With Chara hurt, Bru­ins need help on D in Stan­ley Cup Game 5

The News-Times - - SPORTS -

BED­FORD, Mass. — The Bos­ton Bru­ins reached the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal de­spite a run of reg­u­lar-sea­son in­juries that pre­vented any­one on the ros­ter from play­ing all 82 games.

Now comes the real test. The Bru­ins are preparing for Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues with­out cap­tain and No. 1 de­fense­man Zdeno Chara, who did not re­turn after he was hit in the face by a de­flected puck on Mon­day night. The St. Louis Blues won 4-2 to even the se­ries at two games apiece.

Bru­ins coach Bruce Cas­sidy of­fered no up­date on Chara’s con­di­tion after ar­riv­ing in Bos­ton on Tues­day ex­cept to say the 2009 Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner was on his way to see a doctor. The fact that Chara returned for the third pe­riod wear­ing a full face shield — and never got back on the ice — sug­gests it is more than the lost tooth or busted lip that usu­ally only keeps a hockey player out long enough to get it stitched up.

“Right now, I’ve got noth­ing,” Cas­sidy said. “But we don’t play for two more days.”

Al­though the 42-year-old Chara is the team’s el­der states­man and emotional leader, Cas­sidy said he is less wor­ried about Chara’s lead­er­ship than his 6-foot-9 pres­ence on the ice.

“Tak­ing great play­ers out of the lineup, that’s the part that hurts the most,” Cas­sidy said. “I’m not wor­ried about our men­tal­ity.”

The Bru­ins have made it through the play­offs with­out de­fense­man Ke­van Miller and also lost Matt Grzel­cyk when he took an el­bow to the head in Game 2 and needed to be helped off the ice. John Moore filled in for him in the third game, which the Bru­ins won.

But they were down to five men on the blue line again Mon­day night when Chara took a de­flected shot from Bray­den Schenn off the right side of the face. He crum­pled to the ice, face­first, and then skated off, with blood drip­ping from his mouth. He returned at the start of the third wear­ing the shield but never went back in the game.

“Very un­com­fort­able, was ad­vised not to re­turn to play,” Cas­sidy said after the game. “Had some stitches, prob­a­bly some den­tal work in the near fu­ture. He wanted to come out on the bench and be with his team­mates.”

His team­mates knew how dif­fi­cult it was for him to just sit there.

“He’s our leader, and the big­gest part of our lead­er­ship,” for­ward David Pas­tr­nak said. “Any­thing that comes out of his mouth … ev­ery­body is lis­ten­ing to him.”

A six-time All-Star and the peren­nial team leader in min­utes played, Chara played a ca­reer-low (not count­ing lock­out years) 62 games this sea­son be­cause of an un­spec­i­fied in­jury that kept him out six weeks in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Al­though it’s too early to rule him out for Game 5 — or per­haps longer — Cas­sidy said the most likely re­place­ments would be Steven Kampfer or rook­ies Urho Vaakanaine­n, Jeremy Lau­zon, and Jakub Zbo­ril. Only Kampfer, with two games of play­off ex­pe­ri­ence, has ap­peared in a post­sea­son game.

“If both guys (Chara and Grzel­cyk) are out, it’s not an easy de­ci­sion,” Cas­sidy said. “It’s not one I want to make, but you have to do what you have to do.”

But don’t rule them out just yet.

“Both of those play­ers, they’re war­riors,” de­fense­man Char­lie McAvoy said. “They’ll do what­ever it takes to play.”

Jeff Roberson / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bos­ton Bru­ins de­fense­man Zdeno Chara lies on the ice after get­ting hit in the face with the puck dur­ing the se­cond pe­riod of Game 4 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal against the St. Louis Blues on Mon­day in St. Louis.

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