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Explanation or Excuse? Bruins Played Through Rash of Injuries

Zdeno Chara was just one of a handful of Bruins playing through injuries against the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe)

Maybe the Boston Bruins advancing to the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight year wasn’t such a guarantee after all.

Or maybe that’s exactly what the Bruins want us to think.

One day after getting unceremoniously ousted from the NHL playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-1 Game 7 loss at home, the Bruins revealed a whole host of injuries that its players were simply pushing through in the name of toughness and (I can only assume) #YOLO.

First and foremost, Zdeno Chara played through a broken finger since Game 4 vs. Montreal. That explains why a simple slash in Game 7 forced him to the locker room after much grimacing and shaking of his hand. I imagine that hurts a lot, even for a monstrous 6’9″ professional hockey player who looks like he could eat a small child for breakfast.

Milan Lucic hurt his wrist in what turned out to be the Bruins’ season finale (and what a crappy one at that), wearing a soft cast on his left arm while awaiting an MRI. This doesn’t really explain why the Bruins lost, but might explain why he was so crotchety shaking hands with the Canadiens. And depending on how you feel about the things Lucic may or may not have said to Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin, it could also be construed as a decent argument in favor of preemptive karma.

One injury that defied explanation was that of Matt Fraser, who apparently played through a broken foot suffered during the AHL playoffs before he was even called up. It’s a shame his overtime heroics to win Game 4 will be dulled, if not lost, because the Bruins couldn’t escape the second round. He could’ve been a legend for scoring that game-winner on one foot. Maybe not Willis Reed-level, but still up there in Bruins lore.

And that’s without getting into the injuries that sidelined Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg for the whole postseason, though Seidenberg was painfully close to returning. If only the Bruins could have advanced one more round…

But alas, they did not, and instead they found themselves handing out injury reports as a way of explanation or excuse. I’m not sure whether I’m comforted knowing the Bruins might have made it to the conference finals if not for the rash of injuries, or if I’m disappointed that the first offseason storyline is spent rehashing the what-ifs and would-coulda-shouldas.

In their defense, Chara did say,

“I don’t like to talk about injuries…it’s not something I’m going to be blaming it on or making excuses. It’s just that’s the way it is. We all play with different injuries or we are banged up, and that’s part of hockey and playoffs, and for sure that’s not why we lost.”

But I can’t help but curl my lip a little bit at how quickly and readily the injury bug came skittering out into the open instead of being squashed.

Of course, there’s always the slight possibility that I’m being over analytic and reading far too much into something as simple as a statement of fact. When the media inevitably asked, What that cast is doing there on your arm?, or, Why are those crutches stashed inside your locker?, an explanation had to be forthcoming — even if it might be misconstrued as an excuse.

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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