BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy expected to have Zdeno Chara back at practice later this week. He was only off by a few days.

The Boston captain made his return to practice on Monday, as the Bruins skated at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton in preparation for next week’s start of the Stanley Cup Final. Chara was a late scratch from last Thursday’s clincher against the Carolina Hurricanes, and did not participate in Sunday’s practice after skating on his own prior to the session. Cassidy said Sunday that he wasn’t expecting Chara back at practice until Wednesday.

But Chara being Chara, he was back on the ice a few days ahead of schedule, skating in Boston’s top defensive pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy on Monday. Nothing is going to keep the 42-year-old iron man off the ice, not at this time of the year.

“The meaning is always very special. You never know,” Chara said of making it to his third Stanley Cup Final with the Bruins. “It’s a position that everybody wants to be in, it takes a lot to just get into the playoffs, as we saw. … You have to realize how special it is to be in the Finals and what it takes. At the same time, you haven’t accomplished anything or won anything. You have to make sure you stay the course, stay focus and stay committed to what’s ahead of you.”

Cassidy said Chara made it through the practice session with no issues, though the team will wait to see if there is any lingering soreness on Tuesday. Chara sounded confident that he would be back on the ice Wednesday when the Bruins practice again.

“It was a good practice, good pace,” he said. “I’m taking it one day at a time. [Tuesday] is an off day but I’ll be back at it on Wednesday.”

Chara said it wasn’t fun watching Boston’s Game 4 victory over the Hurricanes, but was happy to join his teammates on the ice to celebrate their sweep and pay his respect to Carolina. He looked ready to play when he took the ice in full gear for the celebration, but confirmed Monday that he did not watch the game that way.

Chara and his teammates have plenty of time to rest and heal up before the puck drops on the Stanley Cup Final next Monday in Boston. The Bruins will play the winner of the St. Louis Blues-San Jose Sharks series, with the Blues up 3-2 in the set.



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