PHILADELPHIA Zdeno Chara has proven once again that hes more machine than man.
One week after suffering a left knee injury that looked fairly serious in nature, Chara is returning to the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center for a game against the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers. Claude Julien said there was no hesitation in placing the 6-foot-9 defenseman back into the lineup, and that things werent being pushed despite Charas noted desire to avoid missing games.
Chara's presence became an automatic when the Bruins announced Friday nightthey were sending Steve Kampfer and Jordan Caron to Providence for some "knock the rust off" games this weekend.
Hes fine obviously. We wouldnt be taking the risk if he wasnt. Yesterdays practice went well and after we got here in Philly we checked in with him after the flight and he was great, said Julien. So hes been cleared to play and hes ready to jump back into the lineup.
The Bruins havent been the picture of defensive excellence over the last handful of games without Chara, and it was painfully obvious in allowing 90 shots to the Kings and Senators that things need to be tightened up. The Bs coach said it was more about the five-man unit pulling together through the neutral zone to slow down the oppositions attack than it was about installing Chara back into the lineup.
Charas absence may have a little bit to do with it, but not a lot, said Julien. Certainly our team is better than that with the amount of shots given. It wasnt Zdeno as much as it was all of us being much better without the puck.
Were giving teams a lot of space and werent closing the gaps quickly. Its a habit that had crept in before. We dont want to take any credit away from Chara, but we also dont want to give him any more than he deserves also.
Credit or not, there's a nagging sense the Bruins are going to be much better defensively with Charaagainst the Flyers in a marquee Eastern Conference tilt this afternoon.