NESN’s Jack Edwards raised a very interesting point about Patrice Bergeron during the broadcast of Sunday night’s Boston Bruins game.
Edwards pointed out a potentially concerning dip in Bergeron’s ice time over the last handful of games. Bergeron, in his first 15 games of the season, averaged nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game. Over the Bruins’ last seven games — including Sunday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils — Bergeron is averaging 16:36 of ice time per night.
A drop of more than two minutes per game is pretty noticeable, and it has coincided with a little bit of a slide for a Bruins team that has lost six of its last nine. Despite all that, Bergeron insisted Monday morning he’s healthy.
“I’m feeling good,” Bergeron said. “It’s obviously a shortened season with a lot of hockey, so it was maintenance the day before the New Jersey game. At this point, as we go forward, I think you look at the amount of games in the amount of days, it is what it is and we have to make the best of it. That’s it, so no issues.”
The Bruins had an optional skate Monday before going to Long Island for a Tuesday night clash with the Islanders. It’s safe to assume there will be plenty of optional morning skates on gamedays moving forward, too. Starting Tuesday, the Bruins play 34 games in 61 days and don’t have consecutive days off for the rest of the season.
Bergeron even seemed to suggest Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is taking a proactive approach to managing his captain’s minutes as the team enters the brutal stretch.
“You look at the schedule, it’s pretty much through the rest of the year, it’s every other day for the most part,” Bergeron said. “It’s a lot of games in a short period of time. That’s something you need to be aware of and managing that, and that’s what (Cassidy’s) doing, I guess.”
Given Bergeron’s injury history — most notably a chronic groin problem — it probably makes sense to play it safe, at least until it’s really time to cut loose. Boston currently has the third-best winning percentage in the East division, but it holds just a two-point lead over the No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers with just four teams from each division making the playoffs.
Whatever the route, having Bergeron healthy at the most important time of the season is the Bruins’ best chance for another deep playoff run.