WILMINGTON -- Zdeno Chara skated through the first half of a lengthy Monday practice for the Bruins at Ristuccia Arena before exiting at the midway point, a move that might have caused panic in some unaware of the team’s plan. But the B’s captain was expected to leave midway through practice all along after missing Saturday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators with an undisclosed injury. He is a question mark for Tuesday’s New Year’s Eve tilt against the New York Islanders.
Saturday night was the first time Chara has missed an NHL regular-season game since he was out for a pair of games back in 2011 with a twisted knee. Clearly the B's missed their 6-foot-9 power play scorer and defensive intimidator.
“He was out on the ice, and I guess he’s progressing,” Claude Julien said. “We’ll make a decision depending on how he’s doing [prior to the Islanders game].”
The Bruins nearly pulled off a win on Saturday night at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa without the dominating Chara and rugged Dennis Seidenberg. The team called Kevan Miller up from Providence to replace some of the missing size and strength along the blue line.
“When you’re missing Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in one game, you’re missing a lot of size and strength,” Julien said. “Even though our other guys battled hard, you’ve got to be honest that you don’t have that same size and presence as far as separating guys from pucks and getting it out of your own end quickly.
"Once Chara is back then you’re down just Seidenberg, and you have a big, strong guy in Miller coming in. [Seidenberg] has always been a good playoff performer for us, and maybe at that point you see where you are.”
Chara is on a pace for 19 goals and 36 points this season, and he has three goals and six points along with a plus-5 in 11 games during the month of December.