Chara may return to play against Flyers


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.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON -- Malcolm Subban still believes he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that sort of sheer, brazen self-confidence is admirable -- especially after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden Tuesday -- pretty much all the evidence points to the contrary. Given a shot because of injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, nearly two years after getting pulled from his only other NHL appearance when he gave up three goals on six shots in St. Louis, Subban was taken out Tuesday night after allowing three goals on eight second-period shots.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone afterwards, a testament to his maturity and mental toughness.

“It sucks," said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one . . . but what can you do now, right?

"Obviously I want to be a No. 1 goaltender in the league. I was a [first-round draft choice] for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it . . . I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts, combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft have proven their worth and advanced to the elite level: Matt Murray. Frederik Anderson. Connor Hellebuyck. Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly Tuesday in his first chance to do so.

Hampered by a Bruins team not playing well in front of him, the first goal he allowed was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third was a softie low and to the glove side, a power-play strike authored by Ryan Suter. Instead of hanging in and giving his team a chance to win, Subban helped put the Bruins in a hole they couldn't escape.

While Claude Julien felt the poor performance "could be a combination" of goaltending and overall defensive lapses, he didn't let Subban off the hook.

“There are some goals -- I’m not going to lie -- there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had," said the coach.

But he also wasn't going to place the blame solely at Subban's feet.

"[I’m] not here to talk about a goaltender -- who’s in one of his first few games -- because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him . . .  and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough. Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide-open shots from the slot -- like the Chris Stewart score in the second period 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal -- are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player (Subban) who should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first-round pick in 2012. Anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after his two Bruins appearances. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first-round bust rather than a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer if Rask can’t make a rapid recovery from his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and, to be fair, the three goals allowed to Minnesota weren't all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that he should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie who'd been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, one who's never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.