|Bruins prepared to play without Zdeno Chara, however long that may be||12.12.11 at 7:54 pm ET|
The Bruins are going to be without Zdeno Chara — reportedly for at least a week — but the B’s captain isn’t ready to count himself out for even Wednesday’s game against the Senators.
“There is no time frame when I’m going to be back, but most likely I won’t be playing tomorrow,” Chara said Monday at Ristuccia Arena. “That’s as far as I can tell you right now, because honestly it’s at a stage where we can’t really talk about any further than 24 hours ahead.”
Chara injured his left leg in a collision with Antoine Vermette Saturday night in Columbus. The Boston Globe reported Sunday that he would miss at least this week, and could potentially held out until after Christmas.
The 6-foot-9 defenseman has not missed more than five games in a season since signing with the Bruins prior to the 2006-07 season. With that being said, he understands that injuries do occur, and that he hopes to return as quickly as he can.
“It’s just the nature of this sport. In any sport, you do get hurt. Injuries do happen, and there are some things as players that you can’t control,” he said. “They do really happen. As a player, really your job is to try to do your best with the treatments and rehab to get yourself back and on the ice with the team as fast as possible. That’s what I’m trying to do right now, but also at the same time, you don’t want to rush it. You want to be smart about it.”
With Chara out, the Bruins practiced Monday without drastically shaking up their defensive pairings. Claude Julien simply subbed in Steven Kampfer for Chara on his pairing with Johnny Boychuk and left the Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo and Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid pairings alone.
It will be Kampfer’s first NHL game since Nov. 17, though he played two games for Providence when the B’s sent he and Jordan Caron for some game action earlier this month.
Assuming Chara does indeed miss the team’s games this week, Kampfer, who played in three straight games last month, will get the opportunity to do so again here. For a seventh defenseman, playing time and opportunities in the lineup may come sporadically, but a week’s worth of game action will give him time to get settled in and shake off any rust.
“I think you can always get a rhythm, even if you’re not playing,” Kampfer said. “You get in for one game, you’re practicing, you’re playing well and you’ve got the guys around you that are keeping you in a rhythm, so it’s definitely easier when you’ve got a team playing as well as we are.”
With Chara out, Seidenberg, who is averaging 24:12 of ice time per game (second only to Chara’s 24:28), could see an increased work load. He wouldn’t complain if that were the case, though the B’s probably don’t want to tire their second best defenseman.
“It’s up to the coaches,” Seidenberg. “We’ve been playing pretty even minutes these last few games. Guys have been playing pretty great as a group, and no matter who’s on the ice, [Doug Houda] feels comfortable putting them out there.”
With all the hoopla surrounding Chara’s injury, it’s clear that the best news is that it isn’t serious enough to keep him out for significant time. The B’s have good depth defensively, but removing arguably the best blueliner will certainly create a challenge for the B’s. It’s a challenge the other defensemen think they can handle.
“I think that some of the other forwards on the other teams will probably be in better moods, but that’s probably the biggest change,” Ference said. “He’s a big presence. Guys don’t like playing against him. He’s obviously a huge matchup against other teams’ top lines. That’s something that there’s quite a few of us back there that have played against top lines and top two lines in the league. It’s not like anybody’s getting outside of their comfort zone.”
The Bruins, already without defenseman Zdeno Chara for Tuesday’s game against the Kings, might need to make a call to Providence in order to ice 12 forwards.
Center Gregory Campbell, who did not practice Monday for the Bruins, is in a walking boot and is considered questionable for Tuesday’s game with an injury suffered when he was hit in the foot with a shot.
While Campbell may be out for the B’s, the team did see the return of Daniel Paille to the ice. Paille, who suffered a concussion Thursday, said he has not been feeling symptoms and that he hopes to get back in the lineup this week. Bruins coach Claude Julien considers Paille day-to-day.
If both players are unable to go, the B’s would need to call up a player from Providence in order to ice four full lines.
“I think that’s something we’re probably going to look at,” Julien said, “and either later today or tomorrow morning, if need be, we’ll be calling somebody up.”
Julien said he doesn’t know whether Campbell has had x-rays taken of the foot, but that the center has been walking with a limp.
Said Julien: “He’s in a walking boot limping, and he’s had treatments here this morning, so I don’t know exactly what the final verdict is more than that he told me he was questionable.”
Paille said that he was feeling symptom-free and good enough to get back in the game Thursday, but that the team kept him out as a precaution. Additionally he still has visible scars on his face from the Steve Staios shot that hit him in the face last month, and he’s also fighting a cold. It’s safe to say Paille’s had better luck in the past, but he isn’t complaining. His main focus is getting back in the lineup, and after taking limited contact Monday (his first time back on the ice since being hit by Krys Barch), he hopes that time will come this week. He’ll need to pass a neuropsych evaluation before he can do that.
“Obviously, if I can [play Tuesday], I will, but obviously at this point I haven’t discussed it with Claude or Peter [Chiarelli],” Paille said, adding that he’d “like to” be back for at least one of this week’s three games.
If both Paille and Campbell are unable to go Tuesday, one option for the Bruins might be forward Zach Hamill, who has experience at both wing and center and picked up a point in a two-game stint with Boston this season. Hamill got off to a hot start in Providence this season, but has just one point, a goal, over his last nine games.
WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara wasn’t the only one to miss Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
Fourth-line center Gregory Campbell was also absent for the B’s as they hit the ice to prepare for games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Kings and Senators, respectively. It could simply be a maintenance day for Campbell.
The good news the Bruins received on the injury front was that Daniel Paille was back on the ice and skating with the Merlot Line. Paille suffered a concussion Thursday on a hit from Krys Barch and did not play Saturday against the Blue Jackets. With Paille back, each line had three players for a total of 12 forwards Monday. Jordan Caron remains on the Merlot Line.
Here were the defensive pairings with Chara out with a leg injury:
Dennis Seidenberg – Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid
Steven Kampfer – Johnny Boychuk
|What are the Bruins without Zdeno Chara?||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.
|Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins||12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET|
It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.
The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.
The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.
Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven’t faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game.”
Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.
Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?
“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”
With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.
“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.
There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.
|Points ain’t nothing but a number for Zdeno Chara||12.03.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
Statistically speaking, Zdeno Chara is having the best season of his career. After not registering a point in the season’s first six games, the massive defenseman with the league’s hardest shot has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, with only Tyler Seguin registering more points for the B’s since Oct. 20.
That leaves Chara on pace for a career-high 64 points (his current career-best is 51, which he registered in 2007-08). Not all of Chara’s points have been blasts from the point, or even teammates burying rebounds of blasts from the point. Chara was in on the rush Wednesday when David Krejci fed him to set up a wrist shot from right before the hash mark for what became his fifth goal of the year.
It’s been a big year offensively for Chara, but he knows that a defenseman’s worth is not always measured by stats. Even so, the 6-foot-9 blueliner is happy to be producing at a pace he’s never seen before.
“My first priority is to play well defensively. My job is obviously to shut down top lines every game, so that’s the No. 1 job to me,” he said after Saturday’s morning skate. “Anything above that is a plus. Any time I can help the team offensively and contribute on the other side of the ice, it’s a big plus.”
Seven of Chara’s points (3 G, 4 A) have come on the power play, and he leads the team in points on the man advantage. With the power play performing better than it was down the stretch last year and Chara producing more, the B’s have been able to give penalty killers a much harder time than they were when they would go games at a time without scoring on the man advantage.
“I think it’s about doing everything,” Claude Julien said Saturday. “I mean, in order for [Chara] to get some shots you got to have some versatility on your power play and some of the opportunities have to come from different places. Tyler on the half wall has done a great job of course there, [Milan Lucic] in front of the net and other guys. Again, we’ve moved some guys around. [Patrice] Bergeron finds the right people to pass to, and with Zdeno where he is right now, it allows him to take a shot whenever he’s open and if they pay too much attention to him, then there’s something else open.”
Chara is currently a plus-15 as well, meaning that while he may get beaten occasionally (as he was when Phil Kessel flew by him in the neutral zone Wednesday to set up a 2-on-1 and a Toronto goal), he still does what he believes to be his No. 1 job: playing against top lines and seeing to it that no goals are scored unless they’re from the B’s. He’s on pace for a plus-53 rating, which would surpass last season’s career-best plus-33. Between the points and the strong rating (only Seguin and Chris Kelly have better ratings on the B’s at plus-19 and plus-16, respectively), there’s been very little not to like about the big man’s game this season.
“You also want to be an all-around defenseman,” Chara said of the offensive production being a part of his game. “That’s what it takes.”
|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Headed to shootout||11.23.11 at 7:02 pm ET|
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