RALEIGH, N.C. — Patrice Bergeron acknowledges the reality of his situation. Bergeron has suffered four concussions in less than six seasons. It is a battering that does little to comfort any player given the long-term effects of head injuries.
But what gives Bergeron optimism is how quickly he snapped back from his latest concussion. On April 2, Ottawa’s Colin Greening caught Bergeron in the side of the head with an errant elbow. Bergeron had headaches initially, but his symptoms cleared more quickly than when he suffered his previous concussion on May 6, 2011.
“I felt better quicker,” Bergeron said following Saturday’s morning skate at PNC Arena. “The symptoms went away quicker this time. I had some headaches the first day. The next day, I was fine. It was very encouraging.
“I’ve been asymptomatic for quite a while now since the injury. It’s really good news — working out, skating, pushing and shoving with guys, I feel fine. I’m feeling good and it’s positive.”
Saturday marked the first time Bergeron participated in a full morning skate since the injury. Bergeron missed his sixth straight game. But given how Bergeron feels, it’s a good bet the alternate captain will be available for some of the upcoming four-game homestand, perhaps as early as Monday’s game against the Senators at TD Garden.
Bergeron participated in line rushes on Saturday morning. He took contact. He took faceoffs and killed penalties during power-play drills. Doctors have not cleared Bergeron for game action, but that is considered a formality.
“There’s no limitations anymore,” Bergeron said. “I can initiate contact and take contact and practice, obviously. Teammates always take it easy on you. But I feel fine. It’s good news that I’m cleared for that.”
Dr. Robert Cantu, the expert who has monitored Bergeron’s status since his most traumatic concussion on Oct. 27, 2007, told the 27-year-old center that the latest concussive blow caught him in the wrong spot.
“It’s still an elbow. Guys are still going with enough force that if it gets you in the right spot, you’re going to feel it,” Bergeron said, referring to how Cantu explained the outcome of the collision. “That’s pretty much what he said.”
Bergeron and Greening were racing for the puck in the defensive zone. Greening’s right elbow struck Bergeron behind the left ear. The blow also left Bergeron with a bruised and stiff neck. Bergeron knew right away that he had suffered a concussion because of his past experience.
“It’s one of those things that’s always scary,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, I’ve been through it. Time takes care of it. This time was one of those things where you want to make sure it’s fine and healed.”
The Bruins are 3-3-0 without Bergeron. His absence has underscored how Bergeron touches the game in every manner: even strength, power play, penalty kill, faceoffs. The Bruins need Bergeron to be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling confident,” Bergeron said. “The doctors are feeling confident that there’s no issues and no problems down the road. That’s all I want to know.”
Soderberg on his way
On Saturday, the NHL approved Carl Soderberg’s transfer from Sweden, clearing the way for Soderberg to report to the Bruins.
Soderberg will travel to Boston on Tuesday. The coaching staff will determine when Soderberg makes his NHL debut. Soderberg is eligible to play in the postseason.
The Bruins had negotiated Soderberg’s release from Linkoping, his Swedish club, following its playoff ouster. The Bruins signed Soderberg to a three-year contract.
But the Swedish federation vetoed Soderberg’s transfer Thursday, citing a second contract that Soderberg had with the federation. The NHL did not agree and stamped Soderberg’s transfer card.
“The NHL rejected Swedish argument that a second contract existed with the federation,” J.P. Barry, Soderberg’s agent, wrote in an e-mail. “They ruled our release from Linkoping extinguished all obligations and allowed Carl to sign with the Bruins.”
The 6-foot-3-inch, 218-pound Soderberg will give the Bruins offensive depth. Soderberg, 27, led the Swedish Elite League with 31 goals. The Bruins acquired Soderberg’s rights from St. Louis for Hannu Toivonen on July 23, 2007.
Hamilton sits, watches
Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He didn’t dress for Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Islanders. Coach Claude Julien said Hamilton’s back-to-back visits to the press box were to rest the 19-year-old defenseman. Julien said Hamilton will play on Monday against the Senators. Julien and Hamilton had an on-ice talk following the morning skate. Julien said Hamilton understood the situation. “Two games in a row almost allows him five days to get some good rest — close to a week,” Julien said. “I think that will make a big difference. We value him. He’s a good player. He’ll be back in our lineup next game. Rest is the only reason he’s been sitting out. It’s certainly not because of his play.” . . . Milan Lucic wasn’t used on the power play for the second straight game. Lucic joins Shawn Thornton as the only forwards who played only in even-strength situations . . . Thornton, Zdeno Chara, and Gregory Campbell fought in the first period . . . Jaromir Jagr led all Bruins with five shots. Justin Peters robbed Jagr of a sure goal with a sprawling glove stop in the second. Jagr missed the net on four shots and had four pucks blocked. Jagr also had the most ice time (21:51) of all team forwards . . . Jay Pandolfo, Aaron Johnson, and Wade Redden were also healthy scratches.