Local writers named Bruins center Patrice Bergeron the Boston nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Bergeron, with 35 points in 59 games this season, missed most of last season after suffering a severe concussion Oct. 27, 2007, when drilled from behind and into the rear boards by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones. The 23-year-old pivot also was concussed this season, Dec. 20, when he collided at center ice with Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
''It's very flattering,'' Bergeron said of the Masterton nomination. ''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 becuase he felt the need to read and follow recipes as means of keeping his mind sharp.
French his first language, he also took to reading books in English in order 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: ''The Way of the Peaceful Warrior'' by Dan Millman.
Although a work of ficition, ''Peaceful Warrior'' is considered a self-help book, the lead character modeled around the author, whose worklife was based on gymnastics and teaching.
Both Boston goaltenders, Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, saw practice through to the finish, affording no indication who would start this evening against the Bolts. The hunch here: Fernandez.
Julien made Fernandez the surprise starter Saturday night in Toronto, where he won for the first time since Jan. 8. Postgame, Julien said he wanted Fernandez to get back on his game, which would allow the club greater depth with the playoffs approaching and also give workhorse Tim Thomas (32-11-7) adequate rest ahead of the postseason.
The lines at the morning skate:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Michael Ryder
Mark Recchi-Patrice Bergeron-Chuck Kobasew
P.J. Axelsson-Marc Savard-Blake Wheeler
Shawn Thornton-Stephane Yelle-Byron Bitz
The defensive pairings:
Zdeno Chara-Aaron Ward
Andrew Ference-Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart-Matt Hunwick
Shane Hnidy-Steve Montador
Milan Lucic looks to be back on track with three goals and five points over the three games prior to tonight's match with the Bolts. He had gone a frustrating 0-1--1 over his previous eight games.
''It felt good to contribute this weekend,'' said Lucic, who potted a pair of goals in Sunday night's win at Philadelphia. ''I felt I was more of a physical presence and I have to keep that up.''
Ex-Bruin Brandon Bochenski, signed as a free agent by Tampa last summer, was called up this week. He is expected to start at right wing tonight with franchise center Vincent Lecavalier and veteran left wing Vaclav Prospal.
Former Bruins prospect Matt Lashoff, wheeled to the Bolts as part of the March 4 deal that brought Mark Recchi to Boston, has five assists in his seven games with the Bolts.
Martins Karsums, the other ex-Bostonian sent to Tampa for Recchi, has gone 0-2--2 in 12 games.