The Captain's Back In

Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:44 PM
Caryn Switaj  - BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com- The Bruins host the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at TD Garden for a New Year's Eve matchup, and Zdeno Chara will be in the lineup.

The Captain had missed Saturday's game in Ottawa due to an undisclosed injury that was termed "day-to-day."

"I think that, as long as you feel confident that you can help the team and play through it, then you have to play," Chara told reporters following the team's morning skate.

The Bruins played Saturday without Chara, but also without Dennis Seidneberg, who they lost to a season-ending ACL/MCL tear in his right knee, and without Dougie Hamilton, who remains out with a lower-body injury.

"Obviously we do miss some big guys but that’s just the way it is, you know?" said Chara. "And you can’t really control what’s going to happen as far as injuries go."

As for his injury, it's not necessarily something he needs to monitor more moving forward.

"I wouldn’t want to go out there and be kind of a weak link," he said. "I can still contribute and play my game."

As we've seen before, players in this sport often aren't fully healthy, with the amount of toughness and contact in the game.

"If you look at it, it is not always the case that you’re going to be 100 percent," said 'Big Zee.' "I mean, a lot of players go through that on every team probably and that’s just the way it is. You’re going to have to battle through some aches and pains but I think it’s pretty common in this sport, or any kind of sport."

Chara is the backbone of the back end. He logs big-time minutes, and provides big-time presence.

And the workhorse does it continuously by being in peak physical condition, even if the aches and pains will always be there.

"Yeah, I feel good. I’m trying to obviously take care of myself and be ready for every game," said Zee. "And whatever ice time I’m going to get and work hard and do my best."

"My strength and conditioning, I take very seriously."

Compensating Without Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg, along with his heavy play, expert positioning and warrior-like physicality, will be missed. There's no doubting that. It's a huge loss.

But still, without the defenseman for the rest of the season, the Bruins (as they have before) will find ways to get through.

"Some of those things you can’t really control and you just have to play like he would be in the lineup," said Chara. "It’s very unfortunate that we lost him but it’s a chance for other guys to step up and get more ice time and opportunities on different occasions."

Having Chara back in will certainly help, but it's not so much about always making up for the loss of Seidenberg specifically as it is every blueliner making sure he does his job.

"We’ve got six D’s in our lineup; we just have to use them properly. You got guys, [Adam] McQuaid is back, [Dougie] Hamilton is going to be back hopefully soon and we’ll be back to normal here; we’ll just have [Dennis] Seidenberg out of the lineup," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.

"We’ve been through that before with other players and we’ve always managed. You miss [Patrice] Bergeron for a whole year, you lost [Marc] Savard and I know those guys are forwards but those guys are top forwards and we still managed without those guys so we’ll do the same without Seids."

The best way to manage the situation is by getting commitment from the entire tam.

"It’s about playing your game," said Julien. "It’s just about playing your game and being at your best and you don’t replace guys like that; you just make sure you buckle down and play your game as best you can. And as a group, you hope if everybody does that, it kind of covers for that loss."

Miller Gets Another Opportunity

With Hamilton not back in the lineup yet, one blueliner who will get another opportunity for a larger role is Kevan Miller, called back up from Providence on December 30.

"I think he’s played really well when he’s been here and whether he’s here for the year or not, I think the call is going to be upper management to decide that. But I think there’s a pretty good chance we brought him up to stay for a while," said Julien.

"And I think it’s just a matter of him continuing to play the way he did. I thought he was a good player for us. When you lose a guy like Seidenberg, you want another guy who’s going to bring you some size and some strength and he brings that to the table."

"I thought his puck management was pretty good too. I think he’s here right now because he’s deserving of being here."

Prepping for Isles

While injury updates and conversations with the training and medical staff have been taking up much of Julien and his staff's time lately, there's also plenty of preparation, as always, for the opponent.

Last time out against the Islanders back on November 2 in New York, the Bruins suffered a 3-1 loss. While two months has passed, the Islanders (12-27-7) remain a team that can get the Bruins off their game if they use their speed and skill to turn the night into odd-man rushes.

"I think the biggest thing for me right now is our forecheck and our neutral zone forecheck as well," said Julien.

The Bruins ended up suffering the same fate in Ottawa on Saturday, allowing the Sens too much speed.

"When you look back at the last game, I thought Ottawa came out of their own end too easily, got some speed through the neutral zone and had some scoring chances off the rush. We just can’t do that against the Islanders," he added.

"I think we have to be better in that area tonight because they do have speed and they have skill up front. So we have to respect that part of it and I think that part of our game is going to be important for us.

Boston Projected Lineup

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith

Matt Fraser-Ryan Spooner-Nick Johnson

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Jordan Caron

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Matt Bartkowski-Kevan Miller

Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid

Starter: Tuukka Rask

Backup: Chad Johnson

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