BOSTON – Whatever mysterious “body injury” is ailing Boston Bruins star Patrice Bergeron, it’s made him a game-time decision for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Coach Claude Julien offered some sunshine about his status in a pregame press conference on Monday.
“Patrice will dress for warm-up tonight. I’m feeling confident he will play,” said Julien of Bergeron, who left the Game 5 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks with an undisclosed injury.
Winger Milan Lucic expected nothing else from Bergeron, whom he said has been the Bruins’ best player in the series. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to be in the lineup, and I’m sure he’s going to bring his best when he is,” said Lucic.
Bergeron’s loss in Game 5 led to the Blackhawks’ first advantage on faceoffs in the Final, with Chicago winning 58 percent to 42 percent. David Krejci was dominated in the dot: 2-for-13 for the game.
Bergeron’s absence was balanced by the loss of Jonathan Toews for the Blackhawks in Game 5. In fact, the Bruins played their best hockey after losing their standout center.
“It’s a little sad that we needed a teammate to go down to find a spark in our game,” said Tyler Seguin.
It appears they won’t need Bergeron’s absence to rally around in Game 6, but if he’s unable to go, there might be another motivating player skating in his place: 38-year-old former Stanley Cup winner Jay Pandolfo.
Pandolfo skated with the fourth line in practice, and Julien said both him and Jordan Caron will be in warmups for the Bruins. If Bergeron can’t go, it’s expected that Carl Soderberg will move up to Boston’s second line and Pandolfo would skate on the fourth line.
“I think we’re all hopefully right now that Patrice is going to be in there,” he said. “If I got a chance, I’d be confident. I’ve played in these situations before.”
Pandolfo was signed after excelling on a professional tryout contract earlier this season. He played 62 games for the New York Islanders in 2011-12, and appeared in 18 for the Bruins this season. He hasn’t appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, having last played April 8, but he has 131 playoff appearances, all with the New Jersey Devils.
(Pandolfo’s appearance in this series would carry an extra sense of hockey irony, as his former Devils linemate John Madden won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010.)
“I’ve been in Game 7 twice. I’ve been in series when we came back,” he said. “You just want to worry about winning tonight.”
Seeing a veteran like Pandolfo working hard, to the point where he was in the mix for an elimination game appearance, was inspirational to his teammates.
“He’s here at the rink every day. He works harder than anyone,” said Torey Krug, who was nine when Pandolfo won his first Stanley Cup.
That resiliency is something that characterizes Bruins Hockey, who have rallied from some rather challenging scenarios to win series.
“You don’t come this far to lose, right?” asked Lucic, rhetorically. “It would have been easy to quit in that Game 7 against Toronto, right?
His coach agreed.
"We've been knocked down so many times for all different reasons, but we're very capable of bouncing back. We know we can," said Julien.
“They’re not afraid. They’re excited for the challenge.”