|Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) mum on opening night status||10.07.15 at 12:45 pm ET|
As the Bruins held their final practice in anticipation of the 2015-16 season Wednesday at TD Garden, Zdeno Chara may have taken a step closer to being game-ready.
Chara was present as the Bruins practiced the power play prior to practice, switching off with Zach Trotman on the point of Boston’s second unit. During one of the first unit’s turns, Chara took a pair of light slap shots against the boards, marking the first time he’d been seen taking slap shots since suffering his upper-body injury on Sept. 24. Overall, the day was another step in the right direction for the Bruins and their captain as the B’s prepare to open the season against the Jets on Thursday.
“I was just focusing on having a good practice today,” Chara said. “That went well, so again, we’re going to be looking towards tomorrow to have a better feeling and better knowledge.”
Chara danced around the subject when asked about his comfort with slap shots, responding that he was “just doing the drills that we had been told to do.” He was also somewhat equivocal on the subject of whether he still needs to be medically cleared to play.
The Bruins had eight defensemen practice Wednesday, seven of whom are on the active roster given that Chara is on injured reserve. Based on Wednesday’s practice, it would appear Colin Miller could be the odd man out if Chara doesn’t play. Miller, whose skill set makes him a potential power play specialist, did not practice on the power play and was paired with Chara in practice. The lines in Wednesday’s practice were as follows:
The power play units looked as such:
The Bruins roster currently stands at 23 players, not counting Chara. If the B’s are to activate him, they would need to send someone down. The Bruins roster, as announced by the NHL Wednesday, is as follows:
Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Brett Connolly, Loui Eriksson, Jonas Gustafsson, Jimmy Hayes, Matt Irwin, Chris Kelly, Joonas Kemppainen, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Tuukka Rask, Zac Rinaldo, Ryan Spooner, Maxime Talbot, Zach Trotman.
Check out the latest Bruins Podcast, a 6-Pack of questions to preview the season, with DJ Bean and Ken Laird:
|Zdeno Chara takes light contact, still not taking slap shots||10.06.15 at 1:18 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara is not quite his normal self, and it showed during his first practice back with the Bruins on Tuesday.
Typically, when it isn’t Chara’s turn in 3-on-3 battle drills, the captain spends his breathers taking slap shots the length of the ice. On Tuesday, Chara took light contact in the drills and instead spent his breaks stickhandling and flinging the occasional wrist shot. It was progress as Chara continued to work his way back from an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, but it was a sign that he remains a work in progress.
“His first day, it would be normal that it was light contact,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “He got into traffic, he got into different things, but he wasn’t going to be out there throwing his weight around. That’s his first day, when he’s told to be that way. The last thing we need right now is a setback.”
The Bruins will practice again Wednesday in their final tuneup before Thursday night’s season-opener against the Jets. Chara, who skated on a pairing with Colin Miller in Tuesday’s practice, would not discuss his chances of playing Thursday, instead taking a Belichickian approach.
“I’m not looking at Thursday. I’m looking at tomorrow,” Chara said. “It’s day-to-day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s practice. My goal is to be better than I was today.”
If Chara were unable to play early in the season, the Bruins would be looking at Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the team’s first pair, something that could be helped by the fact that Boston has last change at home, but it would be far from ideal. Then again, if Chara rushes back and gets hurt again, having Boston’s potentially shaky defense go a long time without his services would be much worse.
“We need everybody. It’s not just one guy,” Chara said. “Obviously, I’m going to do whatever I can to be out there and playing, but I think that right now, at this point of the season when we have so many guys available, it’s a big plus that you have so many varieties and options that you can use.”
Chara remains on injured reserve, which is retroactive to the date he was injured. The Bruins can take him off and play him at any point, but keeping him on IR allows the team to carry the group it has. Including Max Talbot and not counting Jeremy Smith, Boston’s roster is currently at the maximum of 23 players. The B’s could send Talbot to Providence once they activate Chara.
The Bruins lines in practice Tuesday were as follows:
|Video: Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) still skating, not taking contact||10.04.15 at 1:41 pm ET|
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
The intrigue as Zdeno Chara stepped onto the ice midway through the Bruins’ practice Sunday was short-lived. Though Chara skated lightly on one end of the ice while the B’s worked on 2-on-2 battle drills on the other, Chara was forced to the bench when the team needed the full sheet of ice after about five minutes.
His work would resume later in the day, however, as the 38-year-old defenseman returned to the ice to skate with assistant coach Doug Houda for over 40 minutes following the Bruins’ practice. Chara, who was limited to just three shifts this preseason due to an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, could be a close call for Thursday’s season-opener given that he still has not taken contact and does not yet appear able to take slap shots. While the latter wouldn’t necessarily stop him from playing, he would likely need to participate in some battle drills after 10 days without contact.
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
Though it’s worth noting that the Bruins are off on Monday, Claude Julien said that Chara is close to being able to fully participate in practice.
“In his situation, we said day-to-day because his injury was not one that we could say ‘it’s going to be a week,’ which it’s been right now,” Julien said following Sunday’s practice. “We didn’t know, so you can’t go out there and say he’s out for a week and then all of a sudden, three day’s later, he’s in.
“So he’s still day-to-day. I think he’s inching closer and I think he’s getting very close to practicing with our team. Because it’s day-to-day, I don’t know if he’s going to be in tomorrow, the day after, whatever. We’re hoping that’s the case. It’s looking like it’s heading in that direction, but there’s no guarantees.
“So we don’t know. He’s still day-to-day and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible, but he’s skating, he’s feeling better every day. That’s the positive thing about Zdeno’s situation.”
If Chara is unable to play Thursday against the Jets, Adam McQuaid will be the only top-four defenseman from opening night last season to play in this season’s opener, as Dougie Hamilton is in Calgary and Dennis Seidenberg remains out as he recovers from back surgery.
|Max Talbot, Jonas Gustavsson won’t travel for preseason finale||10.02.15 at 11:31 am ET|
The Bruins will play their preseason finale Friday when they face the Capitals at the Verizon Center, but they’ll be leaving a pair of players behind.
Forward Max Talbot and backup goalie candidate Jonas Gustavsson will hang back for Friday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that neither move is an indication of either player’s status with the team. Tuukka Rask will get the start, with Jeremy Smith backing him up.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
All seven of the Bruins’ healthy defensemen — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller — are expected to make the trip. Zdeno Chara did not practice with the B’s Friday, though he did skate again prior to the practice.
|Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) won’t play Bruins preseason finale||10.01.15 at 10:37 am ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara skated by himself again prior to Thursday’s practice as he continues to rehab an upper-body injury injury suffered in last Thursday’s preseason game against the Rangers. He did not practice afterwards and will not play in Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals.
Chara was on the ice for at least 15 minutes, working with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. He worked mostly on retrieving pucks, catching passes and stick handling. It does not appear Chara is ready to shoot the puck, as he abstained from shooting aside from an occasional lazy wrist shot.
Asked at Thursday’s media day availability whether he could shoot yet, Chara would only reply, “I skated today.”
The 38-year-old was adamant that his current injury is not related to any previous injuries. He lamented the timing of it and expressed his desire to return quickly.
“It’s not just the games; I hate missing practices, I hate missing skating with the guys,” Chara said. “It’s everything about it that you don’t want to do on your own. It’s a team sport. You have 20-plus guys involved, so I hate not being with them. At the same time, I know that’s the process that you have to go through. I understand the day-to-day routing for a guy who is obviously on the sideline. Hopefully I can be out there soon.”
Asked whether Chara would be available for next Thursday’s season-opener, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he is “hopeful” that Chara will play.
“He’s made a nice progression here in the last little while,” Don Sweeney. “Injuries have their own timetable. You can put a range on it, but the player himself and where he feels today, tomorrow and where we go forward. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not hopeful that [he returns soon]. Clearly I am, but he’s made good progress and we’ll continue to allow the medical and the healing piece to go forward.”
Also missing from Thursday’s skate were Alexander Khokhlachev, Anton Blidh and the players recalled for Wednesday’s game (Chris Breen, Brandon DeFazio and Ben Sexton. Sweeney said after the practice that the team has made more cuts, but did not specify which players were released from camp.
The lines and pairings were as follows:
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Jonas Gustavsson
|Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) skates by himself again, won’t play Wednesday||09.29.15 at 11:51 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara skated by himself prior to Tuesday’s practice, marking the second straight day the B’s captain has taken the ice since suffering an upper-body injury last week.
Chara did not stay out for Boston’s practice. Claude Julien said following the practice that Chara will not play Wednesday night against the Rangers, though the 38-year-old defenseman could soon start practicing. The B’s are not ruling out the possibility of Chara potentially playing in Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals.
Julien also revealed Jonas Gustavsson will play the entire game Wednesday as the team continues to figure out its potential backup goalie situation. The only goaltenders left on Boston’s roster are Gustavsson (still on a professional tryout), Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Smith.
Also absent from Tuesday’s practice were defenseman Linus Arnesson and forwards Frank Vatrano and Austin Czarnik. It’s possible that the Bruins may have made cuts Tuesday morning.
David Krejci was back with the bulk of his teammates after skating in Monday’s smaller session. He skated with Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak, while Brett Connolly was back on his line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes after sitting for Monday’s preseason game.
The following players took the ice for Tuesday’s practice:
Forwards: Connolly, Ferlin, Randell, Kemppainen, Blidh, Talbot, Hayes, Marchand, Spooner, Beleskey, Rinaldo, Bergeron, Khokhlachev, Eriksson, Kelly, Pastrnak, Krejci, Kelly
Defense: Kevan Miller, Irwin, Trotman, Krug, Colin Miller, Morrow, McQuaid, Cross
Goalies: Rask, Gustavsson, Smith
|Zdeno Chara progressing, skates prior to Bruins practice||09.28.15 at 9:57 am ET|
Chara, who left Thursday night’s preseason game with an upper-body injury after three shifts, was given the weekend off by the Bruins. Claude Julien said Saturday that the team’s plan was to re-evaluate him on Monday. According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Chara skated for over half an hour.
Julien said that Chara will not play in Monday night’s preseason game against the Red Wings, but that the team is encouraged by his progress.
“We’ve kept it day-to-day because he’s progressing,” Julien said. “Obviously [he won’t play] tonight. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes here. Like anything else, we’re going to be more cautious than anything.”
The fact that Chara is skating now is reason to believe his injury isn’t serious to keep him out of regular-season action, though his status will obviously be monitored going forward.