Bruins’ Chara was more than just brave in Game 5


Making it to another Stanley Cup Final at age 42 already cemented Zdeno Chara‘s legacy as one of the all-time great Boston Bruins, but playing through Game 5 only added to his mystique.

(Remarkably, this wasn’t even the only time he’s bounced from a rather gruesome, bloody injury during this series alone.)

Merely suiting up as the Bruins went with seven defensemen and 11 forwards would have been enough for Chara to have a Willis Reed-style inspirational moment, and his courage was certainly noted by the fans in Boston:

Chara’s Game 5 differs from Willis Reed surprising the Knicks and Lakers in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals in two key ways. The one Chara is least happy about is that, while the Knicks won, his Bruins fell 2-1 to the Blues, who took a 3-2 series lead.

The other is that, while Reed’s return drew mythical status, his actual impact was overstated, as he merely sank two shots. Chara, meanwhile, put together the sort of performance that means he wasn’t just a token presence.

Chara logged 16:42 TOI in Game 5, including 1:21 on the penalty kill. During the nearly 17 minutes of game time, Chara delivered four hits, blocked three shots, fired two shots on goal, and earned a takeaway. Those aren’t exactly the stats of a passive observer.

Maybe more remarkably, Chara’s possession stats were strong; “The Big Z” was actually above 50 percent in stats like Corsi For for the first time since the Blue Jackets series in Round 2, according to Natural Stat Trick’s game logs.

Now, sure, you can nitpick if you’d like.

Chara did have a -1 rating in Game 5. It’s also fair to argue that his numbers, like those of other Bruins’ skaters, were likely inflated by how dominant Boston was at times on Thursday, and that the Blues never trailed.

But, overall, it’s impressive stuff.

It could be tough to top, too. On Friday, Bruce Cassidy noted that there might be some “residual” effects for the Bruins’ defense, so Chara’s status could still be something to watch. It’s also unclear if Matt Grzelcyk might be able to return for Game 6.

And even if Chara does play again in Game 6, it’s possible that he might not play as well as he did in Game 5. Sometimes, when it comes to athlete’s fighting through injuries – not just being hurt, but actual injuries – they’ll ride some adrenaline through a game, and then hit a wall as the grind continues.

So, this is all something to watch, yet that Game 5 performance just adds to the myth of Chara, even if the Bruins couldn’t manage a win.

Game 6 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday (NBC; stream here).


James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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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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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

caufield surgery
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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

matty beniers
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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.