Chara will miss B's last two games before Olympics

Chara will miss B's last two games before Olympics
February 1, 2014, 1:00 pm
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BOSTON – The Bruins have finally confirmed what everybody expected to be the case since the news broke that Zdeno Chara would carrying the Slovakian flag in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics: the B’s captain will miss the final two NHL regular season games against the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators prior to the two-week Olympic break.

Claude Julien said he didn’t know whether the 6-foot-9 captain would travel with the team to St. Louis, or simply fly to Sochi from Boston. But with the opening ceremonies for the Sochi Winter Olympics set for Feb. 7, it never really seemed feasible that Chara would be playing in the game against the Blues.

While it isn’t great for the Black and Gold in the short term, it’s not the worst news in the world that Chara gets a midseason rest given the compacted scheduled awaiting the soon-to-be 37-year-old after the Olympic break. Regardless, it’s still going to be a challenge making sure Chara has a full tank for the playoffs given the compacted schedule following the Winter Games.

“If you’re tired, then you’re tired,” said Claude Julien. “Would you be more tired if you played two more games? I think there’s a line there where if a player becomes tired then he’s tired. In his case will missing those two games give [Chara] some rest? Maybe for the Olympics, but I’m sure by the time he comes back from the Olympics he’s going to be tired.

“They’re going to utilize him a lot. That’s where I have to come and help him out there in his recovery to make sure we’ve got a well-rested player by the end of the year. That won’t be easy with 17 games in 31 days during the month of March.”

Chara’s absence will most likely leave Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk as the shutdown defensemen pair for the Bruins against the Blues and Senators, and could open a spot for the recovering Adam McQuaid. McQuaid has been working out on the bike for the last four days, and is getting closer to getting back on the ice with the Black and Gold.

“If he’s 100 percent, then [McQuaid] is going to go. There’s no use in holding a guy back if he’s 100 percent,” said Julien. “Especially with Zdeno gone, if [McQuaid] is 100 percent then he’ll be going back into the lineup.”