The Patrice Bergeron watch continued at Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday ahead of Game 2 of the Bruins-Panthers series.
Speculation surrounding his ailments continued to grow after Boston’s captain missed Game 1. Despite missing his first playoff game since 2018, Bergeron was in the building, addressing his teammates during pregame prep and intermission breaks while watching the B’s series-opening win over the Panthers.
The five-time Selke winner exited Boston’s regular-season finale in Montreal with an upper-body injury. The Bruins confirmed Bergeron’s departure as precautionary. He missed both practices leading up to Game 1 with a separate illness that had made its way through the locker room.
Bergeron’s presence at TD Garden provided further speculation that he had indeed felt good enough to at least attend Game 1. Two days later, Bergeron skated on his own about an hour before the Bruins’ morning session in Brighton. He did not join his teammates for the full skate, however.
Head coach Jim Montgomery confirmed that Bergeron won’t play in Game 2.
“He’s progressing well,” Montgomery told reporters. “He’s day by day, but he’s a no for tonight.”
Given the Bruins’ early cushion, they can play it safe with Bergeron without needing to rush him back into the lineup.
That give and take could continue if the Bruins extend their series lead to 2-0 heading into Game 3 in Sunrise. And perhaps Bergeron won’t need to suit up if the league-leading B’s can close out their first-round series early.
Either way, Bergeron will still have a say regarding his return to the Boston lineup. But he’ll also continue discussing his health with the coaching staff and team trainers.
“I think you always are looking at the situation,” Montgomery added during his press conference. “Everything goes into our decision-making. Where he’s at is number one. Number two would be, just like the regular season, rest vs. play, where the series is at, all those things. They’re all factors.”
The Bruins hope their next-man-up mantra factors into a Game 2 victory.
They’ll sport the same lineup with Linus Ullmark in net. Pavel Zacha will fill Bergeron’s void on the top line next to Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand. Tyler Bertuzzi will stay in a top-six role following his impressive playoff debut, with David Pastrnak on the opposite wing and David Krejci centering.
Charlie Coyle centers Taylor Hall and Trent Frederic on the third line. The fourth line of Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Garnet Hathaway rounds out Boston’s bottom six.
The Bruins will again trot out their three defensive pairings of Dmitry Orlov and Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo, and Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton.
Sam Bennett (groin) returns for Florida, providing the Panthers with some needed depth up front. The 26-year-old notched 16 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. He last appeared in Florida’s lineup on March 20 in Detroit.
Alex Lyon will get the nod in the Panthers’ net for Game 2 following a mixed performance Monday night.
The Bruins withstood Florida’s opening push in Game 1. They looked shaky at times through the first 40, yet Montgomery’s bunch persevered without Bergeron and played their best hockey in the final 20 to secure the 3-1 win.
They’ll need a better 60-minute effort without Bergeron against the Panthers. But, like Monday, they’ll still have Bergeron’s presence to lean on.
“He’s hard to keep [out]. He’s such a pro, and he’s such a competitor obviously,” Montgomery said. “Everybody knows that he wants to be in. But the great thing about him is his ability to put his own personal feeling aside and still lead our group like he does. That speaks volumes about his leadership quality.”
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