Stanley Cup Final: Zdeno Chara reportedly suffers broken jaw after taking puck to the face
Chara had to leave Game 4 after a puck struck the defenseman in the face
Zdeno Chara suffered a broken jaw during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, according to The Athletic's Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford.
That report surfaced Tuesday after the Bruins remained quiet on Chara's status. The 42-year-old defenseman exited the second period of Monday's Game 4 after being struck in the face with the a deflected shot. He returned to the Boston bench with a full facial shield in the third period but didn't play, suggesting that the damage was quite significant.
After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Chara was encouraged to sit out the rest of the game by the team's medical staff but that the defenseman wanted to at least be on the bench for moral support. Boston lost Game 4 by a final score of 4-2 and the Blues pulled even in the series 2-2.
On Tuesday, former New England Patriots tight end and WEEI radio host Christian Fauria said that Chara had broken his jaw and would likely be done for the remainder of the playoffs, citing an unnamed source. Rutherford later confirmed that it was indeed a broken jaw.
The Bruins have yet to release an official update and it's unknown if Chara can or will play in Game 5 (or beyond) but if he's not able to suit up over the next couple of games that could be a devastating blow to the Bruins' lineup.
The veteran defenseman may not be the total dominant shutdown force he once was but he's still a hugely important piece for this Boston team, both on the ice and on the bench. He's averaging nearly 22 minutes a night for the Bruins during this playoff run and has a 59 percent goal share when on the ice at five-on-five. His looming presence would be missed, especially considering the Bruins are already missing a left-shot defenseman in Matt Grzelcyk (concussion).
The drop-off is steep from Chara to whoever the Bruins would theoretically replace him with. Steven Kampfer could get the call, but if Bruce Cassidy wants to replace Chara's left hand shot, the only option is rookie Urho Vaakanainen. The skilled 20-year-old Finnish defenseman was a first-round pick in 2017 but he's only played two games at the NHL level -- both of them coming in October before he suffered a concussion and spent the rest of the year in the AHL.
Cassidy said on Tuesday that if both Chara and Grzelcyk can't go in Game 5, the team may consider dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen -- meaning both Kampfer and Vaakanainen could potentially be in the lineup.
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