|John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. |
A small group of injured and recently scratched players took to the ice Monday in Wilmington, and B's defenseman Zdeno Chara
was one of them.
The Bruins captain looked strong, stronger than he had on Saturday in the TD Banknorth Garden, and his intense demeanor provided hope that he might be available for action this week against the Montreal Canadiens.
"It's getting better," said Chara. "We'll see how it is [on Tuesday],
"Hopefully there are no setbacks.
"We'll keep moving forward, day-to-day, and see how it feels," he said.
With the only only official words on the issue being "upper-torso injury" Big Zee was asked if there were anything he couldn't do?
"I'm doing everything everybody else is doing," he answered, before he conceded that nobody has everything in the tank at this time of year.
On a follow up question, the captain was queried as to whether he could go at less than full strength.
"Nobody, at this point, is 100%," explained Zee. "As long as I feel that it's good enough to be playing, I'll be playing."
Chara, who scored the game-tying goal in a 2-1 win over the Capitals on March 8th after being hurt earlier in the contest, said his injury was not on his mind as that game reached crunch time.
"You're just thinking about winning the hockey game," he said. "You want to help the team to win.
"You worry about other things later.
"After the game I felt like it needed to be rested," said Chara.
If everything goes correctly, that rest will end today.
Let's take a look at the Eastern Conference standings (courtesy NHL.com):
Mirtle, the hockey blogger, at mirtle.blogspot.com updated his "standings" as well...Here's a look at the record each team needs to attain my projected point mark and (essentially) guarantee a playoff berth (updated with Monday games):
Eastern Conference (92 points)
New Jersey - 1-9-0
Pittsburgh - 1-8-1
Montreal - 1-7-1
Ottawa - 2-6-1
N.Y. Rangers - 4-5-1
Boston - 4-4-1
Carolina - 4-3-1
Philadelphia - 6-3-0
Buffalo - 6-2-1
Washington - 7-2-0
Florida - 7-1-0
Toronto - 9-0-0
N.Y. Islanders - max 89 points
Atlanta - max 86 points
Tampa Bay - max 86 points
Mirtle also reports that Boston is third in the entire NHL with 305 man games lost to injury.
The 92-point mark seems a resonable assumption. But I have heard others go as low as a 90 point "guarantee" for the playoffs.
Big Zee skated and looked pretty darn great -- and in my opinion even showed improvement on Monday's effort, which was also quite good.
Today, a very fired up Zdeno Chara
gave Tim Thomas
and Manny Fernandez all they could handle in goal and seemed to have no physical limitations. BTW: Manny Fernandez has been cleared by the Bruins medical staff to practice and play.
Unfortunately, there was no team practice today, as Coach Julien sought to rest the Bruins for another day -- although they did do on ice conditioning.
Unfortunately, we may have to wait a day or two to see if Captain Chara, who turns 31 today, is prepared to battle the Habs.
"It's feeling better...it's getting better, slowly," was all he would say on the subject of his "upper torso injury."
And on the subject of Thursday, all Chara would say was, "I don't know, we'll see how it feels tomorrow.
"Everyday is a test," he said.