Bruins’ Chara to be re-evaluated, status for Game 5 unknown

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(UPDATE: Report: Bruins’ Chara has broken jaw)

It didn’t look menacing, per se, upon first glance.

Sure, the puck came off Brayden Schenn‘s stick, deflected up Zdeno Chara‘s and into the big man’s mouth/jaw area, but it looked as if the bloody mess could be sewn up with a few stitches.

Chara was forced out of the rest of the second period. That wasn’t all that surprising. Stitches would take some time. The blood would need to be cleaned up.

And with a full face shield attached to his Warrior lid, Chara returned with the rest of his Bruins teammates for the final frame. A minute passed, then two.

No shift for Chara.

Then a power play by the Blues, which would have normally seen Chara out there killing it off. Instead, he remained stapled to the visiting bench at Enterprise Center.

A power-play opportunity would come, but Chara would not.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

In fact, Chara played doorman on the far end of the Bruins bench next to Jaroslav Halak for the entirety of the remaining period, one that saw Ryan O'Reilly pot the eventual game-winner to send the game back to Boston tied 2-2.

“We clearly know he got a puck to the face, very uncomfortable, was advised not to return to play, had some stitches, probably some dental work in the near future,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the game. “He wanted to come out on the bench and be with his teammates, that’s why he was out there. I don’t know his status for Game 5.

“Obviously, when he gets back home he’ll have to be re-evaluated, see how he feels tomorrow, for starters. If we have something for you we’ll give it to you. So I can’t say whether he’ll play in Game 5 or not. No idea.”

His status is obviously a big concern, but so were the words “was advised not to return to play.

Cassidy addressed that, sort of.

“I don’t want to get in the nuts and bolts,” he said. “The conversation was short, he was getting worked on, we’re getting on the ice. The trainers come to me and said, ‘Done for the night.’ Question was asked, he’d like to sit with his teammates. If medically he’s able to do that, that’s fine.

“Typically these injuries, coaches, at least in our case, we follow the advice of the medical staff 100 percent of the time. And they did in this case, and they said it was OK for him to sit on the bench. That’s what took place and that’s about all I got on that.”

Perhaps being allowed to sit on the bench is a good sign.

The Bruins are already without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who was plastered from behind in the first period of Game 2 and has yet to return to the series.

Losing a second man from your top six would be a) bad luck and, b) bad news. Already missing Grzelcyk’s 16-plus minutes, losing Chara’s near-23 would be detrimental to their cause of a second Stanley Cup in eight years.

“If there’s any chance for him to be back, he’ll be back,” David Backes said. “If not, it’ll be next man up again. Whoever our next guy up is will have to fill that role admirably—and they’re big feet to fill.”

That could Steven Kampfer, among others. Cassidy said Kampfer would get the first look and they’d go from there.

“You never want to see that happen to anyone, especially someone on your team, someone who is such a big part of our team playing-wise, leadership-wise,” Charlie Coyle said. “It’s not an ideal situation but it’s how you respond to adversity and you see a lot of it during this time of year.”

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (stream here).


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.