By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON -- Zdeno Chara should know later today whether he'll get the call to play in the raucous Bell Centre on Monday night as the Bruins play back-to-back preseason games against the rival Montreal Canadiens.
The first game will be in Brad Marchand's hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday night. The second will be on Monday night at the Bell Centre, home of the Habs and their lunatic fringe fans. And when we say lunatic fringe, we mean that in the nicest way possible.
It's doubtful that Benoit Pouliot will be in the lineup against the Habs in Montreal on Monday, and Chara isn't expected to play in the Bell Centre rink that has deemed him public enemy No. 1 after last year's stanchion hit with Max Pacioretty. The late season collision with the turnbuckle left Pacioretty with a broken vertebrae and a severe concussion, and left raging Canadiens fans to look into pressing criminal charges against the B's captain.
With all of that still swirling around in the bubbling hockey cauldron that is Montreal, Chara may get a pass on skating in the game. But the 6-foot-9 defenseman isn't afraid of much, and he said after Saturday's practice at TD Garden that he's just as soon to play against the Habs on their home ice.
It really doesn't matter to me where I play. It's all the same. They're going to do what they're going to do, said Chara, when asked if he had any apprehension about playing a preseason game at the Bell Centre after last year's wild season series against the Canadiens. I know that I did nothing wrong. I'll always play the same way and that's not going to change. I play hard and I play clean. I'll do that if I play there, or anywhere else.
There were times last season when it seemed the Pacioretty incident was wearing on Chara mentally and physically, but it looks and sounds like the defenseman has definitively turned the page on the incident. That's a good thing for the Black and Gold considering all of the seasonal and playoff battles that may be looming against their fiercest hockey rivals.