BOSTON — The big question won’t be answered until Tuesday night’s pre-game warm-up. That’s when the Bruins will know whether or not Patrice Bergeron will be back for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay.
But even if Bergeron remains sidelined, the Bruins’ lineup will have a bit of a new look. Coach Claude Julien switched the centers of his second and third line in practice on Monday, and plans to open the night with the new combinations.
That puts Rich Peverley in Bergeron’s spot on the second line between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Chris Kelly, who played there in Game 1, moves down to the third line with Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin. At least that’s how things will start if Bergeron can’t play, but Julien may continue his tinkering in game if the new combos don’t click quickly.
“It’s hard to say,” Julien said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “I mean you try something and if it works you keep it that way. If it doesn’t you got to make changes. Those are all things that you have to do in the course of a game and I can’t stand here and say it’s set in stone. I think we’ll do the best we can here to put the best lineup and the best lines together.”
The best lineup would obviously include Bergeron, but he is still recovering from a concussion suffered in the final game of Boston’s second-round sweep of Philadelphia. Bergeron did return to practice on Monday and participated in Tuesday’s morning skate, but has not yet faced any contact in those workouts.
Julien has been tight-lipped about who would come out of the lineup whenever Bergeron does return. Seguin was a healthy scratch throughout the first two rounds, but had a goal and an assist in his playoff debut in Saturday’s 5-2 loss in Game 1 of this series. Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille or even a slumping Michael Ryder could be other possibilities to sit out.
The Bruins won’t have any such decisions to make on the blue line, where Adam McQuaid returned in Game 1 after missing two games with a sprained neck. Steven Kampfer is close to being ready to play as well, as he works his way back from a knee injury, though he will likely only see action if another blueliner is injured.
“We’re still working on his conditioning, but certainly he’s getting close,” Julien said of Kampfer, a rookie who was injured while playing for the club’s AHL affiliate in Providence in April.
Tampa Bay isn’t expected to make any lineup changes either. They got forward Simon Gagne back in Game 1, but defenseman Pavel Kubina (head injury) remains sidelined indefinitely and his prognosis does not look good as he remains back in Tampa.
“He’s not with us,” Tampa coach Guy Boucher said. “He’s not even here, so the update is not very good. Every day when there seems to be a little progression, it kind of slips back a bit. So it’s kind of an injury that you never know. You wake up the next day and everything’s great or just keeps on going the same way, so it’s very hard to monitor what’s going on with him.
“Obviously we’re missing him,” Boucher added. “He’s got size. He’s got some offensive abilities on our second power play, he made a big difference on it. But right now we’ve adapted. [Marc-Andre] Bergeron‘s kind of taken the lead on that power play with [Teddy] Purcell.”
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand- Rich Peverley-Mark Recchi
Michael Ryder- Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Patrice Bergeron (concussion), Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer (knee), Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Jamie Arniel, Trent Whitfield, Anton Khudobin
Projected Lightning lines
Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Martin St. Louis
Simon Gagne-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell
Sean Bergenheim-Dominic Moore-Steve Downie
Nate Thompson-Adam Hall
Eric Brewer-Mattias Ohlund
Victor Hedman-Brett Clark
Mike Lundin-Randy Jones
Scratches: Pavel Kubina (upper body), Dana Tyrell (foot), Blair Jones, Mattias Ritola, Mathieu Roy, Matt Smaby, Mrc-Andre Pouliot, Mike Angelidis, Dustin Tokarski