BOSTON -- The half hour or so before the morning skate is when Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara typically heads for the hallway below the stands with his stick and a baseball and works on stickhandling and makes a few light passes against the brick wall.
That part of the game-day routine was the same for Chara on Tuesday, except he was wearing a large brace over his left knee and once he was done dangling the baseball he wasn't able to join his teammates for their skate in preparation for a game against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
It's been almost two weeks since Chara left the Bruins' lineup with a ligament tear in his left knee that he sustained against the New York Islanders. The original prognosis for Chara's return was four-to-six weeks from Oct. 23. Not much has changed since then.
"No, there is not a timeline right now," Chara said Tuesday while making his first remarks since the injury. "I wish I could tell you guys exactly when I'm going to return. But at this point really it's just such a slow process that who knows what the days are going to be."
Chara was injured when he made an open-ice hit on Islanders forward John Tavares. But after the hit, Chara stayed on the ice for another shift after a television timeout. Chara said he initially felt discomfort but not pain after the hit. Chara eventually left the game and did not return.
"I just went into the locker room to just check on a few things, but obviously found out there was more to it," said Chara, who had two goals and one assist in nine games this season.
As for how he feels right now, Chara would only say, "I feel all right." Although surgery has not been 100 percent ruled out, so far the Bruins and Chara are trying to get the captain back onto the ice without any procedures.
"Well we'll see," Chara said. "I mean it's always nice to be able to avoid surgery. So we'll see how it goes and obviously it was good news."
Including the three games he's missed this season so far, Chara has missed 11 games because of injury since he signed with the Bruins before the 2006-07 season. He has only missed 20 games in total. The 37-year-old hasn't spent much time in the press box over the years, but he knows he can use it as his classroom while he's out.
"You always can learn, playing and watching," Chara said. "I think it is always a much easier game from the top. But I don't think that you anytime are at the point where you should be thinking I know everything. The game is always changing, the situations are always kind of developing different. By watching you're probably realizing how you can play that game on the ice when you're on top. So obviously it's a much easier game from the top."
Before Chara was injured defenseman Kevan Miller had left the lineup with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Torey Krug has since gone down with a broken finger. The Bruins have been using three recent call-ups from the American Hockey League -- David Warsofsky, Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow -- to fill in lately. The Bruins are 2-1-0 since Chara left the lineup and have won their past two games.
"Well I think that we can always been better, but I think they've done a better job to be, especially the last two games, to be consistent and they played better for 60 minutes," Chara said.