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Bruins notebook: Zdeno Chara expects to return Saturday vs. Canucks

February 11, 2017

A few pounds lighter after a couple days of debilitating illness, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara returned to practice yesterday at Warrior Ice Arena for the first time since the coaching change from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy.

The big defenseman missed two days of practice and didn’t play in the Bruins’ 6-3 win against San Jose on Thursday. He expects to play against the Vancouver Canucks at the Garden today (1 p.m.).

“It’s been good yesterday and progress from yesterday to today. So it should be good to go for tomorrow,” Chara said after his first Cassidy-run practice.

Chara said he tends to get sick every five or six years and he probably hadn’t been that ill since he missed Game 2 of the first-round playoff series against Montreal in 2011. Chara was out of commission while his teammates were reacting to the coaching change and getting used to Cassidy as a head coach.

He hasn’t gone through it for 10 years, but Chara played through numerous coaching changes earlier in his career and he expects to be able to adapt quickly.

“You have to be professional, you have to be focused on your job and do your job and do it better,” he said. “These things you can control only by playing better and having better results. And obviously you feel bad for coaches being let go for that.”

Goalie split

Tuukka Rask has started 13 games in a row but he may be on the bench for one of the B’s two games this weekend. After facing Vancouver the Bruins will host Montreal tomorrow prior to their CBA-mandated break that starts Monday. In a 180-degree turn from Julien’s secretive ways about goaltenders, Cassidy revealed some of his strategy.

“Our plan right now is each goalie will play a game. That makes it simple as possible,” Cassidy said.

Backup goalie Anton Khudobin has the only win this season by anyone not named Rask. Khudobin last played for the Bruins in a 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina on Dec.?23.

Rookie possibility

For the second time since Cassidy took over, rookie forward Peter Cehlarik practiced on a line with center David Krejci and right winger David Pastrnak. Cassidy said he’s still tinkering with the line but there’s a chance Cehlarik will make his NHL debut this weekend.

“He makes good plays with the puck. He protects it well, a bigger body,” Cassidy said of Cehlarik. “He’ll get to the net, he’ll score. So the primary assets of his game are in the offensive side, but from what I understand he’s played well defensively down in Providence as well. So that’s what we’re looking at, where it might be a good fit for Krech, a guy who can play give-and-go hockey.”

Cehlarik, a Bruins third-round pick in 2013, had 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 56 games for Providence. Cehlarik’s first call-up came Tuesday while the Bruins were in the midst of their coaching change.

“Obviously the first day was pretty hectic, a lot of things going on,” said Cehlarik, who was a healthy scratch against the Sharks. “But it’s been good to have those couple days of practice and kind of settle down and I’m feeling good right now and I guess I’m going to be ready to play if I have a chance.” .?.?.

The Canucks game will mark the return of former Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, who left last summer as an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins opted to pay David Backes $30 million over five years rather than give Eriksson $36 over six years. Eriksson has 11 goals and 11 assists in 54 games for the Canucks.