The Key Stat: 0, as in the number of goals scored by Chara over the last 45 games of the season. He was 2-8-10 overall, and did have six points over that span, but going back to February 4 when that goal drought started, only Boston’s Mike Reilly played more games without scoring a goal (46), and he was one of only eight skaters to record at least 49 shots (the number he had over that stretch) without scoring a goal.
The Good: There are the intangibles – on and off the ice – that speak to his influence on teammates in a positive way, whether it is his influence on a player like Nick Jensen or his effort, sometimes painful, that does not show up on or leap off the stat sheet. But one thing that does jump up off the stat sheet is ice time. The 18:19 he averaged per game was the lowest of his career since he averaged 11:07 in his first NHL season in 1997-1998 with the New York Islanders. But they were meaningful minutes. Washington was 33-6-4 in games in which he skated at least 17 minutes overall. They were 25-5-3 when he logged at least 15 minutes at even strength. He led the all Capitals skaters in shorthanded ice time per game (2:41).
The Bad: The Caps employed six defensemen in their five-game series loss to Boston in the first round of the playoffs. One might say that Chara was sixth among the six. His total ice time (81:18) was lowest among the six defensemen, almost five minutes fewer than Nick Jensen. His total even strength ice time (61:04) was barely half that of Dmitry Orlov at the top of the rankings in that category (110:00). His numbers, relative to the other five Caps defensemen, were not bad, but he did it in a limited role, and one wonders if the Caps would not be better off next year at this time with a young defenseman on the upward arc of his development curve than a veteran near the end of a long career, even if their numbers were comparable.
The Video: Chara scores against his old team; it would be his last goal for the Caps this season.
The Discussion: The big question here, in fact perhaps the key indicator of direction, is “Do the Caps re-sign Chara, or do they go younger on the blue line with players like Martin Fehervary and/or Alex Alexeyev?” It is unlikely at this stage of his career that his numbers will improve, and with that comes a diminished impact on a game-to-game basis. His compensation was not a burdensome cap figure ($795,000 on a one-year deal), and it would seem unlikely he would be due much, if any, of a raise. But does his retention delay unnecessarily the development of defensemen in Hershey, and would the issue of a crowded blue line be compounded if Michal Kempny was to return to the ice for the Caps after battling with injuries? Finally, if he does come back, what would it take for you to give Chara a 10 next season?
The Other Chara Season Reviews: Coming soon!
The Vote: Rate Zdeno Chara below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Zdeno Chara’s 2020-21 season?
This poll is closed