Bruce Cassidy’s confidence in Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara certainly hasn’t wavered.
The Bruins head coach explained how Chara, like many others around the league, might still be trying to find his groove in the NHL bubble after an extended layoff, but he’s optimistic the defenseman is coming along each day he takes the ice.
“Well, he’s not exactly where he wants to be, like a lot of guys. I think, listen, there’s going to be teams on a broader scope of that that are going to do better than others because they prepared themselves during the pause, they got the full training camp, etc. to get themselves going. And every team probably has a pocket full of players that weren’t up to speed as much as others. Z will always give you that. He was working out, he’s a machine,” Cassidy told reporters in a video conference Friday, prior to the team’s Game 3 clash against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
“So, he knows he needs to put the work in and he did on the ice again today,” Cassidy continued. “I thought he was better yesterday, and has progressively got better each game. There’s a lot of speed in the game right now because everyone is fresh, but those bigger bodies, as you know over the years, come in handy as the playoffs go along, and the pace slows down a little bit and the inside ice becomes a little bit harder to get and the will to get there, etc. and that’s where (Chara) becomes a force. We know that.”
Cassidy added that the way the Bruins have played in the bubble, and recently in their two playoffs games, haven’t played to Chara’s strengths. He’s hopeful that will change.
“Z’s game is progressing. He’s giving us what he’s got,” Cassidy said. “… It’d be nice to have a lead for a longer period of time, that’s when he plays his best. We haven’t done much of that unfortunately. That’s an area of our game where we to get better so guys like the fourth line, guys like Z and (Brandon) Carlo, that are great defenders and hard to get inside, they shine more in those circumstances, not when you’re playing from behind. So, it’s a bit of a factor here as well.”
With the series tied one game apiece, the Bruins will take on the Canes for Game 3 on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET. Cassidy is expecting another strong showing from the veteran blue liner.
“I anticipate he’ll even get better tomorrow, be ready to go. And look, (Andrei) Svechnikov had a good day yesterday against us, so we got to make sure we have a big body on him tomorrow… That’s a good matchup for (Chara), and hopefully he’s up for it.”