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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara (illness) misses practice again 02.08.17 at 2:31 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara has missed the last two practices with a sickness. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara has missed the last two practices with a sickness. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara has picked one hell of a two-day stretch to miss.

Absent from Tuesday’s practice because he was under the weather, Chara was once again missing from Wednesday’s practice, and his status for tomorrow’s game against the Sharks remains up in the air.

“Still under the weather,” interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Chara. “I don’t want to say anything on [Chara missing Thursday’s game] because he’s a proud guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked through that door tomorrow ready to play, but I haven’t spoken to Z.”

Normally this would not be a big deal, but this means that Chara, the team’s captain since 2006, has been absent for both practices led by Cassidy since the team fired Claude Julien early Tuesday morning.

Cassidy, who did run the defensive group as an assistant coach this year on Julien’s staff, obviously has familiarity with Chara, so it would not be a huge issue for Chara to just jump right into action. And the systems, at least according to those skating them, are relatively similar, so this wouldn’t be as if Chara is jumping into the mix without having any sort of prior knowledge as to what the new coach expects out of his team.

If he’s out of action tomorrow night, the Bruins will rely on a true six-defender unit, which is something they have found some success with this season, as the Black and Gold are 3-2-1 with Chara out of action this season.

The 39-year-old Chara has four goals and 15 points in 49 games this year and leads the Bruins with 23:07 of time on ice per night.

Bruins recall Anton Khudobin, assign Zane McIntyre to minors 02.08.17 at 11:43 am ET
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Anton Khudobin is back with the Bruins. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin is back with the Bruins. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It didn’t take all that long for Anton Khudobin to lose the trust of head coach Claude Julien. It was the number one reason Khudobin was waived and subsequently banished to the AHL, although Khudobin’s one win and .885 save percentage in eight games didn’t help.

But now, with Butch Cassidy the new boss behind the B’s bench with Julien relieved of his duties, it appears as if Khudobin will get another chance at claiming the backup spot as his own for the stretch run.

Summoned from the P-Bruins early this morning, and with Zane McIntyre returned the club in a directly corresponding move, Khudobin was on the ice for today’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is expected to be available (if needed) against the Sharks tomorrow.

The 30-year-old Khudobin has been just OK at the AHL level this season, but has found results, with seven wins in spite of an .896 save percentage in 11 games. Khudobin did start last night’s P-Bruins game against the Albany Devils, and stopped 19-of-20 shots in a 4-1 win.

The Bruins are going to battle for their playoff lives over the next 27 games left on the schedule, and with starter Tuukka Rask already having played 44 games (fourth-most in the NHL) and logged 2,495:19 minutes of time on ice (sixth-most in the NHL), the Bruins will need Khudobin to regain his form as a viable option in net over this next little stretch, or at least show that his struggles remain a factor and allow the team to look outside the organization for a patchwork fix of sorts.

The B’s begin another three games in four nights stretch Thursday against the Sharks, and finish it off with a weekend back-to-back against the Canucks and Canadiens. All three games will be played at TD Garden.

Brad Marchand admits obvious, says Claude Julien rumors became distraction for Bruins 02.07.17 at 5:11 pm ET
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Brad Marchand said rumors of Julien's firing became a distraction. (Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Marchand said rumors of Julien’s firing became a distraction. (Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have tuned the outside media noise out before and they’ll have to, at some point in the very near future, do it again. But they’re human, too, and sometimes even the noise gets too loud to ignore.

But rarely was it as obvious a weight as it was on this Bruins team.

Prior to his Tuesday morning firing, rumors swirled about Claude Julien’s future again and again and again. It even hit the point where Julien himself decided to address the rumors after a seemingly easygoing Saturday practice last month. He said he wasn’t quitting and that he was willing to work through the hard times to make it work.

Julien had the support of his two biggest voices in the locker room, too, as both alternate captain Patrice Bergeron and team captain Zdeno Chara went to bat for him that day. They both said Julien was still their coach, that they believed in the coach and that the messages conveyed and the lessons taught to the club were resonating.

And Claude and the team’s best players did that while the front office — namely general manager Don Sweeney and team president Cam Neely — stayed silent and remained the Carmen Sandiego of NHL GMs and presidents.

That without question allowed his uncertain future to become a distraction long before the Bruins cut the cord with Julien.

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Bruins travel new low road with timing of Claude Julien firing 02.07.17 at 1:32 pm ET
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The Bruins have fired Claude Julien. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have fired Claude Julien. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have had several opportunities to fire coach Claude Julien this year. There were several times where the team probably should have ended their night or began their morning with the severing of the ties between themselves and their coach of a decade.

But Tuesday morning, just hours away from a parade to celebrate Boston’s 10th championship since 2002, this one after another massive Patriots Super Bowl comeback, was not the time. Unless you’re the Bruins, of course, who specialize in this sort of piss-poor timing.

“I didn’t pick this day to take away from the great accomplishment of the New England Patriots,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said to begin his press conference at Warrior Ice Arena.

(No, of course not, but it sure helped you guys get this one out there.)

Make no mistake about it, this was a move that anybody and everybody knew was coming.

Firing Julien wasn’t a matter of if, but rather when.

But the Bruins’ when showed more cowardice than anything else.

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Claude Julien era has come to an end: Bruins fire coach, replace him with Bruce Cassidy 02.07.17 at 8:25 am ET
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The Claude Julien era is over. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

The Claude Julien era is over. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Many were wondering not if, but when. Now they know.

The Bruins finally made the move so may have been anticipating, firing coach Claude Julien Tuesday morning. They will be replacing Julien on an interim basis with assistant coach Bruce Cassidy.

Julien, who was in his 10th season with the Bruins, compiled a record of 419-246-96 in Boston, with the B’s making the playoffs in seven of his previous nine seasons. He led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.

This will be Cassidy’s second stint as an NHL head coach, having served in the same capacity with the Washington Capitals from 2002-04.

The Bruins are currently on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture, sitting in the ninth spot with a record of 26-23-6.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SATURDAY SKATE GUYS TALK ABOUT JULIEN’S JOB

Bruins make predictions for Super Bowl LI 02.05.17 at 5:28 pm ET
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The Bruins are rooting for the Patriots tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are rooting for the Patriots tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are sports fans, too.

And decked out in Patriots gear delivered to the team on Friday at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s no surprise who the Patriots are pulling for tonight in Super Bowl LI between the Pats and Falcons.

It was in 2015 that Milan Lucic picked the Pats to beat the Seahawks 27-24 (the final score was 28-24 in favor of the Patriots), so I had to ask this new group of Bruins who they picked and the final score.

Matt Beleskey: Patriots 35, Falcons 27. 

An Ontario native (and a noted Blue Jays fan), Beleskey is all in on Boston, and the Patriots are included in that. The hard-hitting winger is confidently picking the Patriots, and expects Julian Edelman to score the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Hayes: Patriots 35, Falcons 21. 

The Dorchester native is obviously a Patriots fan, and when asked about who he’s picking for this game, he without hesitation said, “Oh, the Patriots.” When asked for a score, Hayes wanted to try and line it up with his squares, so he’s taking the Patriots by 14 in a 35-to-21 final.

Tim Schaller: Patriots 31, Falcons 24. 

A New Hampshire native, Schaller is amped for this game and knows the importance of that fifth Super Bowl title. “If they win this one, it’s almost like I’d be content with them not winning it again,” Schaller said. But as a New Englander he knows these games are never blowouts, even if you expect them, and he expects another close one.

Zane McIntyre: Patriots 28, Falcons 24. 

A Vikings fan growing up (though he admits it’s been hard to get to games because the hockey schedule and football schedule collide), McIntyre expects a game. “The defenses will be flying around, it’ll be a good one,” McIntyre said. “Barnburner.”

Joe Morrow: Patriots 34, Falcons 24. 

A fantasy football champion this season, Morrow knows what he’s talking about when it comes to football. Well, in a way. He initially picked the Patriots by 10, but when pressed for a score he said, “34 to 24 — is that possible?” Oh yes, very possible.

Brandon Carlo: Patriots win by three.

Wearing a Patriots shirt after practice on Friday, I had to ask the Colorado native the obvious question: Aren’t you a Broncos fan? The 20-year-old admitted that he did like the Broncos when he lived back home, but that he wants to root for the Boston teams now that he’s here. In awe of what Tom Brady is doing at his age, Carlo didn’t have a score, but he did like the Pats by three.

Frank Vatrano: Patriots win by 12.  

The East Longmeadow native didn’t have a score, but he’s taking the Pats by 12.

Bruins shouldn’t find moral victories in loss to Maple Leafs 02.05.17 at 12:04 am ET
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The Bruins are not content with any moral victories from Saturday's loss to the Leafs. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins are not content with any moral victories from Saturday’s loss to the Leafs. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

If this loss happened to the Bruins a month ago, it stings, but they learn from it and move forward. If this loss happens against a team from the Western Conference tomorrow, they likely do the same.

But to lose this game, a 6-5 loss on TD Garden ice, to these Maple Leafs, who are now just one point behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic and with five games in hand, well that’s just plain rotten.

Entering action with a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, and with a chance for that figure to bump up another seven percent with a win, the Bruins instead lost, and saw their playoff hopes dip over nine percent, down to 27.8 percent. The Bruins, who have not had a winning streak longer than three games this season, were already up against the percentages when it came to their playoff aspirations, are now in a situation where they’ll likely have to nab 65 percent of the remaining 54 points on their schedule.

Three-goal comeback from 4-1 down? Valiant effort, sure, but who cares, you still lost.

There are no moral victories left for this team.

It’s just the truth of this team’s situation.

Already entrenched in must-win territory in February, the Bruins lost perhaps the biggest game of the month’s rest-heavy slate.

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