Heading into this weekend’s final two games of the regular season, there are four Boston Bruins with a chance to appear in all 82 contests for the club this season.
So will they get the chance?
“I’m under the ‘cone of silence,’” head coach and obvious “Get Smart” fan Claude Julien responded today when asked about the chance we’ll see Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Mark Stuart and David Krejci close out the season without a missing a date.
But on a serious note, Julien said he’s going to take it game by game, and the addition of Vladimir Sobotka and Mikko Lehtonen from Providence (AHL) and the potential return from injury of Dennis Wideman and P.J. Axelsson certainly gives the Bruins’ coach a number of options.
Julien, who it was pointed out bears a resemblance to The Chief (Ed Platt) from “Get Smart,” would be pleased to know all four of his “iron men” are willing to play both games this weekend, but all are willing to leave it up to their bench boss.
“It’s something that you have to do the right thing for the team, and obviously if the coach decides to give some rest to the players, I’m going to rest. If they decide to play me, then I’m going to play. I have no problem with playing 82 games and I have no problem getting some rest,” said Chara after the Bruins held an optional practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass.
Chara, one of the most finely-tuned physical specimens in the NHL, has only played in all 82 once — way back in 2000-01 with the New York Islanders. But the thought of putting another complete season on his resumé doesn’t distract him from bigger goals.
“You can say that you went through the whole season without missing a game, but at this point obviously there are more important things than just reaching some statistic,” said the captain.
Krejci, nearing the end of his first full NHL season, was similarly unconcerned with the number 82.
“I don’t think it’s important for me. The whole season when you don’t get hurt (taps on his head), and you can get through a season, it’s nice. But I didn’t set my goal to play 82 games,” said the center. “If I had to play 75, 80, that’s all right. But I’m healthy, so why not play those 82 games?”
Savard missed eight games last season but played all 82 the previous two seasons. He says he’s healthy enough to finish up the full schedule, and it might even be a benefit to play both weekend games.
“Any time you can do that, it’s great. But I don’t know if it’s that important. Obviously, you take pride in it, I guess. And I guess it’s something I’ll enjoy at the end of the year if I do it,” Savard said.
“You just want to keep playing, you don’t want to get rusty. So if I play the last two, that’s fine with me.”
In Stuart’s case, playing all 82 games would complete a perfect 2-for-2 in terms of full NHL seasons. The blueliner admitted that he’s one of the few Bruins players not banged up right now. He’s looking forward to maybe extending his games-played streak.
“I was very happy last year to have played all 82, especially development-wise. And this year, I wasn’t expecting the same thing,” he said. “But I feel lucky to have played that many games.”