CHICAGO – There’s no replacing Patrice Bergeron for the Boston Bruins.
Carl Soderberg tried valiantly in Game 5, skating 14:16 in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, much of it in Bergeron’s spot between Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr. But he doesn’t win faceoffs like Patrice Bergeron, or shut down opponents like Patrice Bergeron, or score clutch goals like the one the Bruins needed in a 3-1 Game 5 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks, putting them one win away from the Stanley Cup.
He’s not Patrice Bergeron. No one is.
“You can’t replace a guy like that. He’s one of the best players in the League at what he does,” said center Rich Peverley.
Bergeron skated 6 minutes and 6 seconds before he left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins later confirmed he was taken to a local hospital for “observation.”
More speculation: It’s an injury that predates Game 5, which is why Soderberg got the call instead of Kaspars Daugavins – the former can play center, which he did for most of Game 5.
Soderberg wouldn’t comment on that. Coach Claude Julien dodged the question in the postgame interview: “Guys, I'm not going there. … We can ask a million questions. I don't have any more information than probably you guys do right now.”
No matter when or how Bergeron was injured, the facts are that his absence was palpable in Game 5, and that if he misses Game 6 it could spell the end of the Bruins’ season.
In a way, things evened out: Bergeron and star center Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks were both injured in Game 5.
“Injuries happen. It just happened to be one of their best players, one of our best players at the time,” said Peverley. “You’re always concerned about a guy’s safety and health, but at that time you gotta move on. Hopefully he’s OK.”
The difference was that Toews went down with the Blackhawks up 2-0, and the Bruins lost Bergeron trailing Chicago.
His status for Game 6 is up in the air, with Julien offering no specifics.
“It's just an injury that wasn't able to let him finish the game. He may be in next game. I'm not going there,” he said.
Ironically, losing Bergeron sparked the Bruins in a game in which they had struggled.
“It’s kinda sad that we gotta lose a guy like that to wake the team up and start battling like that,” said goalie Tuukka Rask.
So perhaps they rally again in Game 6, with their backs against the wall, if Bergeron can’t go.
“You don’t want to see one of your best players go down, especially this time of year. It is what it is. If not, we’re going to fight. We’re going to do everything we can to win and force Game 7,” said center David Krejci.
Said Rask, “There’s nothing we can do about it. We have to move on, and trust the guys that are going to step in.”
Rask said he expects Julien will shake things up on Monday, with or without Bergeron in the lineup.
“We’re going to have some new bodies, new lines on Monday. Everybody needs to put 110 percent, leave their heart out on the ice,” he said.