Bruins lose more than a game: Chara out with undisclosed injury

Bruins lose more than a game: Chara out with undisclosed injury

BOSTON -- It wouldn’t be out of line for the Boston Bruins to hope for a bit of a Thanksgiving miracle when it comes to the health of team captain Zdeno Chara.

The 39-year-old defenseman exited Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden after his first shift of the second period, and never returned to a game where the Bruins defense fell apart without him while allowing three goals in the middle period. Chara had absorbed a hit in the corner from Blues forward Jaden Schwartz during his final shift of the game, but he finished off the full shift before leaving the bench area for the Bruins dressing room right afterward.

So it was unclear if Chara’s injury related to the Schwartz hit in the corner, or perhaps there was a pre-existing reason.

The most abundantly clear development in Chara leaving the game: the Bruins were rattled for the rest of the second period, and really don’t have anybody that can step up and fill in for the 6-foot-9 defensive stopper. Instead 19-year-old rookie Brandon Carlo was on the ice for both the game-tying and go-ahead goals for St. Louis in the second period, and Torey Krug was a minus-3 while leading all Bruins with 24:44 of ice time in the loss.

“I just think that in the second period, with five D’s, we got caught in our own end at times for long periods of time, and then we had some guys that were out there tired, and some of those guys were obviously D’s,” said Claude Julien. “So it cost us a few goals there, and I think that’s where there was a big difference in the game, because overall I thought our first period was good. I thought our third period we did a lot of good things, and again, it’s probably you wish you had better finish on those opportunities. So I’m not going to criticize the effort. I think overall, we competed against a pretty good hockey club, but at the end of the day, we needed to find that extra goal or those extra couple of goals.

“Some of those guys on the back end, I thought, did a great job of being challenged at playing more. Joe Morrow was one of those guys, and Brandon Carlo had to step up there, and that’s the first time he’s played without his partner. It just goes to show how important Zee [Zdeno Chara] is to our hockey club, and to Brandon.”

The bad news is that Chara doesn’t come out of games unless something significant is bothering him, so his high threshold for pain has been crossed in a pretty major way. But Chara has also shown a penchant for healing quickly from injuries as well, and the Bruins have to hope that is again the case with zero viable options at No. 1 defenseman without him.

“We’ve got to be smarter when we’re down a man like that, especially a big part of the team like [Chara] is,” said David Backes. “Hopefully it’s very temporary and he’ll be back in short order, but if not, we’ve got to have different guys pick up the slack and move forward. He’s obviously an awesome player, but we’re going to have injuries to guys and we need to spread the wealth and all shoulder a little bit more load, and find ways to win games.”

That’s all well and good in theory, but Chara is the most irreplaceable player on Boston’s roster outside of goaltender Tuukka Rask, and he was off to a strong start (one goal, six points and a plus-12 rating in 18 games) as he approaches 40 years old this season. 

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

USA TODAY Sports Photos

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

File photo

Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

A post shared by Boston Bruins (@nhlbruins) on