NEW YORK -- The Bruins hustled out of here tonight, 3-2 losers to the Rangers, and will play tomorrow night in Ottawa, but highly-valued center Patrice Bergeron stayed behind in a Manhattan hotel room and will return to the Hub today to have a hand injury--possibly a fracture--assessed by team doctors at Mass. General Hospital.
Bergeron was nailed on the right hand by a Dennis Wideman slapshot early in the second period, returned to the bench briefly, then disappeared for the night.
''Let's put it this way, if he's not back, we've lost our best player since the beginning of the year,'' said coach Claude Julien, confirming that it was the shot to the hand that knocked Bergeron out of the action, ''that sums it up right there.''
If Bergeron sustained a fracture, be it to the hand or wrist, he likely would be lost for up to six weeks--the standard prognosis for such injuries. According to Versus, he underwent an X-ray at Madison Square Garden tonight, the results of which could have been the impetus for the club to send him back to Boston.
A fracture also would put in jeopardy Bergeron's participation in the upcoming Olympics, which begin in mid-February. He was named to the Canadian Olympic squad only last week.