Brad Marchand stated the obvious on Tuesday morning. At least, obvious to those who have seen the way Zdeno Chara carries himself on and off the ice.
Even after taking a deflected puck to the face and eventually exiting Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, Chara likely would have returned to the ice — fishbowl helmet and all — had it not been for some intervention from the Bruins’ medical staff.
“He's an absolute warrior,” Marchand said. “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.”
Chara might have been ruled out, but the 42-year-old defenseman remained affixed on the Bruins’ bench for the remainder of an eventual 4-2 loss in Game 4, offering words of encouragement (or whatever he could muster following his injury) to his teammates. It speaks volumes as to the type of leader that Chara is, but he may not have another chance to take in a game from ice level this postseason — especially if the injury news is as bad as appears to be for Boston’s captain.
Already without two regular starters on the blue line in Kevan Miller (out since April 4 with a lower-body injury) and Matt Grzelcyk (out since Game 2 of Cup Final while in concussion protocol), the Bruins’ D corps is in line for its most daunting task yet: Forced to soldier on and scrap together the final two wins needed to win the Stanley Cup — without their top-pairing defenseman and go-to penalty killer.
Per Christian Fauria of WEEI and later reported by other outlets, Chara suffered a broken jaw off of that deflected puck from a Brayden Schenn shot — putting his availability for the rest of the Stanley Cup Final in doubt.
It’s a brutal development for the Bruins — who are now locked into a best-of-three series against St. Louis, with Game 5 set for Thursday night at TD Garden. Boston will need to get creative, given the other injuries that have sapped some of its reserve talent on defense, but Bruce Cassidy and his staff do have a number of contingency plans in place when it comes to bracing the B’s D corps for a pivotal bout on home ice.
Let’s take a look at a couple of the options that Cassidy can go to if Chara is not given the green light for Game 5.