Chara was hospitalized for dehydration Friday night, and sat out Saturday's tilt against the Montreal Canadiens. Many media types, especially Hockey Night in Canada hyped it up that this was a disaster for the Bruins.
They're right to an extent, but throughout the HNIC telecast, nobody mentioned the Canadiens have been without two of their top-four rearguards (Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges) for most of the season, and still found a way to win. The glass half full response would be that the situation is different, as Pierre Gauthier had time to replace bodies, but in playoff hockey a team has to be able to adjust and adapt. That didn't happen with the Bruins on Saturday.
There is no argument that Chara's absence is a big loss, but it should not rule the Bruins out, or make themselves think they are done. Without him, the Bruins had no big shot on the point, because we know Tomas Kaberle won't shoot, or his big body to throw opponents around and protect Tim Thomas.
Glenn Healy, one of HNIC's biggest fountains of misinformation, mentioned between periods that the Bruins loss of Chara, "gave the Canadiens a chance to say 'Hey, we have a chance tonight'." My guess is that Healy totally missed Game One, in which Chara played over 25 minutes, or the other four regular season meeting that the Canadiens won over Boston.
It's been argued on EOTP before that Chara makes a big difference when it comes to looking at Tim Thomas' goaltending stats, especially this season. Tonight's game showed those arguments to be right on the money. Thomas even gave credit to his captain for his record-setting season.
Right out the gate, Boston looked like a team in confusion. A fat Thomas rebound led to a Mike Cammalleri goal just 43 seconds into the game. If Chara is in the game, against the Canadiens top line, perhaps that goal doesn't happen.
The erratic and frustrated play continued not even two minutes later, after Dennis Seidenberg's late hit found him in the sin bin with an interference call. The call, and clearly correct, had Claude Julien more furious with the officials, and less focused on his team. That momentary loss of focus led to a Habs power play goal from Mathieu Darche.
This again was a good example of where Chara makes a difference. The key player was Tomas Plekanec who skated in front of Thomas, making some traffic in front of the Bruins goaltender. Chances are that Plekanec wouldn't even consider that, if No. 33 is there.
The home team did get some composure back as the period wound down and much like Game One the Bruins did manage to get momentum in the second period. Patrice Bergeron managed to solve Carey Price, when he skated in alone to score the Boston's first goal of the playoffs at 7:38.
The Canadiens gained their two-goal lead back just under 10-minutes later when Yannick Weber cashed another fat Thomas rebound off a Lars Eller shot. Much like the Canadiens first goal, the result was due to bad up-ice/cross-ice passing by the Bruins that led to a turnover.
There were several errors by the Bruins' defense that could have made this game much worse, notably a smart up-ice pass by James Wisniewski that led to a Plekanec breakaway. Without their captain, it was like nobody on the Bruins defense corps wanted to step up in his absence.
Despite Chara's physical presence, the Bruins did stick to their hitting style laying out 35 hits, and giving the TD Banknorth Garden something to cheer about.
P.K. Subban took the brunt of those, and has clearly managed to raise the ire of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Despite the beat down from the Bruins, Subban played his second straight game over 27 minutes.
The Canadiens reverted to the Jacques Martin shut down system for most of the final period, getting just three shots on goal in the last twenty minutes.
The real stat of interest was the Bruins eight blocked shots on the night to the Canadiens27. Boston did put more pressure on Price in front of the crease, but the Montreal defense did a good job of protecting their goalie. Price had 34 saves on the night.
It will be interesting to see whether of not coach Julien goes with Thomas in Game Three Monday night at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens home rink has not been a good environment for Thomas in his career, Then again, neither he nor Tuukka Rask had any success in Montreal, with the Bruins going 0-3 this season.
But goaltending will not be an issue if the Bruins cannot regroup, with or without their captain.
Stat du jour: In 26 playoff series down 2-0, the Bruins have won a ground total of zero.
Post game reaction from the Bruins camp at Stanley Cup of Chowder
Three Stars:1. Mike Cammalleri 2. Carey Price 3. Patrice Bergeron