Chara, DeBrusk, Miller come through return to the Bruins lineup okay


BOSTON – Obviously, the bad news for the Bruins was that they lost Thursday night to the New Jersey Devils and didn’t look very good doing it.

The good news is that the Bruins welcomed Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake DeBrusk back and all three made it through the 5-2 loss looking a little rusty, but healthy. It was to be expected for all three players, particularly for the Chara, 41, after he missed the past six weeks (19 games) following his collision with Carl Soderberg on Nov. 14.

Chara seemed to get better as the game went along while showing some signs of rust, but most important, he was healthy while racking up nearly 20 minutes of ice time and bringing some surliness back into the defensive zone.

“Not bad. One thing we can’t really practice is timing, that’s one thing you really miss the most," Chara said.

"Conditioning-wise, strength was fine, everything was good. Just to be in the right spot, that was kind of one thing that was kind of getting stuck in between. Other than that, I felt pretty good, to be honest with you for the first game in a long time.

“I thought as the game went on, I started feeling better being in those spots.”

Clearly, it was a bit of a challenge to introduce three players back into the lineup all at once, but all three showed signs of their familiar games. Whether it was Chara playing big and strong in the defensive zone, Miller laying the lumber on some big hits or DeBrusk attempting to attack the net with his combination of speed, power and skill. 

DeBrusk, in particular, knows that he's got even more to give than he did in Thursday's loss. 

“[I was] a little rusty to be honest. Decent starting off, I think I hit a crossbar but as it went along, there were a couple little detail things that I definitely need to clean up,” said DeBrusk, who had an assist, four shot attempts and a couple of hits in 17 minutes of ice time along with a rung crossbar that could have made a difference in the game early on. “It was obviously nice to get back out there but not the result we wanted by any means. You’ll get more reps and when you do that, you’ll feel better.”

Now that they’re healthy, it’s about getting into the flow as a cohesive unit and seeing exactly how good this Bruins team can be.

“It’s a good problem to have. You want your best players in there. They’re going to have to play sooner or later once they’re cleared to play, so it does change some of the D-pairs a little bit. We had to move Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] now that Charlie [McAvoy] injury, put Grizz back to the right,” said Bruce Cassidy. “That’s an adjustment for Grizz. He was there with Zee a little bit when Zee got hurt, took him a while to get used to being over there even though they’re NHL players.

“They’re playing against the other team’s good players. He’s on his off side, took a while. So, I guess there are a few minor things. But at the end of the day, they’re all good players going back in, so you’d hope it would make you better. That’s obviously going to be our goal for Saturday [against Buffalo].”

The even better news for the Bruins: No one got hurt Thursday night, so it will all about the full Black and Gold lineup jelling for the foreseeable future. 

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