|What are the Bruins without Zdeno Chara?||12.12.11 at 12:22 am ET|
What are the Bruins without Zdeno Chara?
It could be argued that since coming to Boston, No. 33 has been the Bruins’ best player. He’s a nightmare for star forwards, and he executes a simple-sounding but difficult job impeccably: Play upwards of 25 minutes a game, be out there when their best players are on the ice, and see to it that the only guys scoring goals are wearing black and gold.
Now, with Boston Globe reporting Chara will miss at least the next three games and possibly be kept out until after Christmas with a leg injury suffered Saturday night, the Bruins will be without their best player.
The absence of Chara means Steven Kampfer will return to the lineup. Kampfer played three games for the B’s last month when Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk missed time, and the second-year blueliner was a plus-2 over the three games with ice time ranging from 9:07 to 14:49.
Chara, who is as serious about his conditioning as he is on the ice, has been an iron man for his ability to stay in the lineup. Since being traded to Ottawa prior to the 2001-02 season, the 6-foot-9 defenseman has missed more than eight games in only one season. That season was the 2005-06 campaign, and he missed 11 games.
In his five full seasons since signing in Boston, Chara has played at least 80 games every season with the exception of 2007-08, in which he played 77 games.
The last game that Chara missed for the Bruins was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Canadiens. With Chara out with an illness, the B’s dropped the contest, 3-1, with the series looking like it wouldn’t last much longer if Chara were to remain out.
Chara returned for Game 3, and Claude Julien’s super-pairing of Chara and Dennis Seidenberg went on to become a primary reason as to why the B’s won it all.
Chara has played primarily with Boychuk this season, and it will be interesting to see how Julien approaches the defensive pairings with Chara out. Seidenberg obviously becomes the de facto No. 1 defenseman, but will Boychuk remain on the top pairing?
The Bruins saw last year against the Habs that they’re a far less dominant team without Chara in the lineup. For a team that was built around having the league’s best blue liner and strong centers, the next week or so will say a lot about what the Bruins are without a major pillar. The results weren’t so pretty in April, but the B’s were able to stick it out for the remainder of their 5-3 victory over the Blue Jackets.
Ultimately, the biggest bit of news regarding the injury is that it isn’t significant enough to put a major dent in his season. The other good news is that this isn’t the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and that though Chara’s an integral part of the operation, the B’s have been producing enough offensively (with and without Chara, who’s having a career year) to motor through the next week without him. Still, it should be a good test, as the B’s will play back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday against the Kings and Senators, respectively, and will play the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers on Saturday.
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