Tuukka Rask will miss defenseman Zdeno Chara if he is not ready to play for the Bruins' opener Thursday night.
Bob DeChiara/Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Nobody in the NHL relies on defenses more than goalies, and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has good reason to be concerned about the defense in front of him at the beginning of Boston's season. Bruins captain and star blue-liner Zdeno Chara was put on injured reserve retroactive to Sept. 24, and his status for the season opener Thursday remained unknown as of Thursday morning.
The Bruins know what it's like to not have Chara on the back-end for them. The 6-foot-9 defenseman missed a large chunk of the beginning of last season with a knee injury, and Rask said in a radio interview Wednesday that Chara's absence was startling.
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“I noticed it last year, how big of a deal he actually is out there,” Rask said on 98.5's Toucher & Rich show. “He’s such a big presence in front of that net, clearing pucks out, taking guys out and whatnot. When we lost him [last year], it was a huge blow. And I don’t think people realized how big of an influence he actually is until he was gone. We’re all hoping he gets back soon, because he’s a great part of our defense and team, inside the locker room and also on the ice.”
The Bruins are already thin on the blue line, as veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will miss the first couple of months of the season with a back injury. Aside from Chara, Seidenberg and young defenseman Torey Krug, the Bruins do not have much obvious talent on defense. Veteran Adam McQuaid will return for his seventh season with the Bruins this year, but he is hardly the reliable force that Chara can be for Boston.
Beyond those four players, the Bruins have a group of blue liners who have never had much success at the NHL level. The team will hope that players such as Zach Trotman, Matt Irwin, Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow can have breakthrough years this season.