The Boston Bruins are now 6-3-0 since losing Captain Zdeno Chara for an estimated four to six weeks with a knee injury. Before Wednesday night they were 6-1-0 and life without Chara wasn’t looking that bad judging solely by the win/loss column. But back to back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens Wednesday and Thursday night brought anybody who said, “Who needs Chara,” crashing back down to Earth.
Photo: Joe Makarski
Losing 6-1 to Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs and then 5-1 to Montreal the next night reminded us all that the Bruins are going to need as much help as they can get on the back end if they hope to make a run towards, and deep into, the post season. They are two of the better teams the B’s have run into since losing The Captain. Only four of the teams, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Minnesota have had winning records at the time they faced the Bruins. The Bruins managed to beat Toronto 4-1 in their first game sans Chara, which makes their 6-1 loss even more puzzling, and Ottawa more recently on Nov. 1st. The second meeting with Toronto and the games against Montreal and Minnesota Wild were all L’s.
The other four wins to go along with the defeat of the Senators and Leafs were against losing teams. They were the 12th place New Jersey Devils, 13th place Florida Panthers, 13th place in West Edmonton Oilers and dead last in the East Buffalo Sabres. Along with Chara Torey Krug, David Warsofsky, David Krejci, and Kevin Miller all missed time during the last few weeks. More proof that having a soft schedule while some of your top players are injured is to your advantage. But it is also a bit worrisome that even with guys missing it took overtime to beat the new look Panthers and lowly Sabres. It is also worrisome that the "cakewalk" is over.
While a less than 100% Krug is back in the lineup, Miller and Warsofsky are still out and Krejci seems to still be dealing with some lingering issues and the Bruins need to figure out how to make their current roster work for them. Chara’s estimated return time gets him back at the end of November. Until then the B’s only play two bottom of the barrel teams, the two Metropolitan Division last place teams, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. The rest of the games are against teams at or near the tops of their respective divisions. Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Winnipeg, and Montreal make their first trip to the Garden this season.
If they don’t get any of those players back by the time December hits they could be in real trouble. The B’s make the West Coast Swing during the first week of December playing Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Arizona. The game against the Coyotes might seem like a welcome break against top talent but that will be their fourth game in six days, all on the road. That is a trip they won’t want to make shorthanded.