It looked for a moment like Zdeno Chara would make a triumphant return.
The Boston Bruins defenseman took a puck to the face in the second period of Monday night's Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues that sent him bloodied to the dressing room. But Chara was back on the bench to start the third period wearing a new "fishbowl" visor to protect his face.
Did you think a little puck to the face was going to keep Zdeno out?
— #StanleyCup on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 4, 2019
The Bruins captain never took the ice, however, and with good reason. Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo admitted after Boston's 4-2 loss that Chara couldn't really speak as a result of his injury.
"Obviously his mouth has some blood and I don't know what's going on in there, but he can barely talk and he's out there supporting us," Carlo said.
Bruins forward Sean Kuraly confirmed as much in his postgame diary for NHL.com.
"I think it is tough for Zee to speak right now, that was the biggest thing," Kuraly wrote. "He didn't have to say a word, he was there for us, supporting us anyway."
Verbal communication on the ice is essential, especially for defensemen, so Chara would have been a liability if he indeed couldn't talk. But Carlo and his teammates still got a boost from just having the 6-foot-9 defenseman back on the bench.
"His leadership is on another level, especially during this final round that I've seen," Carlo added. "He's always there for us, he's been great communicating and just wants to be there to support us."
"It's unbelievable to see him out there supporting everyone," forward Marcus Johansson added. "It means a lot."
The Bruins have two days off before Thursday's Game 5, and with the Stanley Cup Final knotted at 2-2, they're hoping Chara can get healthy enough to both speak and play in a pivotal contest at TD Garden.
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