The imact of Patrice Bergeron’s injury on the Boston Bruins

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While their power play would probably be better with him, the Boston Bruins haven’t really missed a beat with Marc Savard on the shelf. It’s quite possible that another concussion to another high-level center will have a much bigger effect on this Bruins team.

If you ask me, Patrice Bergeron’s mild concussion could be a major problem. Bergeron doesn’t generate much attention since he isn’t the high scoring forward he was before his first set of concussions, but there are many who believe that he deserved a Selke Trophy nomination this season.

Even in a well-balanced attack like Boston’s, Bergeron was standing out during the first two rounds of the playoffs. He’s tied for second place in the 2011 playoffs for points scored with 12 (two goals and 10 assists) and boasts an astounding 64.2 faceoff winning percentage. His +7 rating shows that good things happen when his line is on the ice.

Bergeron’s slick passing skills and great two-way play fueled a great line with Brad Machand (five goals and six assists for 11 points) and Mark Recchi (two goals and five assists for seven points). As dominant as the Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic line was in Round 2, Bergeron powered the team’s most consistent line.

Now someone else will need to try to maintain that strong second line play. Bergeron is expected to miss at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, but let’s face it; concussion symptoms can linger for random amounts of time. It’s possible that the Bruins will need a longer term fix. Here are three candidates who are most likely to step in for Bergeron.

1. Chris Kelly – Kelly’s been a fantastic addition to the Bruins lineup, as he’s enjoying great chemistry on the third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder. Kelly is the most likely fit because, like Bergeron, he’s a responsible player in his own zone. Here’s what Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Kelly.

“Kelly is a good two-way player. He makes strong plays and we’ve seen him on that other line and his style of play is not unlike Bergy’s,” said Chiarelli. “Watching him (Friday) night it looks like it would be a good fit.”

2. Rich Peverley – Speaking of Peverley, he’s closer to Bergeron’s level from an offensive standpoint. He is a nice playmaker, but might be a defensive liability against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s better offensive players.

3. Tyler Seguin – As Joe pointed out, Seguin will get his chance to play in the postseason with Bergeron’s injury. Seguin is a raw offensive talent who isn’t quite there yet, but who knows, the playoffs might be a good launching pad for the second pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The fact that he’s been a healthy scratch in the playoffs shows that he must earn Julien’s trust to get big minutes, though.

One bonus with the unlikely choice of lining Seguin up with Recchi and Marchand is that the team could keep the Peverley-Kelly-Ryder line together.

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The Bruins will do their best to replace Bergeron for however long he’s out, but it’s unlikely that they’ll find a player at his level. That being said, they do have some options. All three of the choices above are considered “natural” centers, so Julien can mix-and-match to see what the best option might be. This team already excels with an offense-by-committee approach, so it might not be crazy to think that everyone can step it up a bit in Bergeron’s absence.

The Buzzer: Eichel beats McDavid; More Vegas gold

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Player of the Night: Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

So far in their careers, Connor McDavid comparisons haven’t been kind to Jack Eichel. To be fair, just about every other NHL player pales in comparison to McDavid, but Eichel gets it the worst because he was selected right behind McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft.

McDavid’s enjoyed a deep playoff run and piled up some impressive hardware, yet Eichel got the best of number 97 for at least one night. As part of a 5-0 win for the Sabres against the Oilers, Eichel generated a goal and three assists.

If you haven’t noticed, Eichel’s been playing some of the best hockey even before Tuesday. With 10 points in his last five games, he’s enjoying the most productive stretch of his young career.

It was outrageous to place Buffalo’s blame on Eichel, so hopefully this torrid run at least turns down the volume on his critics.

Highlights of the Night:

We saw the nasty side of Brad Marchand with this questionable hit, but this goal was very, very nice:

This Shea Theodore outlet pass is so slick, it’s almost tough to keep your eye on it. William Karlsson scored yet again, and the Golden Knights won once again.

You may also enjoy Travis Konecny’s overtime game-winner, which you can check out here.

Factoids

The Boston Bruins’ run continues, while the Avalanche’s winning streak ended.

Vegas Golden Knights zero in on more records for expansion teams. Remarkable stuff.

From remarkably great to almost unspeakably bad: how can the Oilers’ penalty kill be this ineffective?

Some key bits from tonight

Panthers, Stars brawl.

Canadiens end Avalanche’s winning streak at 10.

Flyers edge Red Wings in OT.

Possible injury for Joe Thornton?

Goalie injuries also cause for concern.

Scores

Bruins 3, Devils 2
Penguins 3, Hurricanes 1
Canadiens 4, Avalanche 2
Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)
Blues 3, Senators 0
Lightning 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Stars 6, Panthers 1
Sabres 5, Oilers 0
Canucks 6, Kings 2
Golden Knights 6, Blue Jackets 3
Ducks 6, Rangers 3
Jets 5, Sharks 4 (OT)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fights: Stars, Panthers pile up season-high 138 penalty minutes

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When you think of the Dallas Stars against the Florida Panthers, a few things might come to mind:

  • No state income taxes, if you’re an unrestricted free agent.
  • “Non-traditional franchises.”
  • Going further on that point, arguably examples of Gary Bettman’s vision in expanding the league’s scope.

You probably don’t think “blood rivals,” but maybe Tuesday will change that. Perhaps it was triggered in part by a misunderstanding about James Reimer‘s injury, or maybe because Antoine Roussel is Antoine Roussel, yet either way, things got pretty nasty between the Stars and Panthers on Tuesday.

The two teams piled up a whopping 138 penalty minutes in this one, which is great for lovers of chaos and/or fantasy hockey owners.

According to Sportsnet’s stats, that’s the highest combined PIM for a game so far in 2017-18. Somehow Matthew Tkachuk wasn’t even involved.

Again, it was a little senseless, which admittedly is sometimes the most entertaining form of violence.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

The Stars pummeled the Panthers 6-1, by the way.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sharks’ Hertl ejected; Joe Thornton injured?

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Brad Marchand isn’t the only player who delivered a questionable hit on Tuesday, as Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks is also likely to draw the attention of the Department of Player Safety.

Hertl received a game misconduct and major penalty for boarding Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

For whatever it’s worth, Hertl, 24, hasn’t been suspended in the NHL. It seems like Kulikov suffered at least some ill effects from the hit.

Some put at least a portion of blame on Kulikov for turning his back before the check.

Is the major penalty sufficient or should Hertl sit for that hit?

Update: The Jets ended up beating the Sharks 4-3 in overtime, but the bigger concern for San Jose is that Joe Thornton might be injured. More information may not come for a while.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Should Brad Marchand be suspended for elbow on Marcus Johansson?

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Much has been made of Brad Marchand cleaning up his act, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Boston Bruins forward has totally stopped blurring the line between “physical” and “illegal” play.

Marchand was everywhere in the Bruins’ 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, and that was mostly in a good way, scoring a goal and an assist, easily leading all forwards with 20:06 time on ice.

Devils fans were unhappy when Marchand wasn’t penalized for a highly questionable elbow on forward Marcus Johansson. You can watch the infraction in the video above this post. You can also see it in GIF form below.

NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Department of Player Safety is aware of the elbow, and supplemental discipline may come:

Again, many recall other incidents with Marchand, so plenty were unhappy with the situation:

What do you think? Is a suspension appropriate in this case?

More on the Bruins:How will they cope without Charlie McAvoy?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.