Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Chara 'feeling good,' expects to play
By Joe McDonald
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made it perfectly clear that he will be in the lineup against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
The team’s top defenseman missed Saturday’s game and half of Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, but he said after the team’s morning skate Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena that he will be in the lineup.
“I’m feeling good, thank you. How are you feeling?” Chara said with a smile when asked.
His presence in the lineup is critical to the team’s success, but especially now that fellow veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is out with a season-ending knee injury. Chara has been dealing with a nagging injury but it won’t keep him down.
“If you look at it, it’s not always the case that you’re going to be 100 percent,” he said. “A lot of players go through that on every team and that’s just the way it is. You have to battle through some aches and pains, but it’s pretty common in this sport and any other sport.”
Chara has been averaging close to 25 minutes per game this season and has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points, including a plus-4 rating in 38 games.
During training camp, Bruins coach Claude Julien made a statement that he would attempt to limit Chara’s ice time this season. The coach clarified that statement again on Tuesday.
"To be honest with you, I think we made a mistake by saying that, because that’s all people are looking at right now,” Julien admitted. “We didn’t say he couldn’t handle it. We said we wanted to minimize it and we do minimize it when we have everybody healthy. But he’s a great athlete, he’s still in good shape and he can handle those minutes. It’s not an issue.
“You want to make sure by the time you get to the end of the year he’s not burnt out and he never has been, maybe last year in the finals he was, but I don’t think that was because of the [regular] season. It was a long playoff series and the ice time we gave him through that eventually caught up to him.”
Chara prides himself on being in the best shape of anyone on the ice, and he’s shown that season after season. The 36-year-old blueliner says he’s feeling fine at this point of the season.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m trying to take care of myself and be ready for every game and whatever ice I’m going to get. I’ll work hard and do my best.”
As far as missing his playoff defensive partner, Chara said Seidenberg's presence will obviously be missed.
“Some of those things we can’t really control. We have to play like he would be in the lineup,” Chara said. “It’s very unfortunate that we lost him, but it’s a chance for other guys to step up, get more ice time and more opportunities.”