At times during the regular season, Zdeno Chara was not quite so dominating, a little less machine-like than he’s been in past years. The 36-year-old Chara’s game seemed to have slipped (a relative term) to the point that some of us writers had decided to keep him off their Norris Trophy ballots for the first time in years (guilty as charged).

But so far in the postseason, he’s making us all look like fools. Chara has logged back-to-back Herculean efforts. First there was the 35-minute, 46-second performance in Monday’s Game 7 win for the ages over Toronto when he was a plus-2, picked up an assist and created an eclipse-like screen that created Patrice Bergeron’s game-tying goal.

Then in Game 1 against the New York Rangers, he played 38:02 and produced another plus-2 with a goal and an assist, the latter of which came on his great poke check of Derick Brassard that was turned around for Brad Marchand’s overtime game-winner.

With Game 2 not until tomorrow, the Bruins were kept off the ice and only a few players were available to reporters yesterday, but the ones who were present were still glowing about their captain’s performance.

Not that David Krejci was surprised, mind you.

“I know what he can do,” Krejci said. “Even though he wasn’t nominated for the Norris Trophy, he should have been. He’s the best defenseman out there. Maybe he doesn’t have as much offensive skill of a (Erik) Karlsson or a couple of other guys out there, but overall he’s been great for us. Not just this playoff, but this season and the last few years.”

Gregory Campbell has also come to expect greatness from Chara.

“He’s a pretty special player,” Campbell said. “I don’t think you could really appreciate him until you play with him and you see the work ethic on and off the ice and the way he carries himself and the leadership that he has.

“Especially now. He’s always the No. 1 defenseman, but now we have a couple of young kids in the lineup and he’s a guy we have to rely on even more so, if you can believe it. He’s the guy that plays against the top players every single night, and that’s a tough job to shut down guys like Rick Nash, and you can go through the list. To have to shut down those guys and then to have to produce at the other end is equally as hard.