BOSTON — There’s always at least one player in every playoff series whose health and availability for the games looms over every minute until the moment one team has won four games.
Patrice Bergeron is that player in the Bruins-Tampa Bay Eastern Conference Final.
This morning Bruins head coach Claude Julien wouldn’t rule out a return by the center in tomorrow’s Game 2 of the series. Bergeron skated with his teammates for part of their practice today as he continues to make his way back from a concussion.
If Bergeron returns or sits out again, the Lightning don’t care. Head coach Guy Boucher, whose team won Game 1, said his team gets ready for the games as if the opponent is whole and then relishes the opportunity if there’s someone missing from the other side.
“We’ve prepared for him playing for the first game,” said Boucher after his team’s practice at the TD Garden. “So we’re preparing for him just like we did with Pittsburgh. We told the players Sidney [Crosby] was going to play every game, and that’s the way we approach it.
“If they’re not there, we don’t add on something, we take out something. And so I think that Bergeron, we know how important he is to the team. He’s a great player. He’s a great individual. And that usually has a tendency to uplift your team in terms of confidence, and we know the impact he’s got on the faceoff. So obviously his team’s going to start with the puck a lot more often.
“It changes a lot of things in terms of the way the game is going to develop. So we’re expecting him to be there for the opening faceoff, and if he’s not, which I highly doubt, I think he’s going to be there. It just makes it way harder.”
If this was Montreal, we’d be calling him Dr. Boucher. But we’ll refrain from that type of sniping and just be impressed with Boucher’s attention to detail.