Bruins

Healing Chara 'believes' he'll be ready for start of regular season

Healing Chara 'believes' he'll be ready for start of regular season

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara made it through both sessions of the opening on-ice practice at Bruins training camp with his surgically repaired elbow feeling good, and that further heightened the Bruins captain’s optimism that he’ll be ready for opening night.

The 42-year-old captain is coming off summer elbow surgery and the natural healing process for his fractured jaw, and both injuries kept Chara from his legendary offseason workout routine until the middle of July. It all means that the 6-foot-9 defenseman probably feels a little behind his normal standard for the start of NHL training camp, but Chara said he’s not feeling any limitations now that the B’s have hit the ice.

“It was good. We had a good two sessions. I thought the energy was really good,” said Chara. “Basically I’m a part of all the drills. I don’t think I’ll be playing in the first few [exhibition] games. That’s probably something we have to talk about what’s going to be after. But with the less [preseason] games than in recent years, I think most of the guys that played all the way to the Final won’t see many of those games. But it’s something the coaching staff and management has to decide.

“I believe [I’ll be ready for the regular season]. Right now it feels pretty good. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the next day, and my goal is to keep getting stronger and feeling better.”

It's true that Chara will probably sit out the first few exhibition games so as not to rush himself back into game action. But that will probably be true of many of the B’s veteran core group that played until the middle of June this past season and packed 24 playoff games on to the end of a long, strenuous regular season schedule.

At one point just a week ago it seemed that there might be some question as to Chara’s readiness for the regular season, and that was a concern on top of two unsigned RFA defenseman (Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo) and two other D-men (John Moore, Kevan Miller) that aren’t going to be ready to start the regular season due to injuries.

But at least Chara will be there to start the year, and that leaves one big question already answered ahead of Boston’s season opener. Here are the forward combos and defense pairs from the first day of training camp with the Bruins halved into two groups:

 

Group A

Bjork-Coyle-Ritchie

Marchand-Studnicka-Senyshyn

Carey-Shen-Pastrnak

Cehlarik-Steen-Lantosi/Koppanen

 

Krug-Kampfer

Vaakanainen-Petrovic

Zboril/Breen-Zech

 

Rask, Keyser, Vladar

 

Group B

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Blidh-Kuraly-Backes

Fitzgerald-Gaunce-Heinen

Lauko-Lindholm-Wagner

Asselin

 

Chara-Andersson

Grzelcyk-Didier

Lauzon/Sherman-Clifton

 

Halak, Lagace

Krug looking for "clarity" on his contract>>>

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Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

BRIGHTON – The Bruins are getting a little banged up as they now get a little deeper into the regular season.

Bruins right winger Karson Kuhlman was missing from Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena after getting hit in the leg with a Jake DeBrusk shot during Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kuhlman was limited to 9:19 of ice time in the overtime game and has gone scoreless in the first nine games of the season while playing mostly a top-6 role for the Black and Gold.

Likewise, David Krejci was missing from Monday’s practice and will again be out Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs that will make his third consecutive game missed since suffering an upper-body injury in last week’s win over Anaheim.

Both Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm were wearing no-contact jerseys in Monday’s practice as well, and the Bruins had the bare minimum 12 forwards to practice with after a day off the ice completely on Sunday.

“Kuhlman is day-to-day and we’ll see how he responds [on Tuesday]. So that we’ll determine in the morning,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Lindholm looks good to go. Nordstrom probably not as far along as [Lindholm] as far as being good to go, but that’s a decision we’ll make tomorrow. Krejci won’t play [on Tuesday] and we’ll see how it works out for later in the week.”

Both Krejci and Nordstrom are out for the Leafs game and it looks like Lindholm is going to be able to play, so the health of Kuhlman is the one unknown headed into the B’s next game.

The good news for the Bruins is that they continue to stay healthy on the back end, and perhaps the injuries upfront will force the B’s to finally call up Anders Bjork from Providence as a reinforcement after a hot start for the P-Bruins. Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Monday’s practice ahead of the Tuesday night rematch between the Bruins and Leafs this time at TD Garden:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Ritchie

Heinen-Lindholm-Backes

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

 

Rask

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Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Lost in the big divisional games over the last few days for the Bruins against the Lightning and Maple Leafs was a small moment toward the end of Thursday’s shootout loss to the Bolts that could have meant an extra point for the B’s.

During the closing seconds of overtime, the Lightning had the Bruins scrambling in their own end and Brayden Point collected the puck along the sideboards after already putting up a couple of points in the game. Brad Marchand then opted to put Point in a headlock and lock down any chances of the Lightning ending the game ahead of the shootout with only a couple of seconds remaining in OT.

There was no penalty, and even if there had been there was really no downside to doing it since Marchand would have been free and clear to take part in the shootout, as he did, even if a minor penalty had been called on him. It was a smart hockey play from a smart hockey player that’s always looking for an edge and doesn’t mind going the outside-the-box route that includes throwing a headlock on the occasional opponent.

Obviously it didn’t work out as the Bruins ended up losing 4-3 to the Bolts in the shootout, but interestingly enough even Point was giving the habitually line-stepping Marchand credit for “a great play” after it was all over.

“I’m going for the puck, really it’s a great play,” said Point of Marchand, who has four goals and 12 points in eight games this season to go along with the one headlock. “There’s not much time, he breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that, so really it’s a good play.”

With a pair of points earned in the last couple of games, the Bruins have a few more big games this week against the Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It remains to be seen if No. 63 has any more “really good plays” in his bag of tricks after the savvy, on-brand headlock from Marchand during last week’s tangle with Tampa.

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