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.