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Bergeron on hand

Center at Garden as team practices

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By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / May 11, 2011

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The fact that Patrice Bergeron was even at TD Garden yesterday while the Bruins were practicing was good news. Bergeron, one of the team’s best players during the first two playoff rounds, is continuing his recovery from a mild concussion suffered when he was hit by the Flyers’ Claude Giroux in the third period of Game 4 against Philadelphia last Friday.

Coach Claude Julien sounded encouraged by the center’s progress.

“He’s here and he’s doing better,’’ said Julien. “Given the concussion symptoms and everything else and the protocol of it, he’s here today because he’s feeling better, so we’re getting some positive feedback from him.’’

Bergeron, who has had two previous concussions, is the team’s leading scorer through the first two series with 12 points (2 goals) in 11 games, and his teammates are rooting for a quick return.

“He’s a big part of the team,’’ said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “We all hope he’ll be back soon.’’

Game 1 is Saturday The NHL set the schedule for the Eastern Conference finals yesterday, with Game 1 Saturday night at the Garden, and Game 2 next Tuesday.

Games 3 and 4 in Tampa are May 19 and 21. Games 5, 6, and 7, if necessary, are set for May 23, 25, and 27. When the series begins, the Bruins will have had a seven-day layoff, the Lightning a nine-day layoff.

Asked about the extended time between games, the Bruins said it was a matter of managing their time well and staying focused.

“Sometimes it’s good to have a break and rest up,’’ said forward Nathan Horton. “We know it’s going to be a battle and we’ve got to really come prepared and bring our A game, because they’re obviously not going to give it to us. Every game, we need to bring that work ethic.’’

Horton said it has been a unique experience for him because he’s not used to playing this deep into the spring. This is the first year the 25-year-old has made it to the NHL playoffs.

“I haven’t been used to this,’’ said Horton, who played six seasons for the Panthers before being traded to Boston. “But it feels good to be playing this late. It just hasn’t stopped. I’m having a lot of fun.’’

Chara gets rest Zdeno Chara was excused from practice because the coaching staff believed he was better off with an extra day of rest. “It’s just a day off,’’ said Julien. “He’s a bigger body, he’s a guy who gets a lot of ice time, and for us it’s an opportunity here to get him some rest. One thing we know about Z, he’s certainly never going to be out of shape.’’ . . . Defenseman Steven Kampfer, who suffered a right knee injury during the last weekend of play in the American Hockey League, practiced yesterday, although he is still restricted a bit. “It’s a good feeling getting back on the ice a little bit,’’ said Kampfer, who also skated with the team last week. “It was a quick practice last week where there wasn’t a lot of flow. Today was more up-tempo, so it was a good process for me. I’m still in the process of building everything up. It’s going forward smoothly right now. There are still some things that we’re pretty cautious about. Skating is going well, so everything is going forward. We just added a little more starting and stopping [yesterday], pushing off a little bit harder. Everything felt really good.’’ . . . The Bruins will not practice today; Julien said it’s the last chance for rest before the series starts.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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