The Boston Bruins received some bad news Tuesday afternoon as it was revealed that Chara had suffered a broken jaw during game four of the Stanley Cup Final. Now the Bruins are dealt with the tall task of replacing his presence on the blue line. Cassidy has recently suggested that maybe the Bruins will use 7 defenseman in their game 5 lineup and drop to 11 forwards. The Bruins are undefeated in the Stanley Cup Final when they have 6 defenseman so this could be an interesting strategy from the bench boss.
Chara basically only played one period in the game four loss after he received a puck to the face off a shot early in the second period. Chara returned to the bench in the third sporting a face shield but he did not play and was only there for moral support. The Bruins were forced to play almost two full periods with 5 defenseman much like in game two when they lost Grzelcyk. So now the Bruins are down two left handed defenseman, so who can they use for game five?
Their most obvious choice becomes Steven Kampfer who has only played two games in the playoffs but did manage to score a goal in the last round against Carolina. Kampfer is a right shot though so it might be difficult for him to switch to the left side. One of the other options would be rookie defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. Vaakanainen is a left shot but he hasn’t played in the NHL since October and stepping into the heat of the Stanley Cup Final isn’t going to be an easy task. He’s a strong skater but did have injury history this year and suffered a concussion early on in his NHL career. However, Vaakanainen was practicing with the team this morning. These two being the most likely options but the dark horse could be Matt Grzelcyk.
Grzelcyk was on the ice this morning participating in practice but he was donning a non-contact jersey. Gryz has missed the past two games while dealing with a concussion suffered on the Sundqvuist hit. Cassidy did say as long as Gryz was cleared for game five that he would play. If the Bruins are lucky he’ll be cleared and able to suit up.
Replacing Chara is no easy task but the Bruins will do their best to continue their quest for the Cup without him. In practice this morning John Moore was taking top line rushes with Charlie McAvoy. Moore has looked strong since filling in for Gryz and hopefully he’s able to hold his own on that top unit. If the Bruins choose to use 7 defenseman my guess would be Backes would make his way out of the lineup since he plays the fewest minutes of all forwards every game. The Bruins and Blues continue their series tomorrow night in Boston.
-Tyler Smith (@TylerSmith4386)