Bruins

Chara (undisclosed) expected to be ready to play in Stanley Cup Final

Chara (undisclosed) expected to be ready to play in Stanley Cup Final

RALEIGH, NC – Zdeno Chara was a surprise scratch from Thursday night’s Game 4 lineup with an injury that has him day-to-day, but that didn’t stop the 6-foot-9 defenseman from taking the ice with his teammates once they’d wrapped up the Eastern Conference Final series.

The Bruins won without their shutdown D-man in a 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena to close them out in a sweep, but Chara dressed up in full uniform to be with his teammates on the ice for the handshake line prior to accepting the Prince of Wales Trophy for winning the East. It was a bit odd that the 42-year-old Chara didn’t play given that he was participating in practice and even spoke to the media at the podium on the Wednesday off-day in between games.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Chara isn’t expected to miss any time at the start of the Stanley Cup Final, and should get at least a week to rest his bumps and bruised prior to that best-of-seven series getting going.

“I believe he’ll be ready to go next round,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked about Chara’s undisclosed injury.

The belief here is that whatever injury Chara is suffering from wasn’t all that serious, and that the 42-year-old might have played if the Bruins weren’t up 3-0 against a Carolina team that had have proven to be inferior to them. Without him Torey Krug stepped up to play 27 minutes of ice time, Brandon Carlo topped 23 minutes of ice and Charlie McAvoy logged 22 plus minutes while completely shutting down Carolina’s attack.  

HAGGERTY: Talking points from Bruins' 4-0 win over 'Canes>>>

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Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruce Cassidy is obviously pleased that the Bruins have jumped out to a 5-1-0 start this season, but the B’s head coach also knows the team is playing with fire when it comes to their lackluster second periods.

Sure, the Bruins are outscoring opponents by a 4-3 margin in second periods this season, so it doesn’t appear to be a big deal statistically. But the B’s have also scored first in five of their six games thus far this season, and that plays into a bit of the middle 20-minute malaise that has been one of Boston’s weak spots in an otherwise encouraging start to the season.

Cassidy went so far as to call the second period effort “exceptionally poor” in Monday’s win over the Ducks as they were outshot 16-6, and admitted after Wednesday’s practice that they’ve been able to get away with the lollygagging as of late against less dangerous teams like the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. Certainly the superior play of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in the early going has saved them as well, but that isn’t going to be sustainable against a higher caliber of competition.

In fact that’s going to change with Atlantic Division rivals in the Lightning and the Maple Leafs on the docket over the next week.  

“We could probably fall behind [on the scoreboard] and then we’d see a better second [period]. I don’t want to go down that road if we can help it because we pride ourselves on starting on time. [It’s about] the details of the game and getting their attention,” said Cassidy. “This might happen [against Tampa Bay] or on Saturday. We may start seeing teams that aren’t as offensively challenged as the last few that we’ve had to let them off the hook.

“We might learn just because of the competition that we’re playing. I don’t think it’s anything that they’re not aware of. They lose their focus, they lose their details, the line changes are slower and the puck management is softer. Some of these things they kind of lose their way a little bit. Some of it is on us to get their attention, but some of it is on them that it’s part of their responsibility as well when they step on the ice. I’m not losing my mind over it, but I know it’s something that’s going to bite us in the ass at some point.”

Will the Bruins tighten up their second period issues, or will it be the fatal flaw that sinks them in some ultra-important games against Tampa Bay and Toronto over the next few days? We’ll soon find out as the real regular season begins to get going with Boston’s traditional rivals that can expose weaknesses that have been masked over the first few weeks of the regular season.

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David Krejci leaves Bruins practice early, hasn't been ruled out vs. Lightning

David Krejci leaves Bruins practice early, hasn't been ruled out vs. Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. — There’s still plenty of question whether David Krejci is going to play on Thursday night after he exited practice early on Wednesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

Krejci left Monday afternoon’s win over the Ducks in the second period with an upper body injury that limited him to just seven minutes on the ice, but he did appear at Wednesday’s practice cleared for contact while wearing a normal white practice sweater.

Krejci did leave halfway through the practice session, though, and it was Charlie Coyle centering Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie in a makeshift second line that could be what we see Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bruce Cassidy called things “day-to-day” with Krejci at this point, but didn’t rule him out from playing against Tampa.

“He’s nursing an upper body injury, so he skated half of practice. Tomorrow we’ll see how he is. We’ll rule him as day-to-day and I’m not going to rule him out [against the Lightning] and I won’t say he’s definitely in,” said Cassidy, who also added that defenseman Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) has begun skating on his own ahead of Bruins practice as well.

The 33-year-old Krejci already missed time at the beginning of the season with a lower body injury suffered during the preseason and will have already missed more games with injuries this season (two) than he did all of last year if he can’t suit up against the divisional rival Lightning. That’s a bit of a warning sign for a player in Krejci who’s had injury issues in his recent past and is an aging player coming off a heavy workload last season with the extra 24 games played during the postseason.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday’s Bruins practice:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Danton Heinen/David Backes Par Lindholm Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk/Connor Clifton Steven Kampfer

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask Jaroslav Halak

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