Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be out of the lineup Monday night against the Caps, and instead will be right around the corner at Mass General Hospital, undergoing follow-up surgery related to the fractured jaw he sustained last June during the Stanley Cup Final.
According to Chara, 42, his jaw became infected in recent weeks, the result of bacteria festering around the plates and screws that were used to piece the jaw back together months earlier in the playoff series against St. Louis.
Doctors now will remove all the hardware from Chara’s jaw, ideally returning the future Hall-of-Famer to the lineup in full working order as early as Friday night in Buffalo. The Bruins begin a holiday break immediately after the Caps visit and will be off until they board their charter flight to Buffalo on Friday.
“The area where the surgery was done got infected, which is kind of rare, but it does happen,’’ Chara explained early Sunday afternoon, after participating in the club’s full 40-minute workout in Brighton. “The decision was made to avoid maybe further troubleshooting with that area, basically to remove all the plates and screws and clean it up.
“Instead of putting the plates in, they’re going to be taking the plates out.’’
Provided the Bruins don’t reach down to the Providence WannaBs, Chara’s absence will bring John Moore back into the backline rotation. Moore was a healthy scratch Saturday when the Bruins lost in OT, 4-3, to Nashville at the Garden. It was Boston’s eighth loss in the last 11 games (3-4-4).
Chara on Saturday finished with 19:31 in ice time, third among Boston blueliners, who were led by Charlie McAvoy (25:34) and Torey Krug (24:56).
Chara was felled in Game 4 of the Cup Final, the puck nailing him in the jaw at 3:07 of the second period. As Chara reached with his right arm and stick to disrupt Brayden Schenn’s sweeping wrist shot in the right wing faceoff circle, the puck fired off Chara’s stickblade and cracked his jaw, the 6-foot-9 behemoth falling to the ice with blood pouring from his mouth area.
According to Chara then, doctors used two plates, wires and screws to repair “multiple fractures’’ in his jaw. He returned to play in Game 5 and played for the remainder of the series, including the Blues’ Game 7 Cup clincher on Garden ice.
Chara, though uncertain of some specifics related to the medical procedure, said Sunday that the infection never caused a fever and he does not expect to have to remain overnight at the hospital following the surgery. Provided all goes as planned, he’ll be home in his downtown condominium with wife and children to celebrate a joyous family Christmas.
“Obviously it’s gong to be kind of challenging during Christmastime, especially with the kids,’’ said Chara. “We’ll see how sore or swelled up I’m going to be—that’s just the way it is. That’s kind of part of the job. We all accept that, so yeah, we’ll see.’’
Has dad warned the kids he might not be looking his best when finally back home for holiday?
“No, I don’t talk about that,’’ said a smiling Chara. “They’ve already seen me enough in their short lives…to understand it’s just part of my job that you come home and you have these bruises and bumps.’’