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Stanley Cup Final

Chara uncertain, Grzelcyk could return for Bruins in Game 5 of Cup Final

Captain sustained facial injury against Blues; defenseman remains in concussion protocol

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara's status for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) is uncertain, but defenseman Matt Grzelcyk could return.

Chara was injured on a shot from Blues forward Brayden Schenn that deflected off his stick and hit him in the mouth 3:07 into the second period of Boston's 4-2 loss in Game 4 on Monday that evened the best-of-7 series. He returned for the third period wearing a full, clear face shield, but did not play another shift.

"[Chara] facial injury, no update on him, give you a prognosis on him tomorrow," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after practice Wednesday. "That's probably the best I can give you right now. Obviously [Chara's] not here, didn't skate so that makes it a little more difficult for him. I've always said that, the guys that are skating are obviously a little closer."


[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blues Stanley Cup Final series coverage]


Grzelcyk, who sustained a concussion when he was boarded by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the first period of Game 2 on May 29, practiced with the Bruins for the first time since the injury.

"[Grzelcyk] skated today, red jersey, he's still in [concussion] protocol," Cassidy said. "When he gets cleared he'll be ready to go. Whether that's by tomorrow, can't tell you today."

Grzelcyk has not been cleared for contact. He skated in a pairing with rookie Urho Vaakanainen , the Bruins' eighth defenseman, and practiced with the second power-play unit.

Video: Zdeno Chara's status is currently unknown

"I'm feeling good," Grzelcyk said. "It's obviously nice to kind of join back with the team and get out there and do some reps on the ice. ... I'm just happy to be back out there on the ice and feeling a lot more like myself. Hopefully I get cleared to play and if I get the call I'll be ready."

John Moore took Chara's place to the left of Charlie McAvoy on the top pair during practice. Torey Krug skated with Brandon Carlo on the second pair and Steven Kampfer was next to Connor Clifton on the third.

Chara was not at TD Garden on Wednesday but was in touch via text message.

"So yeah I think we're sending him positive vibes and we're supporting him," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "And of course when you lose your captain in the last game, you try to step up and be good for him. And it's the same thing right now, we're all behind each other and all supportive of each other and that's why we're here."

Blues coach Craig Berube said preparation won't change based on Chara's availability.

"We've just got to be ready to go no matter if he's in or out," he said. "That team over there is very good. They're going to be hungry. They're going to be desperate. We've got to come with that desperation and hunger too and not worry about if Chara's playing or not. 

"We all know how tough Chara is. He's a warrior and stuff, so I wouldn't doubt it if he plays, but if he doesn't play, we've got to keep our focus and have the same game plan."

Moore replaced Grzelcyk the past two games and played 13:09 in Game 3 and 19:06 with three shots on goal in Game 4. He does not have a point in seven games this postseason.

"This time of year, there's no excuses," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said Tuesday. "You can't look at that. Missing a player or two, you got to come together, do whatever you can to make it work. They're not going to stop trying, so we have to do the same.

"[Chara is] an absolute warrior. I think if it wasn't for the doctor, he would have played that game. He's an absolute leader. Those things, you gain respect for him every single day with what he's willing to go through, be part of the group, lead this team. He's an incredible person." Staff Writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report


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