In the aftermath of the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Islanders last Thursday at TD Garden, most of the players lingered on the unknown status of captain Zdeno Chara. It turned out that the PCL tear he suffered in his left knee would put him out of action for 4-6 weeks. Even at the age of 37, Chara is still one of the most dominant players in the NHL so it’s silly to expect a call-up from Providence or someone that is in and out of their lineup to replace him. With that said, after the doom and gloom of Thursday night and all of Friday, the B’s proved on Saturday night with their 4-1 win at Toronto that they have the depth and system to survive Chara’s temporary absence.
“We weren’t playing well before Z’s injury, but we saw the real team that we like to see in the third period,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “How you react to (a major injury) is important.”
Dennis Seidenberg is still getting back on track from his own serious knee injury from last season but on Saturday, he played a game-high 25:59. He had one assist, was plus-2, blocked two shots and had three hits in his best performance of the season. His defensive partner, Dougie Hamilton, also had his breakout offensive game with a breathtaking goal and two assists - which tied his career-high for points in a game.
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Obviously, you can’t expect Seidenberg to play at that Chara-type level every time and Hamilton won’t have multiple points in every contest, but that was a portrait of what those guys can do if a little more is expected of them.
The newest Bruin is defenseman Zach Trotman, who was recalled from Providence on Friday after Chara’s injury. He was on the third pairing with Matt Bartkowski and skated a team-low (for defensemen) 12:29. He had two shots and one hit.
With three games this week: at home against Minnesota on Tuesday (7 p.m., NESN), at Buffalo on Thursday (7 p.m., NESN) and at home against Ottawa on Saturday (7 p.m., NESN), Boston will quickly get used to life without Chara.
“Seeing Chara go down was not a great sight to see but we can overcome that,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “He is irreplaceable, but everyone can do a little extra.”
Prior to Saturday, Chara had missed a grand total of 20 games in his Bruins career (8 years!), though he often seemed run down by the time the postseason rolled around. Perhaps a break early in the regular season isn’t the worst thing in the world.