay the body on him, (being) one of our bigger guys, it’s big for the team and can spark us and get us going.”

Rather than try and play away from Chara to avoid what seems like his board-to-board reach, the Hawks decided to go right at Chara. He is not the fleetest of foot as nimble as he is for a 6-foot-9 man on skates and he can be as vulnerable as the next guy when he has to turn and chase down pucks that are put behind him.

“I think maybe at times in the first couple games we were giving him a little bit too much respect by trying to keep the puck away from him,” said Toews.

“He logs a lot of minutes. To hit him, just to finish your check – not a huge hit – you just need to wear him down and just know that we’re coming on him. Forcing him, maybe we’ll get some turnovers or just to wear him down, but we just need to get our hits in when we can,” said Bickell.

All that said, the feeling among the Hawks on Friday was the even if they manage to continue their game plan of bumping Chara, it’s no guarantee he’ll have a night like he did in Game 4.

“No, I don’t think so,” said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp when asked if the Hawks had figured Chara out. “He’s a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman. He’s one of the best in the league and I think that last game was just something out of the ordinary, that’s for sure. We’re definitely not sitting in here thinking we’ve got him figured out. That’s ridiculous.”

Kane said the Hawks have to stick to their game plan.

“Against him, I think sometimes you worry so much about who you’re playing against that it goes to your disadvantage. You just want to play the game,” said Kane.

“We scored five goals against him. I don’t think you’ll see that in any other game this series.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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