Almost a full forty minutes before the Boston Bruins took to the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning, Zdeno Chara was skating along with Steven Kampfer under the instruction of skills coach Kim Brandvold. The hulking Boston captain did numerous drills, with some handling the puck and others geared towards working on agility and conditioning, during the roughly 35 minute on-ice session.
Chara looked good, not wearing a non-contact jersey and appearing to go at full-speed during the session. After missing Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, it appeared Chara was ready to return to practice for the Bruins as they hit the ice for the first time after winning the Eastern Conference on Thursday. When the main group took to the ice, however, Chara was not present.
Chara, Chris Wagner and Kevan Miller, who suffered a setback in his recovery according to GM Don Sweeney, were not surprisingly missing from the practice. Joining them? David Krejci, who has been terrific all postseason for the Black and Gold.
Bruce Cassidy met with the media after practice and gave an update on each of his injured players, starting with the gritty Miller. Miller has yet to play in these playoffs but the hope was he’d be good to go for the start of this series. As Sweeney said yesterday, that won’t be happening after a setback. “I feel terrible for him, to be honest with you. He’s had a tough year” admitted Boston’s coach.
“I hate to use that expression, it’s part of the business” Cassidy continued, “But it is, guys getting hurt, but I feel like, like I said I feel real bad.” Cassidy mentioned how good of a teammate Miller is and how he’s still always around the guys, but when you aren’t playing and you aren’t contributing on the ice, Cassidy admits that a player can feel on the outside.
The vibe of Miller’s update wasn’t good, and it doesn’t sound like he’s close to a return.
Wagner, meanwhile, didn’t finish the series against Carolina after leaving with an injury in Game 3 and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be back anytime soon. “I saw him this morning, he’s in good spirits” Cassidy began as he updated the media on Wagner. “Clearly he’s going to be out for a while, I don’t know if he’s going to be available to us” continued Cassidy, who made sure to mention “He’s certainly not gonna practice tomorrow or the next day.”
On Krejci, who Sweeney admitted didn’t like to practice on Saturday, Cassidy called it a “maintenance day” and didn’t seem concerned in the least. Good news for Bruin fans.
The big update came on Zdeno Chara, who Cassidy is hopeful will return soon. “We’ll see if they’ll be ready tomorrow” Cassidy said when talking about Chara and Kampfer. “We’ve kind of set it up where I don’t think we’re gonna skate Tuesday, so if Z doesn’t (go tomorrow) then we’ll look at Wednesday.
“With him we don’t wanna push it. I know he’s a workhorse and wants to get back in with the group as quickly as possible, but that’s the update” finished Cassidy. The Bruins are taking a cautious approach with their captain, which is a smart move considering his age and the miles on his tires this season. It certainly sounded like, while Chara could go tomorrow, Cassidy seems resigned to the fact his captain will likely be returning in some capacity on Wednesday.
Outside of injury updates, Cassidy talked about the “quirkiness” of preparing for two teams right now. They’ve already started prep work on both the Blues and Sharks, and Cassidy joked that while they’ll have to throw half their work out, they’ll be well prepared to see the loser of the Western Conference next season.
Cassidy also told the media that while nothing is set in stone, the B’s could scrimmage at some point this week. Interestingly, Cassidy said a scrimmage, if it were to happen, would take place at night and that the Bruins would do their best to simulate a gameday experience for the players.