Chara’s Stanley Cup Status Uncertain as Bruins Odds Tighten
If all it is is a broken jaw, then I’d put the chances at 100 percent that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara plays the critical Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night against St. Louis in Boston.
There’s no chance - no chance - that a guy like Chara is going to sit out such a monumental game with a little thing like a broken jaw. “Wire the thing up, put the thick facial shield on and let me get out there with the boys.”
I guarantee you that’s the kind of thing Chara has been telling team doctors since he was forced out of Game 4 Monday night after taking a puck to the face in the second period. Chara, at 42 the NHL’s second-oldest player to Matt Cullen, did wear a facial shield and return to the Bruins’ bench after the injury.
But, he never got off the bench, as apparently he was not cleared to return by the doctors.
Will Chara Play in Game 5 Against the Blues?
These are the Stanley Cup Finals, so we’re not going to get much in detail on injured players’ status game-to-game. On Tuesday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters he didn’t know whether Chara would be able to play or not.
The only way I can see Chara not playing is if doctors suspect he was/is concussed from the puck to the face. Concussions are where teams have to draw the line nowadays with players playing hurt. In the old days? They’d have said Chara got his bell rung and he’d have played - maybe to his long-term detriment, which is why teams won’t let players do that anymore.
But there are plenty of occasions in which players have played through a broken jaw. Jeremy Roenick played Game 7 of a first-round series with Phoenix in 1999, 17 days after his jaw was broken in four places by an elbow from Dallas’ Derian Hatcher - which earned him a seven-game suspension.
The normal recuperation time for a broken jaw is usually six weeks. If the jaw is broken in too many places - and we don’t even know officially if it’s a broken jaw or not - and significant surgery is required, then Chara may have the decision to play or not taken out of his hands by the docs.
But, as teammate Brad Marchand told NESN on Tuesday:
“He's an absolute warrior. I think if it wasn't for the doctor, he would have played that game. He's an absolute leader.”
Bruins Odds Dip After Game 4 Loss
Chara or no Chara, the fact is that the Bruins’ odds of winning the Cup went down again after that loss Tuesday. At the start of the series, Boston was a -165 favorite to win at 888Sport, with the Blues at +230. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Bruins were down to -155, while the Blues at +130.
If NHL betting fans are only are placing their Cup bets for the first time now, your payout either way just got shorter. The Bruins have already been without minutes-munching defenseman Matt Grzelcyk since he was hurt in Game 2 (Cassidy said Grzelcyk “could” return still in the series) and if Chara is lost, that obviously hurts Boston’s chances even more.
Grzelcyk’s injury happened in the first period of Game 3, so in essence the Bruins have been without him for nearly three full games - and Boston has lost two of them.
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Some Relevant Stanley Cup Betting Trends to Consider
A few other interesting facts about Cup Finals history, which may or may not influence your betting decisions, courtesy of NHL public relations:
- This marks the 26th time the Final has been tied at 2-2 after four games under the best-of-seven format (since 1939). The team that tied the series has gone on to win the Cup in 10 of the previous 25 instances, including three of the last five occasions (2015, 2013 and 2011).
- When a best-of-seven series is tied at two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 210-58 (78.4%), including a 5-3 mark in the 2019 playoffs and 18-7 mark in the Stanley Cup Final (72.0%).
- Boston holds an all-time series record of 14-3 when winning Game 5 after being tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven, while St. Louis is 8-1. The Bruins have been tied 2-2 in the Final on four previous occasions, losing Game 5 each time - but winning the Cup once (2011 vs. VAN). The Blues will play a Game 5 for the first time ever in the Stanley Cup Final.
Regardless of the Game 5 outcome, the Bruins own an all-time series record of 18-16 (.529) when a best-of-seven is tied after four games; the Blues are 10-15 (.400) in that scenario.
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About the Author
Adrian Dater writes about the NHL for Bookies.com. The longtime NHL writer spent 25 years at The Denver Post, 20 of which as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche. He also covered the Avs for BSN Denver and was the lead NHL columnist with Bleacher Report from 2013-16. Dater has written six books, including the best-selling hockey book "Blood Feud: Detroit Red Wings v. Colorado Avalanche, The Inside Story of Pro Sports' Best and Nastiest Rivalry of its Era," and was a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated from 2011-13.