Bergeron gives it a go
Patrice Bergeron returned to action yesterday, his fractured right thumb in a splint, and the 24-year-old pivot played his usual Russell Stover-like assortment of roles. He centered one of the Bruins’ top two lines. He killed penalties. He participated in power plays. He was there in body and spirit, but his effectiveness was there only in flashes in Boston’s 5-1 loss to the Senators.
“It’s sore . . . I know it’s there,’’ said Bergeron about the thumb, broken two weeks ago last night at Madison Square Garden. “But it’s not something that’s going to be worse [from playing]. It’s a matter of playing through it.’’
It’s also a matter of making adjustments. Bergeron said the splint inhibited some of his puckhandling and shooting, and he’ll work with the training staff to modify it over the coming days, perhaps weeks. He’ll also practice with the club tomorrow, something he didn’t do while he was injured. If the Bruins hadn’t gone 1-3-1 in their previous five games, it’s a good bet their prized young player would take at least another week, perhaps longer, before returning to duty.
Bergeron, as planned, did not play to one of his strengths, opting out of most faceoffs. Rather than put unnecessary pressure on the thumb, he moved to the wing on draws, with linemate Mark Recchi the first option, backed up by Miroslav Satan. Late in the game, Bergeron took a pair of drops, losing both.
“Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to do that,’’ he said. “But I was trying to get in the game . . . it’s fine.’’
Recchi won five of his 11 faceoffs and Satan went 1 for 1. The line landed four shots, three by Recchi and one by Bergeron.
“We were a little flat-footed right away,’’ said Bergeron, noting the heavy workload his teammates endured on their three-game all-California swing last week. “But, no excuses. We have to be ready to go from the drop of the puck.’’
A righthanded shot, Bergeron’s right hand is placed low on the stick shaft, which makes it the power hand. Shot strength will be an issue until the thumb is fully healed. The pain also limits how much he can battle for pucks, fight through traffic, etc.
“It’s more in close, in tight, in corners,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the power play was blanked again, stoned on only two chances while the Senators went 1 for 6. The Bruins have gone without a power-play goal in five straight games - a stretch in which they’ve been awarded only nine advantages (often a measure of team not using its speed). Their opponents have gone on the power play 21 times in the last five games, a lopsided edge.