“He’s day-to-day, which is good news for us — that’s what I’ve been told, so that’s all I can say right now,” Julien said following practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday.
Chara left Thursday night’s preseason game at TD Garden against the New York Rangers within the first five minutes. The team announced during the first intermission that he had an upper-body injury and would not return to the game.
There are still two weeks of the preseason before the Bruins’ season opener on Oct. 8.
“It’s day-to-day — that’s all I’ve been told,” Julien reiterated, when asked about Chara being ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m not the doctor, obviously, but day-to-day is good news for me. I thought it might be worse [on Thursday] night.”
Chara’s short-term status is certainly good news, though it’s coupled with the news earlier this week that defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would be out approximately eight weeks after back surgery.
Seidenberg reported to camp with an upper-body injury and never took part in on-ice sessions. A decision was made to go forward with the lumbar microdiscectomy surgery to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation. Seidenberg's estimated recovery time makes him slated for a return in mid-November.
“It’s tough,” defenseman Torey Krug said of the team dealing with the back-to-back injuries. “I haven’t really talked too much about it with the other guys because it’s one of those things that if it happens, there’s nothing we can really do about it as individuals, but those are two leaders on our team, and specifically on our blueline and in our group.”
“They bring a lot to the table and they play valuable minutes. And in the locker room, they’re always talking, trying to learn more and also teach us younger guys lessons. So they’re two valuable pieces.”
“But we won’t sit here and dwell on it if we have to step up and play more minutes or whatever the case may be. But they’re definitely two important pieces.”
At the beginning of 2014-15, Chara was injured in the first month of the season, suffering a torn PCL in his left knee. It left a hole in the lineup that the Bruins had to fill by committee.
While injuries to both Chara and David Krejci, amid other factors, led to a difficult start out of the gate for the Bruins last year, that experience should prove useful.
During that time, Krug in particular was vocal about the entire defense corps stepping up. They were also without Kevan Miller early in the season, and a young defense had to fill the void, with help from the entire team.
“Yeah, that’s kind of what I was saying — we like to think to think our system and the way that we carry ourselves is greater than just one individual player,” said Krug. “I know we have very important players on our team. You can go down the list and name what they bring to our team and the value that they have, but we have a great system in place, and we trust it, and we’ll just keep moving on from there and see what happens.”
“Defensively, we’re still using that as our foundation, and the type of team that we have been in the past has been really solid in our own zone, and we don’t plan on changing that at all,” he said. “So that’s a very important part of our system.”
That is the mantra from everyone around the team, and it always has been — injuries or not.
“I think everybody, from the coaching staff to players to upper management, everybody seems happy with the way we’ve been defending,” said Julien.
The Bruins did make tweaks to their system, though, beyond their own blueline and into the attacking zone.
The tweaked style plays into the strengths of the defenders who will now get more opportunities to showcase their games — like Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman and even Krug in an expanded role.
“Now with maybe a couple of question marks, it definitely will raise the battle level of each individual guy,” said Krug. “We have a great group of guys coming to the rink every day willing to learn, and really excited about a great opportunity. That opportunity is there; we’ll see who steps up. It’s a great group of guys to be a part of, for sure.”
“Right now, that’s our goal, is just to go out every day and compete,” said Trotman. “We just need to stick to that, and like I said, we have good players in this locker room, so if we’re competing and sticking to our gameplan, we’re going to have good results.”
“Someone’s going to have to fill that void," Trotman said. "Guys are going to have to step up, and we’ll fill in for each other and we’ll keep competing.”
As of Friday afternoon, the Bruins’ training camp roster included the following defensemen (besides Chara and Seidenberg): Linus Arnesson, Chris Breen, Brandon Carlo, Chris Casto, Tommy Cross, Matt Irwin, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, Ben Youds and Jakub Zboril.
With a spot at main camp, every player still has an opportunity in front of him.
“We’ve got two guys right now that got injured so no doubt, it gives other guys a better look and a longer look,” said Julien. “And at the end of it, we’ll have to see where we stand.”
“At the same time, you’re hoping to have at least one of them back. [Seidenberg] we know is probably an eight week situation, so we’ll work through it.”