Chara (virus) leaves a big void
After warm-ups, captain scratched
Last night, Zdeno Chara took the ice for warm-ups. He went through his regular routine. But when he got off the ice, it was clear to Bruins coach Claude Julien that the virus that had hospitalized Chara for dehydration the previous day wasn’t going to let him play.
“He was sweaty,’’ said Julien. “He was dizzy. There was no way in the world that we could have used him tonight and played him. Absolutely no way.
“The doctors told us the same thing. I spoke to him. Even attempting to come was courageous on his part. But there was absolutely no way he could have played tonight.
“It’s unfortunate. We missed him. Certainly he did the best he could to even try. To be honest with you, it wasn’t even close.’’
Chara logged 25:06 of ice time in Game 1. He landed five shots and had five more attempts blocked. Two of his blasts hobbled Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen. He also threw three hits and blocked two shots.
The Bruins captain practiced Friday at Ristuccia Arena, then told the training staff he felt ill.
Chara didn’t participate in an optional morning skate yesterday, but Julien said then he expected Chara to play.
“Unless our medical staff tells me he can’t go, he’s in tonight,’’ Julien said.
Many of Chara’s teammates weren’t aware of his condition until Friday night or yesterday morning. Once Chara took the ice for warm-ups, they anticipated their captain would play. But when he wasn’t cleared, they had to adjust to his absence.
After all, Chara is the team’s most important player. During the regular season, Chara had 14 goals and 30 assists while averaging 25:26 of ice time, mostly against opposing top players.
In Game 1 of this series, Chara saw most of his ice time against Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez, Montreal’s top two centers. He also played 2:27 on the power play, manning the point alongside Tomas Kaberle on the first unit.
“As a team, we’ve dealt with injuries before to big guys,’’ said Andrew Ference. “While you miss a great player, we absolutely have a totally capable team. Our defense is more than just our defensemen.
“It’s definitely something we’re not going to use as a crutch or an excuse.’’
Shane Hnidy, a healthy scratch in Game 1, dressed last night in Chara’s place. Hnidy skated only seven shifts for 4:13. He engaged James Wisniewski in a second-period fight after the Montreal defenseman dumped Rich Peverley from behind.
Kaberle led all players with 28:04 of ice time. Dennis Seidenberg submitted a 26:40 workload.
“You can’t ever say that you didn’t miss Chara,’’ Julien said. “He’s one of the best defensemen in the league. When you lose a guy like that, it leaves you with a big hole.
“Having said that, I still think our D’s are capable of handling themselves. They can definitely be better.’’
Horton demoted One of the Bruins’ hopes heading into last night’s game was getting more push from the first line. After 40 minutes, Julien didn’t think he was getting the required performance from Nathan Horton.
Through 12:53 of ice time alongside Milan Lucic (one shot through two periods) and David Krejci (two), Horton didn’t land a single puck on Carey Price. So when the third period started, Peverley assumed Horton’s spot on the No. 1 line.
Horton finished the night with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Horton, acquired from Florida to serve as a go-to No. 1 right wing, didn’t record any shots in the third period, either.
“We always say he needs to play with an edge,’’ Julien said. “We want him to play with an edge. But not to the point where he gets frustrated.
“This is his first experience in the playoffs. He certainly wants to do well. Maybe he just needs to make sure he keeps his focus in the right place. After playing a couple games, you hope he’s going to learn those kinds of things.
“We need him to be focused. We need him to play with an edge and we need him not to get frustrated.’’
Two down Kostitsyn participated in warm-ups, skating in his usual spot on Montreal’s first line, but he was a late scratch. Also out was Jeff Halpern, who missed Game 1 because of a lower-body injury. Yannick Weber, a healthy scratch in Game 1, got the nod. Weber scored Montreal’s third goal and played 10:53 . . . Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch for Boston for the second straight game. With the Bruins averaging 0.5 goals per game, Seguin might see action tomorrow at the Bell Centre . . . Patrice Bergeron led all players with six shots . . . Hal Gill blocked a game-high five shots . . . P.K. Subban led the Canadiens in ice time for the second straight game. Subban skated 27:06, one second more than he did in Game 1. Once again, Subban and Gill kept the first line off the scoresheet.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.