|5 things we learned as Maple Leafs made Bruins miss Zdeno Chara||11.12.14 at 10:32 pm ET|
TORONTO – The first eight games of the Zdeno Chara-less schedule looked like a group of largely winnable contests before they would have to face the Canadiens.
For as well as the Bruins survived that stretch, they ended it in disastrous fashion.
For all the bad moments have had this season — and they’ve had plenty between their early-season struggles and the injuries they’ve suffered – they hadn’t really gotten walloped by anyone, let alone a Maple Leafs opponent they had handled easily without Chara once already.
The Bruins’ 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs (here is the box score) provided a reminder for anyone who had forgotten that, though Boston hasn’t played many good teams of late, things are a lot harder without No. 33 on the ice. Phil Kessel, a player who is usually silent against his former team because of Chara, enjoyed a two-goal night against Boston’s mortal blue line.
Tuukka Rask was yanked after giving up three goals early in the second period and four on the night. Even what looked like a well-targeted Bruins goal by Reilly Smith was negated in the second period by Carl Soderberg being in the crease.
Of course, it wasn’t just about Chara, Rask or Boston’s defense. This was one of those once-in-a-season colossal stinkers that a team can only hope will end up being their worst loss of the season with few other candidates.
Here are four other things we learned Wednesday night:
|Zdeno Chara noncommittal on lack of surgery||11.04.14 at 12:50 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since suffering a torn PCL on Oct. 23.
Prior to the team’s morning skate, Chara stood in the hall at TD Garden with a brace on his leg as he stickhandled and shot pucks against the wall. He is in the second week of what is expected to be a 4-6 week recovery.
The day after the injury, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said that surgery was not expected to be required for Chara. Asked Tuesday if he was happy to not need surgery, Chara wasn’t as definitive.
“Well, we’ll see,” Chara said. “It’s always nice to avoid surgery. We’ll see how it goes, but that was obviously good news.”
When asked about a timeline for his recovery, Chara was noncommittal.
Said Chara: “I wish I could tell you guys exactly when I’m going to return but at this point it’s such a slow process, who knows where it’s going?”
The injury was suffered in the first period of the team’s loss to the Islanders on a hit to New York captain John Tavares. Following the hit, Chara stayed on the ice during a TV timeout and finished his shift upon the game resuming. He left the bench but said he had not felt anything on his hit on Tavares.
“No, nothing,” Chara said. “Just on the shift after it I felt some discomfort, but no pain or anything like that. I just went into the locker room to just check on things, but obviously I found out there was more to it.”
Since losing the game in which he was injured, the Bruins are 3-1-0 without Chara. The team has also lost Torey Krug to a broken finger in that time, and Kevan Miller was already out with a dislocated shoulder. The team has also pulled Matt Bartkowski from the lineup amidst early season struggles, resulting in Joe Morrow, David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman making up half of Boston’s back end.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘I believe [Bruins] will find a way’||10.30.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB in advance of Thursday night’s Bruins game with the Sabres and to talk about the injuries the Bruins have been forced to deal with. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins have lost two of their last three games, including two, one-goal games at home — the latest a 4-3 loss to the Wild where they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. McGuire stressed even if the Bruins were to lose to Buffalo Thursday night, it would not be a time to panic.
“It’s an 82-game schedule,” McGuire said. “This isn’t football, it’s not every week being a Super Bowl game. You have to understand there are ebbs and flows in every season and there’s huge peaks and gigantic valleys that you have to climb out of. This reminds me so much of what Detroit went through last year without [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk — they had so many key injuries. Jimmy Howard was not doing well due to injury and illness. Everyone said they wouldn’t make the playoffs – 22 years in a row they made it, 23 won’t happen — but, guess what? They found a way.
“I believe this Boston Bruins team will find a way and a lot of those young players are getting an opportunity to play now, they are going to be the beneficiaries in this.”
Added McGuire: “I’m bullish on the Bruins, I really am. There’s no substitute for grit and there’s no substitute for maturity and this is a mature leadership kind of team that has a tremendous amount of grit.”
The Bruins have had a number of injuries to their defensive group, including Zdeno Chara (ligament tear in knee), Torey Krug (broken finger), Kevan Miller (upper-body) on top of the trade of Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders before the season. McGuire says this is a time for three other Bruins defensemen to step up, as well as an important stretch for assistant coach Doug Houda.
“The biggest thing is – limited ice time — this is where Doug Houda, who is not a real big-name on the Bruins, but he’s the assistant coach that changes the defense, he’s got to really pay attention to matchups,” said McGuire. “This is where [Dennis] Seidenberg has to play like he played in Toronto the other night — almost 26 minutes, he was really good. Dougie Hamilton obviously was fantastic in that game. He’s going to have to be good. This is where you need Adam McQuaid to be a little bit more stable and better with the puck. Those three guys are going to have to be a lot better, especially when you consider not having Chara, Krug and the trading of Boychuk.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Dougie Hamilton has injury scare a day after Bruins lose Zdeno Chara for month||10.24.14 at 1:19 pm ET|
The Bruins can’t afford to lose another top defensemen ‘ they’ve really only got two left ‘ so things looked pretty scary in Friday’s practice when Dougie Hamilton appeared to be in serious pain after getting hit in the right hand with a shot.
After getting hit, Hamilton took his glove off and grimaced for a few minutes as he repeatedly shook his hand. He resumed drills, but shook his hand after each turn and repeatedly went to the bench to get checked on by a trainer.
Following the practice, Hamilton said that his hand was OK, but there was a big red mark where the puck had clearly hit him. The fact that he finished practice is a good sign that the B’s survived the scare.
The pairings in practice were as follows:
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman
|Peter Chiarelli says Zdeno Chara (torn PCL) doesn’t need surgery, Bruins recall Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow||at 11:42 am ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday morning that Zdeno Chara‘s injury is a torn posterior cruciate ligament that will keep him out for four to six weeks. Chiarelli said that surgery for Chara is not a likely option.
The Bruins also recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from Providence Friday. Chiarelli said that the multiple defensemen callup was partially due to “a couple of little things” players are battling, but that he thinks “it will be OK.”
Chiarelli hinted that he will not look to the trade market for a replacement for Chara, responding to such a question with “four to six weeks, we’ll have him back.”
The B’s GM also said that Chara could return before the four-week mark, and that the four-to-six week window was a conservative estimate. He confirmed that the injury was suffered when Chara hit Islanders captain John Tavares in the first period of Thursday’s game.
The Bruins’ defensive pairings in Friday’s practice were as follows:
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.
The Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL last season. They lost Chris Kelly to a broken leg last December and a back injury just before the playoffs. The 2013 team made the Stanley Cup finals despite the loss of Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Just last week, Kevan Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight in Buffalo and has been lost indefinitely.
But when Islanders forward John Tavares’ right knee collided with Chara’s left knee Thursday night in the B’s 3-2 loss, there was the sense that Boston’s captain could be out a while early on in a season when the Bruins are struggling to find their identity.
That sense was apparent when talking to Bruins players in the dressing room afterward.
“He’s an irreplaceable player, so obviously him not being out there, everyone notices, us and them,” Kelly said.
But Kelly insisted that Boston’s flat second period Thursday had nothing to do with Boston getting outscored 2-0 and looking listless on the ice.
“I don’t think so. They were ready right from the opening faceoff and we weren’t,” Kelly said. “Like I said, he’s an irreplaceable player. He plays every situation for us and he’s our leader. We’re going to need to fill that void collectively as a group not just one guy is going to be able to do that.
“I though we played desperate, but they were up 3-1. They may have set back a little bit and we pushed the pace. Yeah, the third period was better but like I said, 20 minutes isn’t good enough to win hockey games.”
|Report: Zdeno Chara out at least 4-6 weeks with left knee injury||10.23.14 at 11:25 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara left Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Islanders in the first period did not return. Following the game, Claude Julien gave no update on Chara’s status, but former Bruin and current TSN analyst Aaron Ward reported that Chara will be out for at least 4-6 weeks with a left knee injury.
Chara played only five shifts, the last of which lasted 1:06. Chara did not appear to be hurt at any point during the shift, though he did land a big open-ice hit on Islanders captain John Tavares. After a TV timeout, Chara stayed on the ice to finish his shift.
Earlier in the game, Chara saw a Josh Bailey pass beat both himself and Dougie Hamilton on its way to Frans Nielsen, who backhanded the puck into the net. The goal marked the fourth time this season that Chara and Patrice Bergeron have been on the ice for a five-on-five goal against.
We’ll have more on Chara’s status as it becomes available.