Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was relieved from the burden of unrealized expectations with Friday night's 1-0 victory over the Lightning in Game 7.

Beginning Wednesday in Vancouver against the Canucks, the Bruins will play in their 18th Stanley Cup finals and 15th since the NHL adopted the best-of-seven format.

Chara was awarded the captaincy upon his arrival from Ottawa in 2006, and he's been grinding toward this achievement ever since. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman was hired to be the difference maker and he's been scrutinized by Bruins fans who couldn't get beyond the label. It took Chara five seasons, four under coach Claude Julien, to arrive at this juncture.

Chara took the fall when three Bruins playoff runs during his tenure never got beyond the conference semifinal round. Chara was devastated and his leadership credentials were questioned following the Bruins collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers last year.

By sweeping the Flyers in four games in the East semifinals and shutting down the high-powered Lightning in Game 7 on home ice, Chara was entitled, more than any other player in the Bruins locker room, to savor his moment.

"Well, it's obviously very exciting," said Chara. "It's something that this team, this organization, this city has been waiting a long time for.

"So, obviously we are very excited. We can enjoy the moment, but we are going to go back to work (today)."