By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is no stranger to getting popped in the mouth.
Getting popped in the face by a deflected puck, however, is a different story. And one that left the Black and Gold without the physical punisher of their top pairing for the second half of a 4-2 Game 4 loss at the Enterprise Center on Monday night.
Zdeno Chara takes this one right to the face. Bloody and down the tunnel pic.twitter.com/6Oxm7XkpBv— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) June 4, 2019
“We clearly know he got a puck in the face,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the loss. “[Chara] was advised not to return to play. Had some stitches, probably some dental work in the near future.
“He wanted to come out on the bench and be with his teammates. That’s why he was out there.”
Given that desire to be there, Chara put on a full shield and was seated on the Boston bench to begin the third period, but it was clear that he had trouble speaking. In fact, it appeared borderline impossible for the team’s on-ice leader. It wasn’t until the midpoint point of the third period that cameras finally captured Chara attempting to rally the troops as best he could during a TV timeout, but even then he appeared verbally limited, to say the least.
And when the Bruins were sent to the penalty kill early in the third period and Chara remained on the bench for the entire (successful) kill, it was clear what was happening.
The 42-year-old captain was really only on the bench for moral support.
So with Chara playing the role of muted spectator, the Bruins were yet again forced to play with just five defensemen.
Cassidy relied heavily on Torey Krug as their de facto top-pairing defender on the left side, and Krug finished with a team-high 9:59 of action in the third period of a losing effort. Chara’s absence also led to an increase workload for injury fill-in John Moore, whose 19:06 were a personal playoff high this spring and his most on-ice action since Mar. 19 against the Islanders. Charlie McAvoy, meanwhile, led all Boston skaters with 25:51 of time on ice in the defeat.
And while their efforts were noteworthy, there was no doubt that the Bruins missed their 6-foot-9 captain, especially as chaotic and physical sequences in the Boston end became the norm upon his departure, and with an obvious lack of organization among the five remaining defenders throughout the night.
But the real trouble is that the Bruins were short on updates regarding Chara’s status after the series-tying loss in St. Louis.
“I don’t know his status for Game 5,” Cassidy admitted. “I mean obviously when he gets back home he’ll have to reevaluated, see how he feels tomorrow, for starters.
“I can’t say whether he’ll play in Game 5. I have no idea.”
Game 5 is Thursday night at TD Garden.