For the Boston Bruins, things could not have gone worse in Game 4. Boston collapsed in the third period and got vastly outplayed by a St. Louis team desperate to tie the 2019 Stanley Cup Final on home ice. The Blues succeeded, as Ryan O’Reilly scored his second goal of the night to break a 2-2 tie en route to St. Louis’ 4-2 victory.
The series has now shifted back to Boston, while the landscape on the ice has shifted in a big way as well. Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara blocked a shot off the stick of St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn mere minutes into the second period. The shot rode up the shaft of the Slovakian’s stick and caught him in the jaw. Chara returned to the bench in the third period, but did not play a shift in the decisive final frame.
The captain sat there on the Boston bench, unable to play, in hopes of inspiring his teammates. Bruin fans prepared for the worst but hoped for the best when it came to the inevitable Chara news update. Unfortunately, reality has provided the Bruins with the worst possible outcome. As per sources, Chara has suffered a broken jaw and his season is in jeopardy.
Even with the captain in considerable pain, unable to play or help his team on the ice, Chara exhibited the toughness and grit one comes to expect from a hockey player.
But why? Why sit on the bench when you cannot play? Bruce Cassidy, a former NHL’er himself, was quite blunt when asked. “It’s the Stanley Cup. That’s it. I don’t have a better answer for you” quipped the Boston coach.
“I think I know where you are going. I’ve been in this long enough that I suspect for every player it’s to get their name on the Stanley Cup. It’s that simple. They don’t want to let their teammates down” continued Cassidy. Chara, in an extremely uncomfortable and painful spot, certainly did not let his teammates down on Monday. Although the Bruins fell short, Chara did everything he could to help push them over the finish line.
Not everyone will agree that what Chara did was tough or even smart. Some people will argue that what Chara did on Monday night was unwise. Although the risk is small, what happens if an errant puck finds its way to the bench and strikes the captain for the second time? Some will say it is just a sport, and there is no need to deal with that pain when you can get help immediately.
What Chara did on Monday night wasn’t enough to push the Bruins in the third period, but it is an image that will stick with this team the rest of the way. In the words of Cassidy, at this time of year, you have a “tight team” you’re playing with. The leader of that tight team refused to back down on Monday night. Now, with a broken jaw and his season likely over, the leader will become the rallying point of a team with no room to back down.