Head injuries aren’t slowing down Patrice Bergeron and Simon Gagne


Going into the Eastern Conference finals, the health of Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron ranked as two of the bigger questions. Both Gagne and Bergeron came into the 2011 playoffs with a history of concussion issues and suffered head injuries in their second round series. Gagne came back in Game 1 while Bergeron had to wait until Game 3, but in both cases, it was natural to wonder if they would be able to contribute on their traditionally high levels.

As it turns out, it seems like each player hasn’t missed a beat.

Gagne causes problems for the Bruins again

Gagne is the leading scorer for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this series, scoring three goals and two assists for five points and a +5 rating in five games. He was the only Lightning player to score a goal in Game 5 by finishing a nice one-timer set up by Steven Stamkos. This five-game run pushes his 2011 playoff point total to 11 points in 12 games, with a +7 rating.

(Then again, maybe Gagne is just a Boston Bruins killer. He tormented the Bruins as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers in their 2010 semifinals series, scoring four goals and one assist for five points and a +2 rating in the four games he played.)

Bergeron lifts Bruins’ play at both ends

A mild concussion kept Bergeron off the ice for the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, but he’s right back to his spot as the team’s most complete forward. He scored two goals and one assist for three points and a +3 rating in his three games back. He’s also been dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 64 percent of his draws in Game 3 and about 55 percent in Game 4 and 5. Bergeron is tied with five other players for third place in playoff scoring with 15 points.

Obviously, these two cases provide small sample sizes, but both players seem like they’ve made seamless returns. Gagne might not get the same attention as Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis but he’s another dangerous forward for the Lightning.

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Bergeron is a do-everything forward as always for Boston, playing big minutes and making great plays, such as his sublime pass to set up Brad Marchand’s game-winning goal in Game 5.

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Concussions are a worrisome issue in the NHL, but it’s nice to see Gagne and Bergeron bounce back so profoundly from those injuries.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)