(SportsNetwork.com) – The Boston Bruins will try to get by without captain
Zdeno Chara when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for Saturday’s Atlantic
Division battle at Air Canada Centre.
Chara suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in the first period of
Thursday’s loss against the New York Islanders and will be sidelined for the
next 4-to-6 weeks. For now, the Bruins don’t believe surgery will be required.
“It’s obviously a blow,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli on
Friday. “He’s one of the premier defensemen in the league, but I’d rather have
it 4-to-6 weeks than 4-to-6 months.”
Boston’s star blueliner was hurt while delivering a hit to Islanders forward
John Tavares. Chara has two goals and an assist through nine games this
season, his ninth with the Bruins. The 37-year-old captain has been durable
throughout his tenure in Boston, missing no more than five games in any of his
previous eight seasons.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien expects to lean heavily on defensemen Dougie
Hamilton, Torey Krug and Dennis Seidenberg during Chara’s absence. The team
also recalled untested blueliners Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from its
American Hockey League affiliate in Providence. Trotman broke into the NHL
with two games last season, while Morrow, a former first-round pick of the
Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011, has yet to play at the top level of professional
Boston flunked its first test without Chara, giving up two goals in the first
10 minutes of the second period to allow New York to grab a 3-1 lead. The
Bruins played well after that, but the damage was already done as the Isles
wound up claiming a 3-2 victory.
“You can’t win hockey games just by playing a period,” Julien said.
Former Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson returned to TD Garden and won Thursday’s
game. Johnson, who served as Tuukka Rask’s backup last season, made 14 of his
30 saves in the third period. Johnny Boychuk also returned to Boston for the
first time since being traded to the Islanders on Oct. 4.
Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly had the goals for Boston, which fell to 4-5-0 on
the season after being denied its third straight win. Niklas Svedberg, who has
replaced Johnson as Rask’s backup, stopped 35-of-38 shots.
Toronto hopes to open the 2014-15 season series against the Bruins by picking
up its third straight regular-season victory over Boston. However, the B’s
have claimed 11 of the past 14 meetings and the Leafs have dropped five of
their last seven home games versus Boston.
The Maple Leafs did earn a victory their last time out, halting a two-game
slide with Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over the Islanders. Toronto was scheduled to
play the following night in Ottawa, but that game was postponed until Nov. 9
after a shooting Wednesday morning in Canada’s capital city. The game was
called off after a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War
Memorial in downtown Ottawa was shot and killed.
The Leafs, Senators and Montreal Canadiens will all stage coordinated tributes
tonight prior to the start of their respective home games.
Phil Kessel scored twice during a four-goal outburst in the second period of
Tuesday’s win. Kessel, who also posted an assist, has four goals and four
helpers this season and snapped a two-game point drought in the victory over
James van Riemsdyk, Roman Polak and David Clarkson also scored, while Jonathan
Bernier had 34 saves to record the win. Bernier stopped 24 shots over the last
two periods after giving up two goals in the first.
“Bernie played well in net for us and we were able to get some goals for him,”
Bernier is 1-2-0 with a 4.29 goals against average in four career games
against Boston, while fellow Toronto netminder James Reimer is 5-5-1 with a
2.71 GAA in 11 tests versus the Bruins.
Rask boasts a lifetime 9-2-0 mark and 1.64 GAA in 13 appearances in this