Chara may return to play against Flyers

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Chara may return to play against Flyers

ROCKLAND, ONT. Nobody is ruling Zdeno Chara out for a marquee Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Not the Bruins coaching staff, and more importantly not the 6-foot-9 defenseman himself after missing a pair of games with a left knee injury suffered last week in Columbus. Chara skated with his teammates on Friday morning at the Canadian International Hockey Academy for the first time since suffering the injury, and came away feeling good after the session. Chara jumped into full-contact battle drills with his teammates and didnt shy away from the hits, but did look slightly careful in taking turns on his left side.

Chara wouldnt say whether hed have been able to play if the game was on Friday, but indicated his decision would hinge on how he feels waking up Saturday morning after a good hour-long practice.

It was the first team practice since the injury and there were some battle drills, so it felt pretty good. The decision to play is something were going to have to make tomorrow morning, said Chara. Every game is big and every game is important. I want to play every game. So far its been good with no setbacks. I want to see how its going to react after a good practice.

The last two or three days have been good. If its keeping up this way with no setbacks then my return is going to be soon. Its all been very positive so far.

The Bruins have won both games without Chara to raise their record to 6-5-3 in games without their captain over the last five seasons, but theyve also surrendered 90 shots in two games and looked extremely mortal from a defensive standpoint.

Hes feeling better and he looked pretty good. What were going to do is give him a chance to fly to Philadelphia and see how he feels after a good workout, said Claude Julien following practice. If he feels good then we have a chance of seeing him. If he doesnt feel good then well be patient with him.

Were talking probably no more than a day or two for him to be ready. I thought he was pretty close today and hopefully I get the right answer on him by the end of the day. But if not then its too early in the season to start taking chances with players right now.

Chara has missed a grand total of 14 games over the last five seasons and prides himself on being the toughest player in the NHL, so watching the last couple of Bs games from the press box hasnt been easy.

I definitely want to be out there. Nobody wants to be on the sidelines and not playing. You want to be there with the guys and be there for them, he said. Its tough. Its totally different watching the game and its something I dont want to get used to.

If everything continues along its current path, it looks like the Bruins could be getting back their Goliath defenseman in Chara just as the Flyers have lost theirs in Pronger for the duration of the season.

Young Bruins 'really excited' for preseason opener tonight

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Young Bruins 'really excited' for preseason opener tonight

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins aren’t going to have anything resembling an All-Star lineup when they take the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at TD Garden for their preseason opener. But they'll take a long, lingering look at their future with a game-night roster full of prospects and young players who still get butterflies at the thought of putting on an NHL sweater for an Original Six club.

Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Jakub Zboril, Robbie O’Gara, Peter Cehlarik and Brandon Carlo are among the top B’s youngsters that will be in the lineup, and will be cranking up the energy prior to puck drop against the Blue Jackets.

“Everybody is really excited. I woke up this morning with a big smile on my face knowing that I get to put the B’s jersey on and get to go out [on the ice] at TD Garden,” said Brandon Carlo, who will be paired with John-Michael Liles as he has been throughout the start of training camp. “I probably won’t have much of a nap today because I’m so amped up.

“I feel like I’m moving my feet out there, and I want to show that I’ve gotten better at things I worked on over the summer like moving the puck. I definitely want to show a little bit of physicality out there as well.”

The young players are the ones who also provide the most unknown variable for the coaching staff at this point. So the first preseason game is largely about how those hopefuls respond to faster, more physical and intense competition.

“You’re looking to see effort and energy tonight. If the effort and energy is there everything else will take care of itself,” said assistant coach Joe Sacco. “You don’t really want them to think too much out there tonight. This is a game where players are trying to showcase their talent, and we want them to do that.”

Sacco said Anton Khudobin will play the first two periods and Zane McIntyre will wrap things up. Here are the line combos and D-pairings expected to take the ice against the Blue Jackets:
 
DeBrusk-Czarnik-Hayes
Cehlarik-Kuraly-Mueller
Heinen-Nash-Griffith
Hargrove-Cave-Randell
 
Zboril-Miller
Liles-Carlo
Morrow-O’Gara
 
Khudobin
McIntyre

Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

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Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

BRIGHTON -- He may not get the chance, since he's now 32 and has thrown (and taken) plenty of hits during his 11-year NHL career, but new Bruin David Backes said he hopes to play for Team USA again to “have a nice taste in my mouth”.

Clearly, his last experience left a bad taste: The Americans finished dead last in the World Cup of Hockey, which is winding down now with Team Europe and Team Canada playing for the championship.

What also left a bad taste for Backes were the passive-aggressive Tweets sent out by U.S.-born players like Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan after the Americans lost all three games they played in the World Cup. And he isn't about to back down from the pointed criticism he directed at them.

“I was one of the guys called upon to go to the rink on a day off after we were eliminated . . . . one of four to stand up and answer the questions,” said Backes, who certainly showed his personal accountability by showing up to answer questions after Team USA had flopped on the world stage. “Rather than defer and plead the Fifth, I thought it was something we needed to address. I think it’s easy to sit back and sling mud . . . when you’re not a part of it.

“[You can] kind of make yourself feel good about it (by criticizing Team USA) for a second, but if I wasn’t selected for the team, or if I’m not selected to the Olympic team in two years, I’m still American, I’ve still worn that jersey, and I’m going to root for those guys and hope everything goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be crushed like I was on the team. That’s how I think as a team guy and as a guy that’s worn that jersey proudly and how much it means to me.

"I just hope and wish the other guys had those same feelings. If you’ve got some vindication not being on the team, and the team failing or not accomplishing the goal, then you should internalize that and use it as motivation going forward. You don’t need to join in with the chatter that’s negative and keeps piling on. Those are my visceral thoughts on the subject.”

Backes was a healthy scratch for Team USA’s final game against the Czech Republic, a listless defeat that dropped the U.S. to the bottom of the World Cup standings. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a competitor who clearly understands the importance of representing one’s country.

So it’s no surprise the Bruins center hopes he gets a chance to redeem himself by making the 2018 Winter Olympics team. Backes has skated for the U.S. in each of the last two Olympics.

“I hope (the World Cup isn't the last time I play for my country), but that’s out of my control,” said Backes. “If my services seem like I can help a team be successful, I’d love to put that jersey on and have a nice taste in my mouth for the last time I use it, or the next time I use it. But there are a lot of great players that are Americans, and the next GM, or whoever it is constructing the team, will have decisions to make. Whoever they pick, I hope [the team] goes and puts us back on top of the pedestal for whatever competition it is.”

Clearly the Bruins hope that as well, since it would be a clear indicator Backes is performing at an elite level a couple of seasons into his five-year, big-money contract with Boston.