WILMINGTON, Mass. — Patrice Bergeron has been asked to play many roles over the course of his seven seasons in Boston.
The longest-tenured member of the Bruins is about to add another one, as he will have to take over as the club’s top-line center. With David Krejci sidelined with a concussion, Bergeron moved up between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton on Boston’s first line in Monday’s practice.
“It is [exciting],” said Bergeron of the chance to play on the top line. “It’s not the way I would have wished to be with them. I hope Krejci gets better quick, but at the same time if I’m the one who’s going to play with them I’m more than happy to do it. Obviously they’re great players and it’s going to be fun to play with them.
“Those two guys have a lot of speed, create a lot of chances on the ice,” added Bergeron. “But also their size creates some space for you.”
The Bruins’ top line has been one of the most productive in the NHL in the early stages of the season, combining for 13 goals and 31 points. Horton leads the Bruins with 6-5-11 totals, while Krejci (2-8-10) and Lucic (5-5-10) are tied for second. Bergeron, playing primarily with veteran Mark Recchi and rookie Jordan Caron, has been used in more of a shutdown role against opposing teams’ top lines, and is tied for fifth on the team with 2-4-6 totals through 11 games.
But Bergeron, 25, has proven he can put up solid numbers in the past. He topped 70 points in both 2005-06 and 2006-07, and after a long recovery from a severe concussion of his own, he bounced back to lead the Bruins with 52 points last season and was rewarded with a three-year, $15 million extension through the 2013-14 season just before the start of this year.
“He’s one of our better centermen and he’s going to have a couple wingers right now who are pretty hot,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That opportunity hopefully works out well for him and works out well for our team. He’s very versatile. He can play with anybody. I’m sure he’ll adapt very well with those two guys and hopefully take advantage of it too.”
Bergeron hopes that Krejci won’t be sidelined long and that Boston will soon have its 1-2 punch at center — and eventually its 1-2-3 punch with Marc Savard — back together. But with his own history of concussion problems, Bergeron understands better than most the uncertainty of how long it can take to recover.
“That’s the most frustrating thing,” said Bergeron. “With other injuries sometimes you know [how long you’ll be out]. This one you’re left with pretty much the unknown. It can take time or it can heal quick. You never know, but hopefully he’s going to heal quick and will be back soon.”
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