Bruins

Zdeno Chara starts elite club with 1,000th game as Bruins captain

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Zdeno Chara starts elite club with 1,000th game as Bruins captain

Zdeno Chara will join a select Bruins club when he suits up for his 1,000th regular season game as a member of the Boston Bruins on Monday night against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 42-year-old defenseman passed the gold standard 1,000 games played mark as an NHL player years ago, and actually earlier this season suited up in his 1,500th NHL regular season game while receiving a warm, respectful ovation from a Bell Centre crowd that has routinely booed him throughout his 20-plus year career.

He’ll become just the sixth Bruins player (joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Patrice Bergeron, Don Sweeney and Wayne Cashman) to register 1,000 games in a B’s uniform when he plays against the Flyers and continues his role as a shutdown defenseman he’s been filling for the last 13 seasons in Boston.

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“You’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to love what you do and accept there are going to be some ups and downs,” said Chara, when asked about his longevity. “There are going to be some great moments and there are going to be some things you have to overcome. That is sports and that is life.

"But you have to have the mindset that you love what you do, and you get up in the morning, put the pants on and come to work being happy with what you’re doing, and how you’re preparing. Then you do your best.”

Interestingly, though, he’ll also be starting a select club of one as the only player in Bruins franchise history who's logged 1,000 games as the captain guiding the Black and Gold as he’s done since signing in Boston prior to the 2006-07 season.

Ray Bourque would be the closest to him with 862 games as Bruins captain prior to being traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the end of his career, but the 1,000 games sets the future Hall of Fame defenseman apart in terms of his leadership and longevity while leading the team to three Stanley Cup Final appearances during his tenure.

“It’s definitely an amazing accomplishment. The other difference is that there haven’t been many guys that have played 1,000 games as the captain of an NHL organization. I think he’s the only one in the [Bruins] group, so it’s amazing what he’s accomplished,” said Bergeron, who has been by his side as alternate captain and a de facto co-captain of sorts for the last decade. “He just keeps racking up the milestones and the things that keep coming on lately.

“He’s obviously a special person and one that’s so committed and so competitive. I’m not surprised, you know, that he’s played for so long and that he’s been successful for so long. I’m really happy for him.”

Perhaps just as appropriate considering his legendary toughness and willingness to play through pain while logging 1.530 games and counting, Chara will be playing through discomfort as an ongoing issue with his jaw caused him to miss a game last week before he returned to the lineup Saturday night against the Islanders.

Krejci (upper body) out for Sunday afternoon game vs Penguins

Krejci (upper body) out for Sunday afternoon game vs Penguins

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins will be without playmaking center David Krejci again on Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins as he’s been ruled out for the second half of the home-and-home series against Pittsburgh. 

It’s believed to be a lower-back issue for Krejci, 33, something he’s battled the past few years. He also missed the B's win Thursday over Pittsburgh in Boston.

The hope is that Krejci will feel good enough to play in the Tuesday pre-All-Star break finale against the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of a 10-day break around the bye week and All-Star weekend, then again an extended rest period of more than two weeks for the veteran second-line center might not be the worst thing in the world either.

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“He’s not traveling. He didn’t skate today so he doesn’t have a chance to play [on Sunday],” coach Bruce Cassidy of Krejci, who has 11 goals and 32 points in 41 games this season, but will miss his ninth game of the season due to injuries on Sunday. “We’ll look at Tuesday if he’ll skate on Monday, but then it becomes an issue of are you better off just getting a whole break in there. If he can come in and skate [on Monday] then that would be a good measure for [his readiness for] Tuesday.”

Charlie Coyle will bump up in his place between Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork and Par Lindholm will enter the lineup as a third-line center with Krejci still injured. It should be the same exact lineup as the one that scored a convincing 4-1 win over the Penguins on Thursday night.

Ahead of practice on Saturday the Bruins also recalled 6-foot-5 goaltending prospect Dan Vladar and Max Lagace was sent back down to Providence after he stopped 24 of 26 shots in the P-Bruins' 2-1 loss to Bridgeport on Friday night.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Penguins based on Saturday practice at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Bjork

Heinen-Lindholm-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore


Halak

Kuhlman jumps back in and helps Bruins while 'keeping it simple'

Kuhlman jumps back in and helps Bruins while 'keeping it simple'

The Bruins immediately went the speed and skill route after removing Brett Ritchie from the roster with Karson Kuhlman notching a pair of assists in a big win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kuhlman finished with the two helpers and a plus-2 rating in just 9:56 of ice time in his first NHL appearance since he broke a bone in his leg back in mid-October. 

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It was obviously a promising start for Kuhlman in his second go-around with the Bruins this season and he immediately showed some chemistry with the second- and third-line forwards he was paired with throughout the 4-1 win on Thursday night. It’s now up to Kuhlman to keep it up after showing in the past that his game fades a bit once he plays a few games in a row and enters back into the grind of the NHL.

His speed and tenacity could help the Bruins in the short term, but only if he’s got the ability to play that way just about every night.

“What I like about [Karson] Kuhlman is what I’ve always said, is that he can sit for stretches. You know, you get into those power plays and he doesn’t get that many minutes, and his motor gets zero to sixty in a hurry,” said Bruce Cassidy. “The bigger-body guys, they just naturally have a tougher time with that when they sit, it just tends to be the way it is. So, that’s one thing we’ve always liked about Kuhly — he can get up, get motor, get on pucks, get on defense, win some races.

“I mean, tonight [Thursday] he obviously chipped in a little bit of offense, good for him. We expect some level of offense and to get it right away is a nice win, it’s nice to have that production. Drives the net on the [Sean] Kuraly goal — something else we’ve talked about, getting inside a little more. Big or small, we need that. Against good teams, you have to be able to do that. All in all, Kuhly, nice night for what he brings and we’re happy to have him back. He’s a nice player for us.”

The Bruins went into this season with Kuhlman earmarked as a top-six winger for David Krejci after he put together three goals and five points in 11 games last season and had a few moments in the playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final as well. It was as much a statement about the Bruins being short on top-six wingers as much as it was about their excitement in Kuhlman’s game. That remains the case with the trade deadline looming next month.  

“It was great to be back, to be honest with you. A lot of adrenaline and my legs were there and my conditioning was there. So, I was happy to be where we were at. I was happy to be back,” said Kuhlman. “It was just getting to the bench and re-focusing on what I can do to help the team win. My game is getting up and down the ice, winning puck battles and getting pucks to the net. Keeping it simple is one of the best things I can do to help this team.”

Some have deduced that Kuhlman (5-11, 185) replacing Ritchie (6-4, 220) means the Bruins have consciously chosen speed and skill over size and strength for the long haul and it remains to be seen if that’s the case. What Kuhlman, 24, did do is again show he's capable of helping the Bruins in short bursts and against smaller, speedier opponents. That in itself is no small feat for a team in search of energy and wins right now.