BOSTON - Just over seven months ago, Zdeno Chara took the TD Garden ice for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with a broken jaw. It is the only evidence needed to show that Boston's captain does not enjoy watching hockey from afar.
To put it simply, if the 42-year-old can skate, he feels he can play.
So that's why on Thursday night his bosses took it upon themselves to shut him down.
Despite dealing with the painful aftereffects of yet another follow-up jaw procedure, Chara was prepared to play in the Bruins' contest against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden. But Boston coach Bruce Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney felt it was best to step in and have the blue liner take the proper time to let things settle down.
"We talked to him after [morning skate on Thursday] a bit about the danger of playing through what he's going through," said Cassidy. "He wants to play every game, but that was a decision made higher up that he should take the day off. He did begrudgingly but he wants to get back in there tomorrow and I believe he will be."
Video: Chara addresses media following practice on Friday
Chara practiced in full on Friday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena and agreed with his coach's assessment that he would likely be in the lineup for Saturday's contest against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"Good for the most part…I feel ready to go," said Chara, who is two games away from his 1,000th as a Bruin. "Obviously, I feel ready to play. I'm excited to play tomorrow."
Boston's longtime captain missed the final game before the Christmas break for a procedure that removed the hardware inserted to repair his broken jaw last June after it began to cause an infection. Chara missed just a single game and returned following the holiday, but discomfort began to set in prior to the Bruins' win in Nashville on Tuesday, prompting another procedure to clear up with Cassidy termed as some type of "abscess."
"Of course I want to play, but sometimes you have to listen to your body, listen to the doctors," said Chara. "I think the decision was made for the right reasons. Today is a new day and getting ready for tomorrow's game."
Chara hopes that this will be the final time he is forced to miss time because of his jaw.
"It's very unfortunate," said Chara. "Sometimes these things happen for whatever reasons. This one came out of nowhere on the morning of the Nashville game. Right away we were kind of taking precautionary actions and ended up monitoring it closely. That's where it's at right now."
Video: Cassidy talks with media following Friday's practice
Fourth Line Finding It
During Thursday night's first period, David Pastrnak positioned himself in the slot and waited for his linemates to get him the puck. As his left wing and center did the dirty work, the 23-year-old sharpshooter positioned himself perfectly in the slot as he has on so many occasions this season.
But this time, it wasn't Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron riding alongside their All-Star winger.
With Chris Wagner pulled from the game by the NHL concussion spotter, Pastrnak took his place on Boston's fourth line, riding with Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom for a shift. It ended up working out just fine for the Black & Gold.
Not only because Pastrnak is the league's leading goal scorer - he now has 35 after Thursday night's hat trick - but also the strong work of Kuraly and Nordstrom during what was one of their best games of the season.
Both players picked up an assist on Pastrnak's first tally of the night, while Wagner returned and landed a game-high seven shots on goal in what Cassidy termed the winger's "best offensive game of the season."
And while the trio did not register a goal - Wagner actually finished a minus-2 - it was the continuation of an upward trend for Boston's fourth line, as it looks to regain the magic it had during last year's run to the Cup Final.
"First of all, they're typically out there against a good offensive line, so right away, the next line over the boards is not having to deal with an attack-oriented line," said Cassidy. "In general, it builds momentum for us, especially if the line change is clean. They punt it out; we're on the ice getting going back with some transition before they're set, so I think it just rolls us into a more offensive game when they're on.
"We've said that all along that what they leave is just as important as what they accomplish for us, so if they can accomplish some O-zone time and then leave us with a good puck getting back on the attack, then they've really done their job.
"I thought they got a little unfortunate [on Thursday night]. They were on the ice for a couple of goals against where our D got beat one-on-one where they did a really good job. Didn't show up in the scoresheet in the plus-minus, but one of our better lines tonight."
Wagner did get on the scoresheet on Tuesday night in Nashville after a Par Lindholm shot deflected in off his backside for his fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 7. Kuraly, meanwhile, has picked up five assists over his last nine games and Nordstrom - who missed the Nashville game with an illness - has a goal and an assist in his last four contests.
"Sean was flying around the puck, Nordy was fore-checking and Wags was just doing his thing," said Pastrnak. "He had seven shots, so they could easily come up with a couple goals, too, so next game might be their game…they've been together for a while. They have chemistry and when they play like this, they are extremely strong on the puck and they create a lot of chances and turnovers. They had a hell of a game today."
Video: WPG@BOS: Pastrnak buries Nordstrom's pass to tie game
Friday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie/David Backes
Joakim Nordstrom/Par Lindholm - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk
Video: Bergeron talks about upcoming game with NYI