By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Zdeno Chara gave it his best shot as any red-blooded competitor would. The 33-year-old defenseman couldnt answer the bell in Game Two of Boston Bruins' best-of-seven Stanley Cup series against the Montreal Canadiens due to severe dehydration and a flu-like illness, and it cost the team severely.
Chara managed to man up for the warm-up skate at TD Garden prior to the game and nearly everyone thought the Bs Captain would play, but instead the Bruins blueliner was not granted medical clearanceafter being hospitalized overnight because of dehydration. Chara played 25 minutes in the Game One loss to the Canadiens and took part in a full Friday practice, but went to the hospital later on Fridaywhen he wasnt feeling well.
His teammates assumed once theyd seen the Bruins defenders haggard appearance that it would be enough to keep Chara out of the lineup, but that never daunted the team in terms of replacing a valuable player short-term. Perhaps it should have as Chara is clearly the most irreplacable piece on the B's roster, and somebody that simply can't be made up for by the other six blueliners on Boston's active roster.
Everyone in this room knows each other well enough that if theres any chance that you can help the team, youre going to go. We all know how tough Chara is, he doesnt have to prove that to anybody, saidAndrew Ference.He makes the right decision for the team, so he knows himself better than anybody else.
Coach Claude Julien said Chara was sweating and dizzy after the pregame skate, and TV replays at both Versus and NESN showed the big defenseman simply trying to battle to keep the puck on his stick during warmups. It was only the second game this season that Chara missed along with the final off-day during the regular season, and his coach gave an impassioned defense of his leader when it was clear he wouldn't be able to play due to illness.Chara will certainly hear it from the media and fans because it's the Stanley Cup playoffs and something like dehydration wouldn't seem to be something that could really knock a player out -- but it can and did in the big 6-foot-9 Captain's case.
"He deserves so much better for what he did tonight, coming to the rink and going out there for the warm-up, said Julien. "Even attempting to come, it was courageous on his part. We missed him. He did the best he could, but to be honest with you it wasn't even close.
I know that hes been beat up on a little bit with some of you media that think you know better than anybody else, but there was no way he could play. So anything else, its disappointing to see people making comments. And youre going to say, Well, we dont know the whole thing. Well, I think if he could have played, he would have played tonight. He tried his best and he couldnt play. So, disappointing that people would even question this guy for what he is and what hes done.
The Bruins will have a dry-land day of workouts Sunday, then will travel up toMontreal on Sunday afternoon in anticipation of Monday night's Game Three at the raucous Bell Centre.
The Bruins have fallen behind 2-0 in 26 different playoff series over the long history of the Bruins franchise, and the Bs have dropped every since one of the 26 games throughout their history. The Bruins have also now lost six straight playoff games and been outscored by a 20-9 margin over that time in six defeats at the hands of the Flyers and the Canadiens.
"Let's be honest: Our team has not played at all close to the way we can," Julien said. "If they're going to score some goals, they're going to need to earn them more than they have. We had to work pretty hard to get that one goal. I don't think they had to work as hard to get theirs." JohnnyBoychuk andDennis Seidenberg both had tough nights in their own end with Chara out of the lineup, and it was Boychuk who twice was caught flat-footed by crashing Canadiens for goals after Tim Thomas kicked out gigantic juicy rebounds. Boychuk and Seidenberg were both a minus-2 and got caught on the first and third goals attempting to make long stretch passes to forwards that never had a chance against the fast recovery of the Montreal attackers in the neutral zone."Number one you cant every say that you didnt miss Zdeno Chara. Hes one of the best defensemen in the league and when you lose a guy like that it leaves you with a big hole. Having said that, I still think our Ds are capable of handling themselves and can definitely be better," said Julien. "Those costly goals are what were talking about. They have to make the other team earn their goals and I dont think that was the case tonight. We certainly have to get better in regards to that and those kinds of mistakes and are type we cant keep making."
Canadiens D Hal Gill played in his 100th career playoff game. The first 36 were with the Bruins. He is still looking for his first goal.
Tyler Seguin and Matt Bartkowksi were the healthy scratches for the Bruins Saturday night, and Steve Kampfer sat out knee injury. Seguin could very well get a chance to crack the lineup and play for Boston after his teammates went a miserable 0-for-7 on the power play in the first two games against the Habs."We'll see," said Julien of the potential for Seguin to play. "We'll see about that."