Coming off their statement 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday to take complete control of their first round series, the Boston Bruins have a great problem on their hands. Namely: what to do with captain Patrice Bergeron, who has been absent from the series thus far nursing an injury.
And while the B’s have missed their do-it-all center, they’ve still managed to be up 3-1 heading into Wednesday’s Game 5. Because of that, it’s clear that the correct choice is to hold Bergeron out of Game 5 in order to keep him safe for the second round.
Boston Bruins, Patrice Bergeron need to play it safe
Listen, I completely get why many people want Bergy back out on the ice as soon as he can physically handle it. After Game 2, I would have agreed as well. It seems like Bruins coach Jim Montgomery agrees with that line of thinking as well, based on this quote from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe’s article vis 98.5 the Sports Hub
"“If . . . they . . . and the doctors say they are able to play,” said Montgomery, very deliberate with his words in the postgame presser, “they’re playing. You don’t take chances in the playoffs. You don’t wait and . . . ‘Oh, he’s going to get another eight days of rest.’ If he is healthy, and we know what the situation is . . . if he gets the green light, he’s playing on Wednesday.”"
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This is concerning to me for two reasons. First, the Bruins domination of Games 3 and 4 in Florida this weekend proved that the Black and Gold simply do not need Bergeron to beat this team. Missing a Hall of Famer (potentially two, depending on how you feel about the also injured David Krejci), they dominated on another team’s home ice. Truly incredible stuff.
But second, and more important, is that it has become obvious that the Panthers are less concerned with actually winning games against the Bruins than trying to show off their fake macho man muscles by way of dirty, unnecessary cheap shots after the whistle.
Chief among these plays was Matthew Tkachuk‘s cross-check to the back/ribs of Garnet Hathaway after the first period horn had blown. The Jake DeBrusk goal that followed was pure hockey karma, and that’s why I don’t want any part of Bergeron being exposed to the Panthers nonsense.
Patrice Bergeron and Boston Bruins have bigger goals in mind
A first round victory over a Wildcard team is not what the Boston Bruins are aiming for this postseason. Essentially, it’s Stanley Cup or bust. To paraphrase Duke Ellington, all their records this year don’t mean a thing it they ain’t got that ring.
Yes, Bergeron could re-aggravate whatever ailment he’s battling now during Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning or Toronto Maple Leafs. It would sting watching his illustrious career likely end that way, but less so than watching him be a victim of a cheap shot from a player and team that knows they have no chance of winning and are just out for blood.
Of course, I’m not advocating holding Bergeron out entirely. If Game 5 goes to the Panthers, then by all means Bergy should be on the flight to Florida for Game 6. But I just don’t see the B’s blowing this chance at home, with or without their captain on the ice.
So please, Boston Bruins, hold out Bergeron for one more game. Keep him safe, let him heal, and finish off these Florida Panthers on Wednesday at home.