WEEI's Jermaine Wiggins has been driving the "Zdeno Chara shouldn't be in the lineup" bus for a while now, and one prominent NHL analyst agrees with him.
Appearing on Dale and Keefe Thursday, ESPN's John Buccigross said that while Chara has obviously done a ton for the Bruins during his 14 years in Boston, the end has arrived for the 43-year-old defenseman.
"He’s toast. He probably shouldn’t be playing," Buccigross said. "But I can see with all he’s given to the organization, the Stanley Cup and everything, the last thing they want to do … you wonder if they have these internal discussions. You know, Charlie McAvoy has to really cover for him a lot. Sometimes it’s like one of those father-son games where Sparky’s trying to pick up the slack for dad because there’s too many welding accidents and dad’s back is really stiff and he can’t move like he used to. Charlie’s out there trying to cover and it’s not a great look right now obviously.
"I don’t think he’ll come back and play another year, but I also understand their hesitancy to maybe say, listen, we have to go with six young legs here. We’ve got to be able to move. This team (the Lightning) can fly. I get the decision there and why you might not want to do that. I’m cool with that, to let him ride it out."
Buccigross was just full of negativity as it relates to the Bruins, who now trail the Lightning 2-1 in their best-of-seven series after getting crushed, 7-1, Wednesday night. In additon to thinking Chara can no longer get the job done, he suggested the Bruins are dealing with a couple key injuries that are limiting them as well.
"I do think a couple key guys are injured," he said. "I think there’s something wrong with (David) Pastrnak that’s significant, whether it’s a rib or an abdominal or something. There’s something not right there. That’s obviously a key thing. (Patrice) Bergeron isn’t moving great. He’s an older guy. Maybe he’s just not going to anymore in the playoffs. (Brad) Marchand’s trying to carry this team and do so much and produce. He’s just an unbelievable player, one of the best wingers in hockey. They’re really all going to have tighten up and play a real underdog style of play now if they’re going to win this next game, because they have to win this next game."
Buccigross also said he thinks the Bruins are just asking too much of 35-year-old goalie Jaroslav Halak, and that he's not a goalie who can carry them in this series or to a Stanley Cup. Halak got pulled in the second period of Game 3 after giving up four goals, though that was more to try to light a fire under the rest of the team than it was a reflection of Halak's play.
"I don’t think so," Buccigross said when asked if the Bruins can come back to win this series with Halak in goal. "I think even when they won Game 1, you look at him, and if he’s under siege against one of the best teams in the playoffs, all night long, two and a half hours, it’s hard. And when you’re older, it’s almost like having the yips when you’re an older player in golf, you see how he sometimes is fighting pucks more because you’re trying so hard and you want to do so well. It’s just a lot, and I just don’t think he’s equipped to win a Stanley Cup. And now that you’re down 2-1 and playing this type of team that really brings it, it’s going to be very difficult to win with him in net."
Game 4 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday night.