Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be out of the lineup Monday night against the Capitals, and instead will be right around the corner at Massachusetts General Hospital, undergoing follow-up surgery related to the fractured jaw he sustained in June during the Stanley Cup Final.
According to Chara, 42, his jaw became infected in recent weeks, the result of bacteria festering around the plates and screws used to piece the jaw back together months earlier.
Doctors will remove all the hardware from Chara’s jaw, ideally returning the defenseman to the lineup in full working order as early as Friday night in Buffalo. The Bruins begin a holiday break immediately after the Capitals visit and will be off until they board their charter flight to Buffalo on Friday.
“The area where the surgery was done got infected, which is kind of rare, but it does happen,” Chara said Sunday after participating in the club’s full 40-minute workout in Brighton. “The decision was made to avoid maybe further troubleshooting with that area, basically to remove all the plates and screws and clean it up.
“Instead of putting the plates in, they’re going to be taking the plates out.”
Chara was felled in Game 4 of the Cup Final, the puck nailing him in the jaw at 3:07 of the second period. As Chara reached with his right arm and stick to disrupt Brayden Schenn’s sweeping wrist shot in the right-wing faceoff circle, the puck fired off Chara’s stick blade and cracked his jaw, the 6-foot-9-inch behemoth falling to the ice with blood pouring from his mouth area.
According to Chara then, doctors used two plates, wires, and screws to repair “multiple fractures” in his jaw. He returned to play in Game 5 and the remainder of the series.
Chara, though uncertain of some specifics related to the medical procedure, said Sunday the infection never caused a fever and he does not expect to have to remain overnight at the hospital following the surgery. Provided all goes as planned, he’ll be home in his downtown condominium with wife and children to celebrate Christmas.
“Obviously it’s going to be kind of challenging during Christmas time, especially with the kids,” said Chara. “We’ll see how sore or swelled up I’m going to be — that’s just the way it is. That’s kind of part of the job. We all accept that, so yeah, we’ll see.”
Has dad warned the kids he might not be looking his best when he comes home?
“No, I don’t talk about that,” said a smiling Chara. “They’ve already seen me enough in their short lives . . . to understand it’s just part of my job that you come home and you have these bruises and bumps.”
Provided the Bruins don’t reach down to Providence of the AHL, Chara’s absence will bring John Moore back into the back-line rotation. Moore was a healthy scratch Saturday when the Bruins lost in OT, 4-3, to Nashville at TD Garden.
It was Boston’s eighth loss in 11 games (3-4-4).
Chara on Saturday finished with 19 minutes 31 seconds in ice time, third among Boston blue liners, behind Charlie McAvoy (25:34) and Torey Krug (24:56).
A grand target
Chara on Saturday dressed for his 992nd regular-season game as a Bruin. Provided he misses only the Capitals game, he will play his 1,000th game in Black and Gold against the Islanders in Brooklyn Jan. 11. Chara played his first NHL game with the Islanders in the 1997-98 season . . . Tuukka Rask, 0-2-3 and with a .882 save percentage over his past five starts, will be in net vs. Washington. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Saturday that he might go with Jaroslav Halak, for what would be the backup’s first back-to-back starts of the season. Halak then looked shaky on a couple of goals Saturday night, setting the stage for Rask’s return. Rask, nearly unbeatable for the first two months of 2019-20, is now 13-4-5.
Cassidy said he will make one change at forward, setting the stage for either David Backes or Joakim Nordstrom to draw back into the rotation. “We have to play our best checking game of the year against Washington,” said Cassidy. “They’re a dangerous team.” Among the focus points: limiting the chances of blue liners delivering shots from the high slot and points. As of Sunday morning, John Carlson led all NHL defensemen in points (13-34—47) and was tied with Florida winger Jonathan Huberdeau at No. 7 in league scoring . . . Based on the workouts at Warrior Ice Arena, Cassidy probably will pair McAvoy with Moore, which will leave Krug with Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton, who tied Brett Ritchie Saturday with a game-high five hits. The Bruins are 12-1-8 on home ice. No other team in the league has suffered in OT/shootouts on home ice like the Bruins. The other 30 teams have combined for 70 OT/shootout losses. The Devils, 30th in the league’s overall standings, are 5-8-5 on home ice.