WILMINGTON, Mass. — Zdeno Chara missed practice Monday. He's likely to be out of the lineup Tuesday night against Los Angeles. But the Bruins know they are fortunate that their captain and defensive leader shouldn't be out too much longer than that.
Chara suffered a lower-body injury Saturday night in Columbus when he got tangled up with Blue Jackets forward Antoine Vermette late in the second period. Chara appeared to bend his left knee awkwardly and did not return to the game, but has improved since then.
"He is better today than he was yesterday, so that's good news," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the club's workout at Ristuccia Arena on Monday.
Chara did not take the ice in Wilmington, but did work out off the ice and spoke with the media about the injury.
"[It's] good, better than I expected," Chara said. "The plan is to take a day at a time. You really can't put a timeframe on it. It's basically how it feels, and it feels better than I expected and we go from there."
Chara would not completely rule out playing Tuesday, but admitted it was unlikely he would be able to return that quickly. Julien also is counting on having Chara available against the Kings.
"The only thing we know right now is that he's day to day," Julien said. "We can't do any better than that. That's the situation he's in. He's improved. The way our group, the medical staff, is looking at it right now is he's day to day. [He's] obviously pretty questionable for [Tuesday], even I'd say doubtful. But after that, that's what day to day is all about."
Chara has missed just 12 games since coming to Boston in 2006, and isn't looking to add any more to that number than absolutely necessary.
"I don't want to miss any games," Chara said. "I want to play as much as I can and if possible play all the games. Nobody wants to miss games. It's something I take a lot of pride in. Anytime I can play, I play, through injuries or sickness or whatever the thing is. But you also want to be smart and don't do anything that can cause serious problems or things that can hurt you in the future."
Chara knows he's already been fortunate not to suffer a more serious injury on the play, and admitted he was initially worried that the prognosis would be worse.
"Every time you feel a little pain, you worry that it might be more serious," Chara said. "After everything calms down you just wait. During the game there's a lot of emotions involved and adrenaline. Once you calm down, then you really know when you sleep on it and the next day, that's the biggest thing. And so far it's been really good.
"It's something I'm pleased with so far," Chara added of the progress since Saturday. "Obviously each day we evaluate and go from there."
Chara is one of the top conditioned athletes in all of sports. His fanatical devotion to fitness likely helped him minimize the severity of this injury, though Chara knows that no one is immune from injury in a sport as intense as hockey.
"Sometimes it does help," Chara said of his conditioning. "Sometimes it's just a question of luck. It doesn't matter. You can be the best fit guy in the league and you're still going to get hurt. It's just the way it is. The game is played at such speed and physical level that anybody can get hurt."
For now, Chara is just glad that this injury shouldn't keep him out for too long, though he's uncertain exactly when he'll be able to return.
"There's no timeframe for when I'm going to be coming back, but most likely I won't be playing [Tuesday]," Chara said. "That's as far as I can tell you right now. Honestly it's in the stage where we can't talk about anything further than 24 hours."