TAMPA — Some players would need to slowly ease back into the lineup after missing two weeks with a concussion.
Not Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
The veteran was in Boston’s starting lineup last night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay and nearly scored a goal on the game’s opening shift.
By the time the Bruins won the game 2-0 and took a 2-1 series lead on the Lightning, Bergeron had logged 19:13 of ice time, including time on both special teams.
“I felt good and that’s what I wanted. I want to help, I want to be out there, so I was happy,” said Bergeron today after he declined rest and took an optional skate with most of his teammates at the St. Pete Times Forum.
This morning Bergeron woke up still feeling in tip-top shape despite the rigors of nearly 20 minutes of on-ice playoff action after two weeks out of the lineup. He said he wasn’t worried there’s be a return of his symptoms.
For Bruins head coach Claude Julien, it was easy to play Bergeron so much because he didn’t look like he’d missed any time at all.
“I really felt that Patrice looked like a guy who hadn’t missed a step. And you would never have known that he almost spent two weeks without playing a game,” said Julien. “I thought that was pretty impressive of him to be able to come back that way. And when guys go through what they went through, they would have a right to be a little cautious.
“And he wasn’t cautious. He was confident. He knew he felt good. He knew he was okay and he went out there and played like nothing happened.”
Bergeron didn’t even show rust at the faceoff dots, where he won 18 of 28 (64 percent) of his draws. You would think his timing and/or strategies would lose a little of their effectiveness while he was on the sidelines. But even when he’s not playing, Bergeron is working on his faceoff proficiency.
“That’s another mental part of the game, as well,” he explained. “If you can’t be out there, you know what other guys tendencies are, in your head you can win them and try to work on that.”