Zdeno Chara is set to play for the 999th time as a Bruin in Saturday’s visit to the New York Islanders. The Bruins captain missed Thursday’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets because of a jaw problem related to surgery performed after last season.
“I feel ready to go,” Chara said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena Friday. “I want to play, yeah, excited for tomorrow.”
Chara had hoped to be in the lineup against Winnipeg but followed medical advice.
“Talked to him a little bit [Thursday] about the danger of playing through what he’s going through,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He wants to play every game.
“But that was a decision made higher up, that he should take the day off. He did, begrudgingly, but he wants to get back in there tomorrow, and I believe he will be.”
Chara, 42, sustained a broken jaw during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, but continued to play. He underwent surgery after the season and again to remove hardware Dec. 23.
“He had some screws or plates, I’m not sure exactly what,” Cassidy said. “There’s a bit of a risk of infection, so they have to go in there every once in a while.
So, the last time, we thought it may be infection but it was something else going on there that was causing a lot of discomfort. So they had to go back in there, open it up. They did another procedure, I think, a few days ago.
“We assumed he didn’t let us in on the fact it was very uncomfortable. Once he did, we took him out.”
Chara practiced at full speed in a half-hour session Friday.
“Of course I want to play but, you know, sometimes you have to listen to your body, listen to the doctors,” Chara said. “I think the decision was made for the right reasons, so today is a new day and getting ready for tomorrow’s game.”
Asked if he thought the problem had been solved, Chara said, “I hope so. It’s very unfortunate. Sometimes these things happen for whatever reasons.
“This one, obviously, came out of nowhere on the morning of the Nashville game [a 6-2 Bruins win Tuesday]. So, right away we were taking precautionary actions, ended up monitoring it closely, and so that’s just where it’s at right now.”
Chara also has played 137 playoff games for the Bruins and totaled 1,528 contests since beginning his career with the Islanders during the 1997-98 season. He could reach the 1,000-game mark for the Bruins in a visit to Philadelphia Monday.
Keep it simple
The Bruins (26-8-11), who have scored 11 goals in their last two games, have a four-game unbeaten road mark (3-0-1) with a 15-7 goal differential since Dec. 12.
“I think it’s build from what we’ve done well,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “I think it’s pretty simple. To me, it’s getting to the net, following the puck, and getting it there, having someone there.
“Often, we try to do too much, and that’s when you kind of get away from playing the right way and getting the results, ultimately. So that’s what it’s all about. I think it’s keep simplifying that game and getting better as a team.’’
“It was nice to see contributions from all around the lineup [against Winnipeg]. That’s how we win and that’s how we’re successful and we’ve just got to carry that on.”
Cassidy is encouraging the Bruins to continue to shoot first and ask questions later, especially against the Islanders’ 1-1-3 setup.
“There is always a line of three back, they’re pretty consistent with it,” Cassidy said. “Very structured in that regard, so it’s tough to gain a blue line with numbers. You can get it in the zone but they usually have three back, so you’re not getting a lot of odd-man rushes, a lot of situations where you’re going to get one of those clear neutral-zone attacks.
“Now, if your D can beat their forwards up the ice, there’s a little room in there, but that means the next wave has to participate.”
Said winger Anders Bjork, “It’s important against every team. But a team like [the Islanders] has good, hard-working defensemen, good skating defensemen, too. It’s definitely important to get the puck all the way behind their goalie and come at them with speed. Allows us to play in the offensive zone and hold onto the puck and more O zone time opportunities.”