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Bruins notebook

Nomination for Bergeron

He's in running for Masterton

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / April 1, 2009
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Local members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association named Bruins center Patrice Bergeron the Boston nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Bergeron, with 36 points in 60 games this season, missed most of last season after suffering a severe concussion Oct. 27, 2007, when he was drilled from behind and into the boards by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones. The 23-year-old pivot also was concussed this season when he collided with Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg Dec. 20.

"It's very flattering," said Bergeron, who had an assist in last night's 3-1 win over the Lightning. "I've been through a lot the last year, and this means a lot."

While he convalesced last season, unable to drive a car for weeks, Bergeron learned to cook more. He spent time in the kitchen, he said, in part because he felt the need to read recipes as a means of keeping his mind sharp. French is his first language, but he also took to reading books in English to expand his vocabulary and also make his brain work.

"If there is one word that comes out of a concussion," he mused, "it's 'patience.' "

Bergeron's No. 1 English read while rehabbing: "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman.

Bergeron's game has picked up of late, as he works on an effective scoring line with Mark Recchi (two goals in Toronto Saturday night) and ex-Boston College standout Chuck Kobasew.

According to Bergeron, he has changed his helmet and shoulder pads since sustaining the hit by Jones. He worked extensively with Reebok on a helmet that would provide more protection. He switched shoulder pads only after the training staff convinced him that the ones he had did not afford him enough protection.

Kessel still absent
No sign of third-year winger Phil Kessel, who remains Boston's leading goal scorer, at the morning workout, and he was not in the lineup against Tampa Bay last night.

"We're going to see him come back with the team at some point this week," said coach Claude Julien. "I guess we anticipate that he should be playing again early next week."

Per team policy, Julien would not reveal the reason Kessel has been missing in action the last two games.

"We're in the business of protecting our players," noted the good-natured Julien, "and you guys are in the business of exposing them."

Kessel, 21, who missed a chunk of his rookie season for treatment of testicular cancer, was sidelined with mononucleosis for a couple of weeks this January. Late last week, he appeared to be under treatment for an ailing shoulder.

Kessel still leads the Bruins with 31 goals, though he has connected only seven times over the 25 games leading to his recent setback.

This is a stick-up
An increasingly feisty Zdeno Chara threw down with Tampa big man Evgeny Artyukhin with 8:43 gone in the first period. Artyukhin first was rattled by Milan Lucic near the Boston bench, leading him to pop the undersized David Krejci in the head. Big Z responded by firing punches at Artyukhin, and the two monsters traded a flurry of thunderous punches, with Chara eventually the first to fall. "I'd rather do something first than wait for something to happen," explained Chara. "Basically, I was sticking up for my teammate."

20-20 vision
Rookie Blake Wheeler potted his 20th goal for a 1-0 lead in the first period, following a Marc Savard shot with a putback at the right post that ricocheted in off Lightning goalie Mike McKenna. The play began with a Matt Hunwick dump into the offensive zone from outside the blue line. Kobasew also potted his 20th. Seven Bruins, including Recchi, now have reached the 20-goal plateau this season.

Scratch ticket
Shawn Thornton, who scored in Toronto Saturday night, was a last-minute scratch on the fourth line. Julien would not reveal the nature of the winger's injury, but made it sound as if Thornton's time on the shelf would be brief. "It's minor," said the coach. "It was to the point that we had extra bodies and we figured, 'OK, let's sit him out.' It's something that happened in practice. We hope to see him back tomorrow or the day after."

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com.

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