Bruins-Avalanche Preview

Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara and coach Claude Julien have celebrated some of the proudest moments in Boston Bruins history and for the time being remain with the club as it experiences a sudden and surprising fall.

Their days in Boston could be numbered if they can't help lead a quick turnaround.

The Bruins look to avoid dropping their first four games for the first time in 51 years when they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

It was only a little over two years ago that Boston came within two victories of its second Stanley Cup in three seasons after Chara became the club's first captain to raise the trophy in 39 years in 2011.

The Bruins missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons in 2014-15, though, leading to the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli and Don Sweeney being named as his replacement. Julien survived the change, but he's still squarely on the hot seat with Boston on the verge of starting 0-4 for the first time since 1964-65.

Chara sat out the first two games with an undisclosed upper-body injury before returning for Monday's 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay. He didn't have a point and finished at a minus-2. For now, he's part of a defense that has allowed 16 goals as it struggles to adjust after trading promising young defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in the offseason.

The Bruins also dealt physical forward Milan Lucic to Los Angeles, and more changes could be coming. Reports have surfaced that Boston will listen to offers for Chara and forward Brad Marchand, who is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion Saturday against Montreal.

"The amount of goals we're giving up is uncharacteristic of this group," center Chris Kelly said. "Regardless of how many new faces there (are), Boston has always been a good defending team. But right now, that doesn't seem to be the case."

Tuukka Rask has a 4.72 goals-against average while starting each of the Bruins' first three games. The 2013-14 Vezina Trophy winner had a 2.30 mark last season, when Boston allowed 2.45 goals per game to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference.

"You have to make good saves at the right times," Rask said. "And then you can't afford mistakes. So I just have to get better than that, and we'll be fine."

Boston has lost four of the last five meetings with Colorado, which also is trying to put a disappointing season in the past after finishing last in the Central Division.

The Avalanche allowed four third-period goals in a 5-4 loss to Minnesota in Thursday's season opener, but they bounced back Saturday by overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat Dallas 6-3.

Gabriel Landeskog scored twice, Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists and former Bruin Jarome Iginla also scored.

"You look at what happened in the third period against Minnesota, any team would be affected at the start of the (next) game," coach Patrick Roy said. "But at the end, you get to see if you have character."

Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves in a solid performance after the collapse against the Wild and could be in net again for this contest. Varlamov stopped 22 shots and MacKinnon scored the only goal in the shootout as the Avalanche beat the Bruins 3-2 in the most recent meeting Jan. 21.

Rask made 34 saves in that matchup. He's 0-3-1 in his career against Colorado despite posting a 1.98 GAA, but it's unclear if he'll be in net Wednesday.

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