BOSTON — With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup for the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, fellow forwards Chris Kelly and rookie Tyler Seguin have the task of trying to fill in for the seventh year forward when the Bruins’ series with the Tampa Bay Lightning begins Saturday.
Kelly will most likely take Bergeron’s void on the second line alongside Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand, while Seguin, who will finally see his first playoff contest in Game 1, will probably be positioned at right wing on a line with Rich Peverley — at center — and Michael Ryder — at left wing.
Bergeron has not skated since he suffered a mild concussion from the hands of Flyers forward Claude Giroux during the third period of Game 4. The timetable of Bergeron’s return is still uncertain despite his appearance at Bruins practice earlier in the week.
Head coach Claude Julien gave a little update on Bergeron’s health after practice today.
“He’s still going through the protocol,” Julien said about Bergeron’s recovery. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that things will start to clear and be more optimistic as we keep moving forward.”
While Bergeron is the team’s leading scorer during the postseason, his two-way play and his ability to win faceoffs will be even tougher to replace.
Known as a faceoff and defensive specialist, Kelly — one of the team’s leaders in shorthanded time on ice behind Bergeron — has been a pleasant surprise offensively with seven points (four goals, three assists) playing with Ryder and Peverley in the Bruins’ first 11 postseason contests. Seguin meanwhile, will most likely fill in for Bergeron’s spot on Boston’s power play, which scored its first two goals of the postseason in Games 3 and 4 of the Philly series.
Though the task seems daunting, Kelly is up for the task in filling in for Bergeron.
“Obviously with Bergy out of the lineup I have big holes to fill and it will take a team effort to do that,” Kelly said. “But one of our strength’s is our defense of our team. And I think playing with those two guys [Recchi and Marchand] who are extremely hard-working is part of the game and it should be a lot of fun.”
Seguin, on the other hand, is eager to finally having the chance of contributing for the Black and Gold, despite having to help fill Bergeron’s void.
“One of our best players is injured, but injuries are a part of the game,” Seguin said. “You can’t replace a guy like Bergy.
“I’m very excited for my opportunity, but I want to go out there and not be afraid to make any mistakes and play confident.”