By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
Playing an 82-game NHL regular season can cause wear and tear on players’ bodies. Therefore, rest is crucial for NHL veterans to help ensure their health heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, the discussion of the 19-year NHL veteran’s load management has come up recently following a scary incident in the Bruins’ matchup against the New York Islanders last Wednesday.
Bergeron was the recipient of a deflected shot that came off a shot from teammate David Pastrnak. The puck caught Bergeron right in the nose, and he went straight down the tunnel following the incident. Nearly two minutes later, Bergeron returned to the bench and helped the team to a 4-1 victory over the Islanders. The status of Bergeron was under consideration the following day by the coaching staff since the Bruins were set to play the New York Rangers in the back half of a back-to-back.
“I’m feeling alright,” Bergeron said to the media. “Obviously, it’s a little sore. But I felt fine during the game and got through it… I was hoping it was going to stay, I guess, manageable and it did. There was no issues on the ice,”
The Bruins’ captain has skated in 1,262 career games and is arguably Boston’s most valuable player, given his experience in the playoffs with 167 games played and (along with Brad Marchand and David Krejci) three Stanley Cup Finals appearances under his belt. However, in ESPN senior writer Greg Wyshynsk’s article, head coach Jim Montgomery mentioned that load management is still under consideration as Boston approaches the last third of the regular season.
“Absolutely it is. It’s a consideration later in the year, too, when we play back-to-backs,” Montgomery said.
With the Bruins in first place, having a 12-point lead above the second-place Carolina Hurricanes, and 36 games remaining in the regular season, the coaching staff may decide to sit Bergeron once they clinch a playoff spot. However, the 37-year-old center has had conversations with Jim Montgomery and the Bruins’ coaching staff about potentially resting him in the future in different scenarios.
“It’s something they’ve talked about. I told them that those are decisions they have to make, if that’s what they want. If you leave it up to me … obviously I want to play as a competitor,” Bergeron said.
You have to respect Bergeron’s competitive nature, but his rest may be mutually beneficial for himself and the team. The coaching staff has yet to narrow down with Bergeron when potential rest days could occur, but it seems as though Bergeron is going to leave the final decision up to them.
“I don’t know, to be honest with you. Maybe later? It would make a little more sense,” Bergeron said. “But like I said, that would be a decision that I’m going to trust the training staff or coaches [to make] if they want to go that route.”
It shouldn’t be a question of if the Bruins decide to sit Bergeron, but rather when they choose to rest him. Boston should prioritize this team’s longevity in hopes of making a deep run in the playoffs. As most Boston fans know, Bergeron has a history of injuries, as he’s most notably sustained multiple concussions and played through the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals with a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, and a separated shoulder. Luckily, the Bruins have plenty of depth down the middle of the ice where they can substitute the Bruins captain on the top line for a few games as they approach the regular season finale in April.
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