WILMINGTON, Mass. – Nobody guaranteed Zdeno Chara would be in the lineup on Monday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the 6-foot-9 D-man again looked good at practice on Sunday morning at Ristuccia Arena.
After the team skate, coach Claude Julien said his captain was “questionable” for Monday’s matinee against the Bolts. Chara once again practiced with the team on Sunday and looked to have no limitations while taking part in battle drills and practicing breakouts. Chara also took a full turn during PP practice at the end of Sunday's session, which would also point toward an imminent return.
The decision to waive Matt Irwin also seems to indicate the Bruins are in the midst of clearing out a roster spot to take the 38-year-old Chara off of injured reserve in time for a big game against Tampa Bay.
“I would say it’s questionable there [on Chara],” said Julien. “We haven’t made that decision yet. I think it’s going to be done at some point with the medical staff. We’ll see if it warrants a go or not. If it doesn’t then we’ll give him a few more days. That decision will probably be made [on Monday].”
The Bruins' head coach was asked if it’s a pain tolerance issue with Chara, who played just three preseason shifts and missed the season’s first two regular season games with an upper body injury.
“It’s about making sure the [re-injury] risk [isn’t there],” said Julien. “He’s very tolerant when it comes to pain. Zee is pretty tough there. It’s just if he’s good to go, and what’s the risk factor.”
The Bruins could surely use Chara back with Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid logging top pair minutes in the first two games and the B’s defensemen corps continuing to make damaging miscues that are leading to goals in their own end. Chara could certainly help in many of those areas, but the Bruins also have to be fully aware at this point that they still have some serious blue line problems even when their big No. 1 guy returns.