BOSTON (CBS) — After three days of speculation regarding his playing status, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was indeed in uniform and on the ice for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Chara, who was the first Bruins skater to hit the ice for pregame warmups, was announced as a starter for Game 5 just minutes before puck drop, alongisde Charlie McAvoy, his usual defenive partner.
The top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and of course goaltender Tuukka Rask, made up the rest of the starting lineup for the Bruins.
Perhaps as a measure of caution against further injury to Chara, or as a means to offset limited playing time for Chara, the Bruins dressed Steven Kampfer as a seventh defenseman. Winger David Backes was a healthy scratch.
Chara’s status had been in question since Monday night, when he was struck in the face by a deflected puck early in the second period of Game 4 in St. Louis. Chara immediately fell to the ice while bleeding, and he received medical attention for the remainder of the second period. He returned to the bench in the third period, sporting a full face shield, but did not play as the Bruins lost.
Since then, it’s been reported that Chara suffered a broken jaw from the play. He did, however, hit the ice for the morning skate on Thursday, and head coach Bruce Cassidy said that Chara would be a game-time decision.
The 42-year-old Bruins captain was averaging 22:39 of ice time prior to skating just 8:23 in Game 4.
Chara did not speak with the media after that morning skate on Thursday, but he did issue the following statement to the Pro Hockey Writers Association: “At this time of the playoffs, everyone has injuries and there are challenges that you have to overcome to play. I’m no different than any player on either team.”