WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Bruins have already made their deepest run in the playoffs in nearly two decades, but if they want to go even further, they may have to do it without their top two-way player.
Center Patrice Bergeron left Friday's series-clinching 5-1 win over Philadelphia early in the third period after being hit by Flyers forward Claude Giroux, and Saturday morning Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed that Bergeron had suffered what was diagnosed as a "mild concussion."
"When I spoke with him after the game, he was a little despondent, but he was quite lucid," Chiarelli said at Ristuccia Arena. "But he was despondent having suffered another concussion."
Bergeron has a history of concussions, the worst coming early in the 2007-08 season when he was hit from behind into the boards by then Flyers defenseman Randy Jones. Bergeron missed the remainder of that season with a severe concussion and was sidelined again for 15 games the following season after suffering another concussion in a collision with current teammate Dennis Seidenberg, who was with Carolina at the time.
Chiarelli stated that this latest concussion "wasn't as bad as Bergy's second" from that Seidenberg hit, but he did admit that the Bruins expect to have to at least start the club's first conference final appearance since 1992 without Bergeron when they open up against Tampa Bay sometime next week.
"That's a fair assumption," Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli took some issue with the hit by Giroux, but didn't expect any supplemental discipline from the league.
"I thought it was a shade late, but it's in that area where when it's at full speed, it's tough to tell," Chiarelli. "I did have a brief discussion with the league on it. It was a tough one to gauge at that speed and especially at this level of competition, so I'll leave it at that."
Chiarelli also added that injured defenseman Adam McQuaid (sprained neck) was expected to be ready to return for the start of the Tampa series, while fellow blueliner Steven Kampfer (knee) would also likely be available if needed.
Center Marc Savard, himself out for the season after suffering a second concussion within a year back in January, may also rejoin the team for this round. Savard has been recuperating at home in Ontario but has kept in touch with his teammates and coaching staff and could provide an emotional boost to the team with his presence, even though he obviously will not play again this year.