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Zdeno Chara will miss 4 to 6 weeks

Zdeno Chara will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.Winslow Townson/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Zdeno Chara will miss at least a month with a knee injury, the biggest blow yet to a battered Bruins defense.

Before facing the Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday night, the Bruins said Chara has a left MCL injury, and would be evaluated in approximately four weeks. The Globe reported Saturday morning, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, that Chara’s expected absence was 4-6 weeks.

The 41-year-old captain was felled in the first period of Wednesday’s game at Colorado, his left knee buckling inward when he checked ex-teammate Carl Soderberg along the boards. Chara finished his shift, laboring for 27 seconds until Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored a breakaway goal. He then left the game.

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If out until Christmas — six weeks from Tuesday — Big Z would miss 19 games.

The loss of Chara is a hard one, even in his declining years. He is the Bruins’ their leader in shorthanded time on ice (3:17 per game), is second in overall minutes (21:30), and faces top forwards nightly. With his intelligence and reach, he covers a lot of ice — and covers for others’ mistakes.

The Bruins, currently missing six of their best defensemen to injury, greatly need his presence to help rookies Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril, both of whom made their NHL debuts Friday, and Jeremy Lauzon, who played in his eighth career game Saturday.

In addition to Chara, the team is without Charlie McAvoy (head), Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (lower body), Kevan Miller (right hand), and top prospect Urho Vaakanainen (concussion). Coach Bruce Cassidy said Friday he had never seen a blue line so badly hurting.

Chara, 6 feet 9 inches and 250 pounds, remains a man no opponent dares to cross, and every teammate respects.

“He’s a big part of our team, obviously, being the captain,” Cassidy said. “He takes a lot of pride in winning and losing, the culture around here. These are the guys you miss after you haven’t won for a couple of games. They usually get the message out that today’s the game we’ve got to be extra focused.

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“That’s where we miss Bergy, too,” Cassidy said, referring to ailing Patrice Bergeron. “These are our leaders 1A and 1B.”

Bergeron (upper body) and Moore were sent back to Boston after Friday’s game for tests on their most recent injuries. Bergeron is believed to be suffering a left shoulder ailment.

Among players, it is on veterans such as David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Torey Krug to fill the leadership void.

“Those are two guys that drive our locker room,” Krug said.

“We ask a lot them, not only on the ice, but in the room as well. They take it upon themselves to be that guy. We try to take the responsibility off their hands every once in a while. Now we have no choice.”

In addition to being the largest player in NHL history and the finest shutdown defenseman of his generation, Chara has been an iron man over his 21 seasons.

Chara’s last — and only — season significantly shortened by injury: a 63-gamer in 2014-15, when he tore the PCL in his left knee. Since becoming a regular (2000-01 with the New York Islanders), he has never missed more than that year’s 19 games.

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With 1,441 contests in his slam-dunk Hall of Fame career, he sits No. 29 on the career list. Among active players, only Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Matt Cullen are ahead.


Follow Matt Porter on Twitter @mattyports.