Chara (leg) looking to return soon

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Chara (leg) looking to return soon

OTTAWA Zdeno Chara is perfectly human, but nobody can be blamed for wondering if there are some cyborg parts in there.

Just four days after many feared the worst when his left knee buckled following a collision with Columbus' Antoine Vermette, Zdeno Chara was back on Scotiabank Centre ice skating with Jordan Caron.

Chara again seemed to be operating without much of a limp while digging into the frozen sheet and said afterward that hes slowly progressing back from his left knee issue. He skated for roughly 30 minutes, but it's unlikely that he returns against the Senators Wednesday night.

But a return Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers hasnt been ruled out, and Chara is progressing far ahead of the early prognostications.

Chara unflinchingly maintained that hes a game time decision tonight and likely will be moving forward now that hes in a day-to-day situation with the lower body injury. The question now becomes whether its prudent to rush the 6-foot-9 franchise defenseman back when a few days of rest in December could pay dividends for the warhorse blueliner down the line.

There is no rush, although the Bs seemed to employ a bend but dont break defense that allowed 41 shots to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. The risk of wear and tear on Dennis Seidenberg, who may be pushed to play almost 30 minutes per game in Charas absence, is low because the B's schedule spaces out games over the next two weeks.

Theres also this: Chara is as proud as he is tough. He would love to make a statement by returning far before many thought he would.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

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Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.