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Marchand Out with Concussion; Chara Getting Closer to Return

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTONBrad Marchand is out with a concussion, according to Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.

Julien updated reporters on the forward’s status following Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.

“Yeah, March suffered a concussion,” said Julien. “We’re going about it with the League’s protocol with concussions and his return will be dictated by how quickly he recovers…so we have no timetable for him.”

Marchand appeared to receive an inadvertent elbow to the head from Montreal’s Dale Weise with 5:24 left in the third period of Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens at TD Garden.

Weise was trying to corral a pass up the boards in the Bruins’ zone as Marchand skated in from the blueline and leaned in to hit Weise. Marchand slowly got himself to his feet, skated to the bench and was assisted down the tunnel.

With Marchand sidelined for Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, Brett Connolly looks to be sliding in with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson.

The trio practiced together on Sunday, with Eriksson moving to the left side and Connolly skating on the right wing. Chris Kelly moved to a line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes.

“We need everybody right now,” Julien said, shifting the focus away from Connolly being the sole player who needs to step up with Marchand sidelined. “There’s a lot of people that we need to get more out of it, if we’re going to battle our way out of this. This is where we need players to really step up.”

“That’s just one of the changes due to injury, but you know, we hope that we can have more guys just kind of pick up here and give us some help in different areas.”

Connolly, Spooner and Hayes hadn’t been able to generate much through their first two games as a line. While the switch comes based on need, an opportunity has been given to Connolly to prove he can handle the defensive responsibility of playing with Bergeron and Eriksson.

“Guys are given opportunities, doesn’t mean that they necessarily earned it — it’s that you’ve got confidence in them that they can help and then it’s up to them to take it over and show that we’ve made the right decision and prove that they do belong there,” said Julien. “I think the biggest thing for Brett is going to be to show it, versus worrying about us whether we made the right decision or not — he’s got to show us.”

“Obviously two good players I’m playing with,” said Connolly. “Obviously Bergy’s Bergy. So I’m excited — a good challenge, a good chance to get back on the right track. Not the first two games that we wanted, for the team and personally, so if I do get that opportunity, it will be a big challenge for sure.”

Irwin Waived; Chara Close to Return

Along with Marchand, defenseman Matt Irwin was also missing from the ice at Sunday’s practice. Julien said post-skate that Irwin had been placed on waivers.

“There are no decisions that are going to be made until we see whether he clears or not,” Julien said.

Irwin struggled in the Bruins’ first two games, collecting a minus-5 rating. The Bruins will find out Monday at noon whether he’s cleared.

Seven defensemen skated in Sunday’s practice, including Zdeno Chara, who could be making his season debut against the Lightning after being out two weeks due to an upper-body injury.

“I would say questionable there — as far as questionable, we haven’t made that decision yet,” said Julien. “I think it’s going to be done at some point with the medical staff and see if it warrants a go or not. You know, if he doesn’t, then it will still give him a few more days, so that decision will be made [on Monday].”

Pain tolerance isn’t an issue. The Bruins are being cautious. “It’s just a matter of you know, ‘Is he good to go?’ And ‘what’s the risk factor?’” said Julien.

With Chara out, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have taken on the brunt of the Captain’s minutes. Both have risen to the challenge. But while Krug can handle the workload, having Chara back will allow him to be placed in more situations that cater to his strengths, which flourish on the attack.

“We’re happy with how he’s handled it,” Julien said. “But we know we can get a better player out of Torey with different circumstances of games being taken care of by others.”

Working Through Growing Pains

The first two games — a 6-2 loss to Winnipeg and 4-2 loss to Montreal — haven’t exactly laid the foundation for the Bruins’ 2015-16 season.

“You know, we’re not the only team that’s 0-2 right now, so it’s not like we’re on our own here but at the same time, we keep working on trying to get our team better,” said Julien. “The schedule doesn’t get any easier with Tampa Bay coming in.”

The Lightning is among the elite, evidenced by last season's trip to the Final. They’re skilled, tough, move the puck, and play with a lot of fire power.

“So, respecting that and having the confidence to go out and execute your game plan as a team and make sure you keep getting better, giving yourself a chance to win is what’s going to be important,” said Julien.

Bruins President Cam Neely stressed during management’s season opening press conference that this would be a team that fans see improve as the season goes along. The growing pains have been apparent early on, whether from new players getting more comfortable, new lines forming chemistry or a new team finding its identity.

“Just stick with the system,” said Chris Kelly, of how to work through it. “We just need to have that trust that the system works and you’ve just got to go out there and execute it.”

“We’re working well together, we’re there for each other — there’s a lot of good things that you see in the first two games,” said Kelly. “I know it’s not the results we’re looking for, obviously, but the way that guys are playing for one another, the way that guys are supporting each other and just the way guys are conducting themselves on the bench, in the locker room, during the game, is very positive.”

Tampa Bay on Tap

The Bruins will try to get their first win of 2015-16 on Monday when they host the Lightning in a 1:00 p.m. ET matinee at TD Garden. Follow live updates on Twitter @NHLBruins for the latest on Chara’s status pregame and tune into the broadcast on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Practice Lineup Oct. 11 // Projected Lineup vs. Tampa Bay

Loui ErikssonPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly

Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak

Chris KellyRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes

Zac RinaldoMax Talbot/Joonas KemppainenTyler Randell

Zdeno CharaColin Miller

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid

Joe MorrowKevan Miller

Zach Trotman

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson

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