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Maple Leafs expect Bruins to be tough without Chara

by Mike Brophy

BRUINS (4-5-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (3-3-1)


TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins are down a man -- a big man -- but that will not alter the way they play when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman and captain, is out indefinitely with an injured knee, and along with the departures of Jarome Iginla, Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk, should in theory make them an easier team to play against.

Not so, said Bruins coach Claude Julien.

"Hitting is one thing, and it depends how hard you want to hit," Julien said. "You've just got to be physical. Sometimes being physical can be about eliminating a player from the puck and that's what we have to adapt to. We can continue to be a physical team or hard team to play against by eliminating or separating players from the puck."

The Maple Leafs, who are 1-3-0 at home, respect the Bruins, and even with Chara out of the lineup are expecting a tough game. Boston still has physical players Milan Lucic, Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid in the lineup.

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said he is preparing his team for a typical grinding game against the Bruins in spite of Chara's absence.

"I wouldn't expect they are going to change dramatically," Carlyle said. "Obviously when you lose a player like Chara on the back end it's a big hole, but I'm sure their coaching staff is challenging the rest of the hockey club to play 10 to 15 percent better than normal. They'll be asked to step up to cover for the loss of a player like that."

Toronto left wing James van Riemsdyk agreed.

"Usually when a team is missing a key guy everyone else tends to bring it a little more and they are that much more plugged in," van Riemsdyk said. "We know how good [Chara] is and how difficult it is to play against him, but they'll make adjustments to try to do what they can to be successful."

Maple Leafs right wing David Clarkson, who has been playing well after a trying first season in Toronto, echoed those sentiments. Clarkson recalled stretches when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils that star goalie Martin Brodeur was injured and the team took on a different look.

"I think every team goes through ups and downs and on any night you can find teams around the League that are missing their top players," Clarkson said. "The Bruins are a good hockey team and they are well-coached. Obviously it's tough losing a player like Chara, but at the end of the day it doesn't change their work ethic or the little things that they do so we have to be ready from the drop of the first puck."

Chara, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 2009, is a double threat in that he is capable of intimidating teams physically and also can also be a point producer. Not having to play against him could make life a little easier for those on the Maple Leafs charged with producing offense.

"I don't think I've ever played a game against Boston when he hasn't been out on the ice," Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul said. "He has been a pretty durable guy throughout his career. He'll be back, but I guess we have to enjoy [his absence] while it lasts."

Here are the projected lineups:


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith

Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne

Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Matt Bartkowski - Zach Trotman

Tuukka Rask

Niklas Svedberg

Scratched: Matt Fraser, Joe Morrow

Injured: Zdeno Chara (knee), Kevan Miller (shoulder)


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Daniel Winnik

Leo Komarov - Mike Santorelli - David Clarkson

Richard Panik - Peter Holland

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Stuart Percy - Roman Polak

Morgan Rielly - Jake Gardiner

Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Matt Frattin, Carter Ashton

Injured: David Booth (foot)

Status report: With Chara sidelined indefinitely the Bruins likely will insert Trotman into the lineup for his first game of the season. … Rask has played superbly against the team that drafted him, with a 9-2-0 record, 1.64 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in 13 games. … The Maple Leafs went with seven defensemen and 11 forwards against the New York Islanders on Tuesday and are expected to do the same against Boston.

Who's hot: Lucic has a goal and three assists in his past two games. ... Kelly and Krejci each have points in five consecutive games for Boston. … Kessel had two goals and three points against the Islanders.

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