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'Big Z' playing big 'D'

Zdeno Chara has 26 points through 50 games this season. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Zdeno Chara has 26 points through 50 games this season. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara was one of the biggest draws of the NHL’s 2011 all-star weekend and he’s also a huge reason the Boston Bruins remain in the top 10 of THN.com’s NHL Power Rankings.

The 33-year-old blueliner, who signed a seven-year, $45.5-million contract extension in October, leads Boston in even strength time on ice average (20:02), shorthanded time on ice (2:50), power play time on ice (3:14), plus/minus (plus-22) and average shifts per game (29.7).

With 10 goals and 16 assists in 50 games this season, he is on pace to finish with 16 goals and 42 points, very close to the seven goals and 44 points he amassed for the Bruins last year. Chara is Mr. Consistent in the offense department: Since 2003, he never has ended a season with fewer than 25 assists and 41 points.

The first half of February promises to be a difficult one for Chara and his teammates, as the Bruins take on Detroit (twice), Dallas and Montreal by the 13th. But the latter half of the month appears to be much easier. Boston begins a six-game road trip against the sad-sack Islanders and Senators, then head west for matchups against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, before returning to Ottawa for a March 1 game.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1

Philadelphia Flyers

1

33-12-5

8-2-0

Flyers have three tough tests this week – a road date against Tampa Bay, then home games against Preds and Stars

2

Vancouver Canucks

2

31-10-9

4-2-4

Kevin Bieksa leads Canucks in giveaways (33), but is second in takeaways (35)

3

Detroit Red Wings

3

30-13-6

6-3-1

Justin Abdelkader has missed eight games, but leads Wings in hits (106)

4

Pittsburgh Penguins

5

31-15-4

6-3-1

Matt Cooke has been assessed 30 minor penalties this season; Dallas’ Steve Ott (31) is the only NHLer with more

5

Dallas Stars

4

30-15-5

7-2-1

Stars have lost just three times in the 26 games they’ve scored first (23-2-1)

6

Tampa Bay Lightning

6

31-15-5

7-3-0

Bolts have league’s best record when trailing first (12-10-2)

7

Boston Bruins

7

28-15-7

7-3-0

Nathan Horton had six goals and 11 points in his first 10 games as a Bruin; in his 10 games before the all-star break, he had just two assists

8

Washington Capitals

9

27-15-9

4-3-3

Alex Ovechkin leads all NHLers…in most missed shots (106)

9

Nashville Predators

8

27-17-6

6-4-0

If Barry Trotz doesn’t win coach-of-the-year, writers who vote on the awards have made a huge mistake

10

New York Rangers

11

29-20-3

5-5-0

Blueshirts have most shorthanded goals (nine) in the league

11

Montreal Canadiens

10

27-18-5

6-2-2

Brian Gionta is the sole Canadien to have at least one power play, shorthanded and game-winning goal this year

12

Anaheim Ducks

14

28-20-4

7-3-0

Plucky Ducks powered by Corey Perry’s five game-winners

13

Phoenix Coyotes

12

25-17-9

6-4-0

Yotes have challenging five-game road trip at end of February that includes dates with Preds, Flyers, Bolts and Hawks

14

Chicago Blackhawks

13

26-20-4

6-3-1

Jonathan Toews has won 571 faceoffs; only Vancouver’s Manny Malhotra (574) has more

15

Minnesota Wild

17

25-19-5

6-4-0

Cal Clutterbuck has 24 more hits than NHL’s next most-physical player (Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu, with 199)

16

San Jose Sharks

16

25-19-6

4-5-1

Joe Thornton tied for second-most giveaways (61) in NHL, but leads league in takeaways (70)

17

Colorado Avalanche

15

25-19-6

4-5-1

Avs play Wild, Ducks twice each in February

18

Carolina Hurricanes

18

25-19-6

6-4-0

All-Star Game captain Eric Staal has lost more faceoffs (580) than any NHLer this season

19

Los Angeles Kings

22

27-22-1

5-5-0

Slumping Anze Kopitar on pace for 26 goals – his worst total since he posted 20 in his rookie year (2006-07)

20

Atlanta Thrashers

20

24-19-9

3-4-3

Thrashers have league’s worst record when scoring first (15-9-7)

21

Calgary Flames

24

24-21-6

6-1-3

Mark Giordano No. 2 in the NHL in blocked shots (127); Rangers’ Dan Girardi is first with 143

22

Buffalo Sabres

23

23-21-5

7-3-0

Sabres tied with Lightning for most shorthanded goals allowed this year (nine)

23

Columbus Blue Jackets

21

23-21-5

3-5-2

Five of Jackets’ 12 February games are against Central Division opponents

24

St. Louis Blues

19

22-20-7

2-7-1

Blues have allowed only one shorthanded goal all season

25

Florida Panthers

25

22-22-5

4-3-3

Panthers have NHL’s second-fewest number of power play goals allowed (25), but fewest number of power play goals scored (19)

26

Toronto Maple Leafs

26

19-25-5

4-5-1

Francois Beauchemin leads league in giveaways (64); two other Leafs (Luke Schenn, No. 2 with 61, and Tomas Kaberle No. 10 with 51) are among the 10 worst NHLers in that department

27

Ottawa Senators

27

17-25-8

1-6-3

Senators have league’s worst record when trailing first (3-18-5)

28

New Jersey Devils

30

16-30-3

6-3-1

Devils’ February schedule includes three games against Hurricanes, two apiece against Rangers, Panthers

29

Edmonton Oilers

29

15-26-8

2-7-1

Theo Peckham leads Oilers in hits with 127; next closest on team is Ladislav Smid (84)

30

New York Islanders

28

15-27-7

2-7-1

At least an Islander is leading the league in something (Zenon Konopka, with a league-high 158 penalty minutes)

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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