This is what we know about Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron: He’s arguably the best two-way forward in the game today. He plays well in all three zones, especially in the defensive end. He’s a faceoff wizard. He gives you valuable special-teams minutes, both on the power play and on the penalty kill.
We also know that without Bergeron, the Bruins are in a heap of trouble, especially since they’re facing elimination against one of the best teams in the NHL.
Here’s what we don’t know about Patrice Bergeron: whether or not he’ll be in the lineup for Game 6 of Stanley Cup Final in Boston where the B’s will fight for their playoff lives against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bergeron suffered an undisclosed injury in the team’s Game 5 loss in Chicago early in the second period. He eventually tried to return the ice, but that was a fruitless effort, as he was only able to log 14 more seconds before leaving again. When the two teams returned to the ice for the third period after the second intermission, Bergeron was on his way to a local hospital.
Boston coach Claude Julien didn’t offer much of an update, or any update really, following the game. Bergeron’s status for the do-or-die tilt Monday night at TD Garden, to say the least, is up in the air. That could spell very bad news for the Bruins.
“Any time you lose a player like that, with playing so many important positions and logging a lot of minutes, it’s noticeable,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “We’ll see what the status is on him.”
The Bruins better hope that it’s better than it looked. Looking at replays, it appeared Bergeron injured himself early in the period during a 4-on-4 situation. At this time of the year, though, you can’t be too certain that was the genesis of the ailment. Just one game ago in Game 4, Bergeron left the ice for a few shifts and later said he had just had the wind knocked out of him. That could be the case, or it could all be related. We probably won’t find out soon.
What we will find out soon, though, is what kind of character the Bruins have. They already have that built-in excuse if Bergeron isn’t able to go in Game 6. No one will expect them to win. Who would be expected to win against a team like Chicago without arguably their best player?
“Obviously it’s tough,” David Krejci said. “You don’t want to see one of your best players go down like that, especially at this time of the year. We definitely missed him, especially at the end of the game when we needed to score a goal.
“I don’t know how he feels right now, I don’t know if he’ll play or not, but we really need him. If not, we’re gonna fight. We’re gonna do everything we can to try and force a Game 7.”
But just because the Bruins lose Bergeron doesn’t mean they’ll be left for dead. The Bruins showed in the third period of Game 5 that they can at least get by in short spurts without Bergeron. Sure, it helped that Jonathan Toews (status also up in the air for Game 6) missed the entire third period with an injury of his own. But the Bruins turned things on in the third, which should serve as a reminder that they can function without Bergeron. It should also serve as a lesson in desperation, something they can’t get enough of, needing to win two consecutive games against Chicago to win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
“We know how big of a player and leader he is, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “We have to move on and trust the guys who are gonna step in that they’ll do the job. It’s a must-win. Season’s on the line. We just have to play a solid game. I can guarantee that it won’t be because of our effort if we lose. We’re gonna throw everything on the table and see where it takes us.
“It’s sad that we had to lose a guy like that to wake the team up and start battling out there. You’re in the Final, you play 20 minutes and it’s not going to be good enough to win you a hockey game and we have to realize that. Now we’re gonna have some new bodies, some new lines on Monday and everybody needs to play 110 percent and leave your heart out on the ice.”
It’s not going to be easy, with or without Bergeron. Regardless of his availability, though, the Bruins must be better in Game 6 if they want to save their season. That much we certainly know.