Patrice Bergeron played the Stanley Cup Final with a separated shoulder and a broken rib, and then spent time in hospital following the championship series with a punctured lung.
Less than three months later, he’ll be in the lineup for the Boston Bruins once again, this time against the Detroit Red Wings in Saturday’s exhibition game.
In addition to signing an eight-year, $52 million contract extension, Bergeron spent the off-season recovering from those injuries. Now he’ll get into game action once again, following training camp.
“Playing games is always the answer you need and that’s the only way you can feel better, feel more comfortable – in your game shape,” Bergeron said on Friday, as per the Bruins’ website.
“The game is always the last and final answer; you need some games to feel better.”
Two of Detroit’s veteran forwards will miss tonight’s preseason game with injuries.
Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and Johan Franzen (hip flexor) will be held out of Thursday’s game against Boston, the club announced.
While not cause for major alarm — it’s only Detroit’s third of eight preseason games — the injuries have to be considered something of a setback, as Alfredsson and Franzen were projected to skate on the team’s second line between newly acquired center Stephen Weiss.
Given the three are all new to each other, opportunities to play together are key.
Franzen, 33, has yet to skate in a preseason game due to the hip issue, a lingering injury from last season (one that cost him seven regular season contests).
Alfredsson, 40, played in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Chicago after sitting out the preseason opener against Pittsburgh.
Despite these injuries, Detroit is still sending a loaded lineup to Boston tonight. Pavel Datsyuk will center Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader on the top like while Weiss, Tomas Tatar, Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Jordin Tootoo are also projected to be in the lineup.
Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser are expected to dress as well.
Tim Thomas didn’t end things on the best foot with the Boston Bruins, but that doesn’t mean his former teammates lost all respect for his skills. Key Bruins figures effusively praised him in the Boston Herald on Wednesday.
Tuukka Rask mentioned that the two netminders spoke sporadically during Thomas’ sabbatical in 2012-13 and seems to hold the 39-year-old in high esteem.
“I wasn’t ever saying, ‘He’s done,’ or, ‘He isn’t done.’ I always thought he’d be one of those guys who could come back if he wants to,” Rask said. “He’s doing it. Hopefully he’s going to have a good camp, feel good about his game and come back. It is a little unusual that somebody tries to do this at this late age he is. But besides that, Timmy is Timmy. He’s capable of doing many things that people don’t expect.”
Rask, 26, added that you always root for your friends and believes that Thomas’ skill hasn’t “gone anywhere.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg also points out that Thomas seems especially driven when he’s being doubted (which, considering his late-blooming career and unusual style, is a frequent thing).
“If you know Timmy, he likes to prove people wrong — like you saw on his T-shirts,” Seidenberg said. “He’s really competitive. When he puts something in his mind, he can do it. I don’t see why not. A year off is long. But I’m sure he worked out hard the last few months and is ready to go.”
The Bruins might hope that he isn’t too ready to go. The two teams are neighbors in the new edition of the Atlantic Division; they’ll play each other five times in 2013-14, with Thomas and the Panthers visiting Boston on Nov. 7.
(Assuming he makes the Panthers, of course.)
He’s big. Huge, actually. So it would seem to make sense that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara would be placed in front of the opposition’s net during the power play.
At 6’9″ and 255 pounds, he not only provides a massive screen for opposing goalies, but would prove difficult – perhaps impossible at times – for defenders to try and get him out of the way.
“We’re tinkering with that,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe.
“We’re going to have a look at that. We have some guys that we feel can shoot the puck from the back-end. Z is probably one of our best guys at screening with his big body.
“We’ve known that for a long time. It was probably what we feel like we didn’t have for the back-end. It’s something we’re experimenting with.”
This isn’t some kind of miracle breakthrough, however.
You’ll recall – and as the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports – Chara was in front of the Leafs net, causing a screen, when Patrice Bergeron scored the game-tying goal in the third period of Game 7 in that first round series.
The Bruins went on to win the series.
With hybrid icing being tested out during preseason, some coaches are going to find the adjustment to the potential new rule a little tricky. One coach who’s not sure what to make of it is Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien.
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com hears from Julien and finds the coach dealing with “mixed feelings” on the new rule.
“For coaches, I think [the hybrid icing] is a bit of a mixed feeling. We’re very supportive of it when it comes to the safety of the players,” said Claude Julien. “I think what it does sometimes is take away some of the plays [you can make]. You’ve seen us use at time before, right from inside our blue line we’d rim the puck in and had our fore check just to get the puck in deep.”
Ah, the old “safety vs. strategy” debate. Wait, that’s actually a new one.
Dumping the puck in is nothing new when it comes to strategizing the game and the Bruins can dump-and-chase with the best of them. While Julien’s team might lose out getting to do some of what they want to do, one would have to think being able to keep players off the injured list would be worth the sacrifice.
After what’s happened to Carolina’s Joni Pikanen as well as Kurtis Foster and Taylor Fedun in recent years, getting rid of the race to beat icing isn’t so bad.