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Stanley Cup Final

Bruins expect Chara to be ready for Stanley Cup Final

Extended layoff between games should help defenseman who has undisclosed injury

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins expect that 10 days off between games will be enough time for defenseman Zdeno Chara to recover from his undisclosed injury and be in the lineup for the start of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Bruins will face either the San Jose Sharks or St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of the Final at TD Garden on May 27. The Blues have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final and will play Game 6 Tuesday at Enterprise Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).

Chara missed the Bruins' 4-0 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Bruins clinched a sweep of the series and advanced to the Cup Final for the first time since 2013.

 

[RELATED: How Bruins got to 2019 Stanley Cup Final]

 

"We have a lot of time to make the absolute right decision to give him the proper time to get over something that's been nagging him. And we'll cross our fingers that will be the case. But we're confident it will be," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Saturday.

However, he didn't want to make any guarantees about Chara's status.

"I'm not living in how or where [Chara] feels. I expect he'll be fine," Sweeney said. "But I'm not going to sit here and make a proclamation in terms of promises. I do believe that time will be used effectively and he'll be fine. But sometimes those are out of your control."

Without Chara in its lineup for a Stanley Cup Playoff game for the first time since April 16, 2011, Boston relied on its depth to get past Carolina. 

John Moore played for the first time since April 23 and had 11:48 ice time, including 1:32 on the penalty-kill. Matt Grzelcyk replaced Chara on a defense pair with Charlie McAvoy and skated 16:10. Torey Krug played 27:00, his most ice time in a non-overtime game this postseason.

"[Grzelcyk's] a great example, to go up and play in a shutdown role [for] periods of a game in a closeout [game] of a series," Sweeney said. "And then [we] back it off and penalty kill in situations with Johnny Moore. You know Torey stepping up to play 27 minutes the other night and where he was a year ago, where he is now, playing in all situations, says a lot for Torey's own stuff. And those are things that our coaches every day try to get our players to recognize."

It doesn't sound like the Bruins will be getting help from defenseman Kevan Miller, who sustained a lower-body injury April 4 at the Minnesota Wild and hasn't played since. Forward Chris Wagner, who injured his arm blocking a Justin Faulk shot in Game 3 against the Hurricanes and missed Game 4, also seems doubtful to return to the lineup.

"I don't expect Kevan," Sweeney said. "Had a little bit of a setback, so I don't expect him to be ready to play.

"And I would be very surprised if Chris is ready to play, but we'll wait and see where that goes."

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