ST. LOUIS - Bruins captain Zdeno Chara met with the media following practice on Saturday afternoon for the first time since taking a puck to the face in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The 42-year-old was able to speak softly, but was clearly hampered by the facial injury that he played through during Boston's Game 5 loss.
Chara seems to have come out of that game - during which he played roughly 16 minutes - without any further issues and was a full participant during Saturday's on-ice session at Enterprise Center. The blue liner was once again wearing a specialized shield on his helmet.
"I feel fine playing," said Chara, who answered three questions during the press conference. "Obviously it was a quick turnaround after last game here, but I felt fine…there is no limitations. I'm still able to play…I'm trying to always eat as much as I can, keep my nutrition up."
Video: Chara and Rask speak following practice
The Big Man also continues to be an inspiration to his teammates as they marvel at what he is playing through while gearing up for a do-or-die Game 6 on Sunday night against the St. Louis Blues.
"He's our leader, he's the toughest guy out there," said Tuukka Rask, who sat beside Chara at the presser. "He doesn't take any games off unless it's impossible to play. It's an emotional lift for all of us. He's the backbone of the defense, it's a great help for us to have him back."
Despite the Bruins' season being on the line as they trail the Cup Final, 3-2, Chara said that he does not expect any special speeches or rah-rah moments ahead of Game 6. He believes it will be business as usual for the Black & Gold.
"I think that before every game we have meetings, we talk about what we want to do, how we want to play," said Chara. "I think it's gonna be a shared responsibility between the players, coaching staff, and all of us to do the share of talking and make sure that we are where we need to be, the right mindset and preparation for the game.
"But I don't think it's a specific speech or player that has to do all the talking. We've been really good as a team the whole season. We talk before the games and just preparation as usual."
Video: Cassidy discusses the upcoming Game 6
In a bit of a surprise development, Bruins winger Chris Wagner took the ice at Enterprise Center toward the end of Saturday's practice and went on to participate in a full skate with the Black Aces. The Walpole native has not played since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final when he blocked a slap shot with his right forearm.
Cassidy termed Wagner as doubtful for Game 6, but did not completely rule out the 28-year-old for a potential Game 7.
"I guess he could wake up in the morning and they could tell me he's got a chance, but I have not gotten that news yet," said Cassidy. "I doubt he'd play. Game 7, potential, with the three extra days, a possibility. But I doubt he'd play tomorrow."
Grzelcyk Skates, Too
Matt Grzelcyk took part in Saturday's practice, still donning a maroon non-contact jersey. The blue liner has missed the last three games after taking a hit to the head from St. Louis forward Oskar Sundqvist in Game 2.
Cassidy said following practice that Grzelcyk remains in protocol and has yet to be medically cleared for game action.
With the Bruins' power play 0 for 5 over the last two games, Cassidy made a tweak during Saturday's practice, switching out Jake DeBrusk for Marcus Johansson as the net-front presence on the first unit. Cassidy believes that Johansson can help Boston clean up its entries into the offensive zone.
"[Johansson's] a little bit more of a distributor," said Cassidy. "Jake's more of a net-front presence. I think they both recover pucks well. Marcus is good on entries, he's used to having it through the neutral zone. We had a few issues there the other day, so hopefully he gives us another option."
DeBrusk, meanwhile, had been struggling to find the back of the net until Game 5, when he ripped home a one-timer off a Torey Krug feed late in the third period. It was the winger's first goal since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.
"Finally something good happened and I started feeling back to normal," said DeBrusk, who took Johansson's place on PP2. "It wasn't necessarily enough, but that's what I'm gonna try to do is lean on that next game and play with that same intensity."
Video: DeBrusk talks the mindset going into Game 6
Saturday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Backes/Karson Kuhlman
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Connor Clifton
Matt Grzelcyk - Steven Kampfer
Video: Carlo discusses upcoming Game 6