David Krejci also practiced with the team at TD Garden. It marked his first practice since November 20.
Both had been skating apart from the group with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides. They stayed back to continue their rehab while the Bruins went away on their four-game road trip out West.
David Warsofsky, who has been out since suffering a groin injury on November 6, was also on the ice for practice. He had practiced once with the team before they headed on the road, only taking light contact during that skate.
Chara (PCL tear, knee) has missed the past 19 games. Krejci (undisclosed) has missed eight straight, and 14 of the past 16. Warsofsky (groin) has also been sidelined for the past 13 games.
They have all been cleared for practice, but have not been cleared for game action yet.
The Bruins next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at TD Garden.
"Right now, I can say I feel more optimistic about Zee right now, that he will [play]. I don't know about David," Head Coach Claude Julien said following Tuesday's practice.
"[Zdeno's] in good shape, he looked good today and you can see he's excited to get back," said Julien. "So that's your captain we're talking about here, so it's nothing that's surprising. It's something that he's always been that way and he's one of those guys that sits up there and hates watching his team play, so he's excited to have the opportunity to come back and he's worked really, really hard - you can tell."
"For a guy that hasn't played in a few months, he's out there and he looked pretty sharp."
While Julien is optimistic, he'll wait for word from the medical staff.
"I haven't been told anything yet about any of those guys. I'm just suspecting," said Julien. "I know Zee's really excited about wanting to play Thursday. I suspect that if he's excited, that there's probably going to be - hopefully - the medical staff clearing him to play, so I haven't been told that yet, but we're hoping that's the case. The other guys, I haven't been told any of that stuff either."
Whenever Chara makes his return, the Bruins will be happy to have him.
"We're excited to have him back soon, and hopefully that happens Thursday," said Julien.
Paille, Soderberg, Gagne Absent
The Bruins practiced with just 10 forwards on Tuesday, along with nine defensemen.
Daniel Paille and Carl Soderberg missed practice with what Julien called a "virus."
As a follow-up, not necessarily related to Paille and Soderberg, Julien was asked about the concern for mumps across the League.
"We took those precautions, even before we went out there. It was something we did, made sure everyone was tested and everyone was vaccinated who needed to be vaccinated," said Julien. "So we took all the precautions we needed to take when we went to Anaheim."
Simon Gagne was also absent from practice. Julien said he is "on a personal leave of absence right now. We don't know how long it's going to be."
With only 10 forwards, the Bruins had just three lines for practice. Loui Eriksson was skating on the right wing with Milan Lucic and David Krejci as a result.
"Three lines, that's it. Three lines today, that's it. I had to just throw guys together because we were short today," Julien said, when asked about the trio skating together.
The bench boss was asked further about trying out that line combination again, and if it was something that might stick.
"I really don't know yet. I guess we're trying to find some stability in our lines," said Julien. "Hard to answer - you might see [Loui] at times with them and maybe I'll stick with that line that's been good as well [with Seth Griffith], when everybody's healthy."
Haven't Seen the Last of Pastrnak
The Bruins were down an additional forward since David Pastrnak was assigned to the Providence Bruins on Monday and joined the P-B's on their trip to St. John's.
"I don't think you've seen the last of him…From the start of the season till now, he's made some huge strides," said Julien, who noted the improvements he made with the team and the areas he'll need to continue to work on to excel at the NHL level, like having the strength to cut to the inside.
"We want to develop this young player the right way. I can't say enough about him being 18 and being able to play that way," said Julien. "He's got a bright future, no doubt, and his future should be here."
McQuaid on the Mend
Adam McQuaid (broken thumb) remains sidelined. The defenseman missed eight straight games since sustaining his injury on November 18.
While he is still a ways off from returning, as he's only three weeks into his estimated six to eight weeks of recovery, he skated with Coach Whitesides before Tuesday's practice.
Practice Lineup 12/9
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Loui Eriksson
Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Gray: Matt Fraser - Gregory Campbell - Chris Kelly
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg