ST. LOUIS — Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara says he's fine. At least that's what it sounded like as the 42-year-old gritted through answering a few questions from reporters Saturday in Enterprise Center.
The Bruins captain would not answer a direct inquiry if he has a broken jaw after being struck by a Brayden Schenn shot in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final. Chara made a heroic return for Game 5 on Thursday but the Bruins lost, 2-1, to fall behind in the series with the St. Louis Blues, 3-2. The Blues can win their first Cup with a victory in Game 6 here Sunday night.
Chara's mouth barely moved as he spoke for the first time since the injury and he was not able to project much volume in the NHL's official interview room for the series.
"I feel fine playing," Chara said. "Obviously, it was a quick turnaround after last game here, but I felt fine. I think there are no limitations. I'm still able to play. I’m trying to always eat as much as I can and keep my nutrition up and fluids up."
The only expansive answer Chara gave was when he was asked about the motivation coach Bruce Cassidy might try to bring to his players to keep the series alive, much as they did in Game 6 of the opening round in Toronto.
"Obviously, it’s a big game, but I think it’s going to be a shared responsibility between the coaching staff and all of us to do a share of talking and make sure that we are where we need to be," Chara said. "The right mindset and the preparation before the game. I don’t think it’s just a specific speech or just a player that has to do all the talking. I think we’ve been really good as a team the whole season to talk before the games and it’s just preparation as usual.”
Chara played 16 minutes and 42 seconds in Game 5 as the Bruins used seven defensemen and closely monitored his ice time. They'll likely push the envelope with him a little more Sunday.
"He's our leader, the toughest guy out there," Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said. "He doesn't take any games off unless it's impossible to play. It's an emotional lift for all of us. He’s the backbone of the defense, so it’s a great help for us to have him back there.”