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Bergeron went to great pains

Oblique and nose injuries in series

Patrice Bergeron won’t need surgery for his oblique strain, just rest, which he will get with the Bruins out of the playoffs. Patrice Bergeron won’t need surgery for his oblique strain, just rest, which he will get with the Bruins out of the playoffs. (Aram Boghosian/for The Boston Globe)
By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / April 28, 2012
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Bruins center Patrice Bergeron finally revealed it was an abdominal injury that nearly knocked him out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Capitals.

“It’s a torn or strained oblique in my abs, my core,’’ Bergeron said Friday before the Bruins went their separate ways for the summer, “so anything that was moving my arms or working my feet touched my core.’’

Bergeron has not had an MRI, but said no surgery will be required, just rest. He had a similar injury in 2007 and missed 2 1/2 weeks of the season.

“If it was the regular season, I wouldn’t have played,’’ Bergeron said. “It needs rest. It’s just time, but we didn’t have that.’’

The injury surfaced in Game 3 against the Capitals. Bergeron took a couple of tough hits in that game, one from Alexander Semin that broke his nose, and one from Alex Ovechkin that hurt, but Bergeron said the hits were not the cause of the injury. In Game 5, the injury was aggravated and Bergeron was in too much pain to play in the third period.

“Somewhere in the second period, it was just on my own, twisting to make a pass, and that’s when it really hurt,’’ Bergeron said. “It wasn’t even like a hit. From that moment on, it was pretty painful.’’

Bergeron, named a finalist for the Selke Award, given to the NHL’s top defensive forward, said he was playing at about 60 percent of his ability in the final two games. Bergeron’s faceoff success rate of 59.3 percent was second best in the league during the regular season, so his inability to take draws hurt.

“It was just hard to battle,’’ he said, “reaching out and trying to battle with people when my arms were at full extension. And I couldn’t get to full speed, it was always there.

“It’s the core and when you play hockey, the core is everything.’’

There were discussions behind the scenes about whether Bergeron’s 60 percent was worth more than the 100 percent of a less-talented player.

“It’s something we talked about,’’ he said. “The last thing you want to do is hurt your teammates. At the same time, the first thing on your mind is to be there for your teammates. It’s a pretty tough decision.

“I went out for warm-up and I thought I could still help.’’

When Bergeron said he could go in Game 6, coach Claude Julien made a game-time decision to sub Jordan Caron for Shawn Thornton on the fourth line. Caron’s versatility gave the team a better option for replacing Bergeron if he couldn’t continue.

And still, Bergeron had a tantalizingly close scoring chance in overtime in Game 7, but couldn’t corral a bouncing puck by the left post. Bergeron said it was the bounce, not the sore core, that prevented him from scoring.

General manager Peter Chiarelli later said, “Patrice would never say this, but I believe that last chance in OT, it was that he couldn’t stretch out the arm. He was in a lot of pain.’’

In the end, Bergeron picked up two assists in the series.

He expected more. After the Game 7 loss, he appeared stunned. Friday, he looked forlorn. He was having exit interviews when he expected to be preparing for the next round.

“I was not ready to talk to you guys about this right now,’’ Bergeron said. “It’s really early and we’re not used to that. There’s going to be a lot of thinking going on in the next few months.’’

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