The start of the 2021-22 season hasn’t been kind to Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old blueliner looked every bit his age in the New York Islanders‘ start to the campaign. Which, rightfully, had fans worried about the Isles blueline.
Chara isn’t an extra on the blueline he was playing a top-four role for the team. His 183:48 total ice time is fourth on the team. Only Dobson and Greene have less ice time, Dobson is just slightly behind Chara with 183:09.
So Chara’s rough start was particularly evident. It stood out and needed to be rectified. And while Chara hasn’t reverted to his 30-year-old self, when he was constantly in the running for the Norris Trophy, he’s trending in the right direction.
New York Islanders Zdeno Chara trending in the right direction
Game Score is a stat that was conceived to measure a player’s impact on a game using a single number. It takes a number of factors into consideration such as goals, assists, blocks, expected goals-for (and against), again it takes a bunch of data to create a single stat.
It’s not perfect, but it is a good measure of a player’s quality night-in and night-out. And of late, Zdeno Chara has started to factor positively for the Islanders.
Of course, Chara’s two points over the last three games helps him here, but it’s been more than that for Chara. In those last three games, he’s amassed a 2.72 xGF while only giving up 1.64 xGA. And it’s not under sheltered minutes as well.
Over those three games, he’s averaged 18:53 of ice time while averaging 18:10 in the seven games prior.
And look, Chara won’t soon (or ever) return to that Norris form. He also still ranks lowly in Dom Luszczyszyn’s GSVA model (subscription required) with a -0.1 score. The lowest on the Islanders blue line.
There’s still a long way to go on the season. But if Chara can be a serviceable member of the Islanders defensive core -recently he’s shown he can – he’ll be worth it. It doesn’t mean that the Isles may not look for an upgrade in the trade market, but if this continues they won’t need to rush in order to make that upgrade.