The Bruins lackluster effort Thursday night was briefly overshadowed by one thing in particular: forward Patrice Bergeron’s trip down the tunnel after an awkward hit into the boards.
With David Krejci and Gregory Campbell out with injuries to start the season, Bruins fans were holding their breath as Bergeron headed off the ice 35 seconds into the second period and didn’t return. The Bruins floundered, trying to defend against the Red Wings great offensive pressure.
He quietly returned towards the end of the second period and finished the game. Afterwards he told reporters that he was simply following protocol.
“No, I didn’t feel that [I was in trouble],” Bergeron said. “It’s one of those protocols you have to respect, and I had to go to the quiet room, and it takes forever to go through that test, so it took a little bit of time but I was fine the whole time.”
Not a stranger to injuries, following protocol seemed to be the smart thing to do for a player like Bergeron. As you may remember, Bergeron played through a broken rib, torn cartilage, a punctured lung and a separated shoulder throughout the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Bergeron also suffered a season-ending concussion and a broken nose during the 2007-08 season after being knocked unconscious from a check from behind into the boards by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones. Jones was suspended for the hit.
Needless to say, Bergeron’s lack of concern was not shared by the rest of the Bruins bench.
“Anytime a player comes off and he’s one of your top guys, there’s concern,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “It’s not because how thin we are in the middle, but anytime that happens.”
“I was glad to see him come back and as far as he was concerned, he respected the protocol, he felt OK, he went in – because that’s what we should do and that’s the right thing to do, and he came back. So it was done properly and again, it’s respecting the protocol of the League for all the right reasons.”
Though most people noticed Bergeron leaving, there was one player on the ice whose focus had to stay on the game – goalie Tuukka Rask, who made some incredible saves in a game that should have seen the Red Wings score more than twice. Rask was so on top of his game that he didn’t even notice Bergeron leaving.
“Did he? I didn’t know that, so that’s how focused I was, I guess,” said Rask. “But it never helps to lose him.”
The Bruins struggled to find their legs and only forced offensive pressure in spurts, being overpowered by the Wings’ offense often. Though Bergeron’s absence was a factor in an ugly second period, it wasn’t an excuse.
“It definitely was a sloppy start and even in the second, we got caught back on our heels also,” Bergeron said. “It wasn’t a good effort. It wasn’t our best.”