2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Zdeno Chara’s presence looms large both on bench and in Cup Final — with availability uncertain for Game 5

(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS — The prognosis was not good for Zdeno Chara, still undergoing treatment by Boston’s medical staff, after taking a deflected puck to the mouth during the middle stanza of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Spitting out blood as he exited the ice at Enterprise Center, Chara’s night was done, with Boston forced to roll out with five defensemen for the second time in three games against the St. Louis Blues.

Any protests by the 42-year-old B’s captain to lace up his skates for the third period were going to fall on deaf ears. But the veteran blueliner did have one request during his brief exchange with Bruce Cassidy.

“Question was asked, he’d like to sit with his teammates,” Cassidy said. "If medically he’s able to do that, that’s fine. Typically these injuries, coaches, at least in our case, we follow the advice of the medical staff 100 percent of the time. And they did in this case, and they said it was okay for him to sit on the bench.”

Much like Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final — in which an injured Chara joined his teammates out on the ice to celebrate a series sweep — the 6-foot-9 skater continued to cast a large shadow even when he’s unable to take to the ice.

Donning a fishbowl helmet, Chara remained by his teammates' side for the final 20 minutes of regulation — providing whatever words of encouragement he able to spit through his shattered maw, but altogether helpless to stop a desperate Blues club from knotting the series up at 2-2 off of a 4-2 victory.

“(It) just shows his great leadership,” Brandon Carlo said of Chara’s presence on the bench. “He’s there to support the guys. Obviously his mouth has some blood, and I don’t know what’s going on in there, but he can barely talk and he’s out there supporting us. Just his leadership is on another level, especially during this final round that I’ve seen. He’s always there for us.”

The sight of Chara on the Bruins’ bench — stone-faced behind the shield affixed to his helmet — was a hard sight to see.

It could be even worse for the Bruins on Thursday night – especially if their captain is forced to view a pivotal Game 5 from atop Level 9 at TD Garden.