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In Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was pretty clear what the Boston Bruins were lacking.

Like a defensive leader who could calm the team down during that three-goals-in-85-seconds flurry in the first period. Like a faceoff ace who could cut into the Bolts' 61 percent advantage on the draw. Like a scorer who could lead a rally; or, heavens to Neely, actually produce something on the power play.

So, basically, they lacked Patrice Bergeron(notes); and the 5-2 defeat is an indication that they desperately missed him.

The good news is that it appears Bergeron is making strides to get back into the lineup. The bad news is that he's working back from (another) concussion, an injury that's both fickle and tricky when it comes to rehabilitation.

As much as they need Bergeron back, the Bruins are being cautious.

From Big Bad Blog on WEEI, an update on Monday's Bruins practice, which Bergeron took part in:

In a sign that he may be ready to return for Game 2 Tuesday night against the Lightning, Patrice Bergeron  returned to full practice Monday morning with the rest of the Bruins. Bergeron has missed the last week — including Boston's 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern finals against Tampa Bay Saturday night — with a mild concussion, suffered when he was hit by Philadelphia's Claude Giroux(notes) on May 6.

Bergeron was one of four forwards wearing a white sweater, joining first-liners David Krejci(notes), Nathan Horton(notes) and Milan Lucic(notes).

Joe Haggerty reports that Bergeron was skating as "an extra" before hopping onto a line with Rich Peverley(notes) and Brad Marchand(notes).

From NESN, more on the practice:

Also of note at practice on Monday was that rookie Tyler Seguin(notes) was also involved in power-play drills. Seguin scored in his playoff debut Saturday night but finished the night with just 9:38 of ice time. If Julien decides to insert Seguin into the power play, he could add the speed and scoring touch that's currently missing from the unit, which has gone 2-for-41 this postseason.

It's a move that, frankly, is overdue for a unit that's been a total bust this postseason.

Back to Bergeron. Were this 1991, the coaches would have told him to "shake the cobwebs" and lace them up for Game 2, which is why ex-players are donating their brains to science in 2011 about as often as we donate an old jacket to a charity clothing drive.

It's a different, healthier, more responsible NHL … which as the Boston Herald notes, makes Bergeron's comeback tricky:

On one hand, the Bruins badly want Bergeron back. But even if he says he's fine and wants to play — and knowing the intensely competitive Bergeron, it's hard to believe that isn't already the case — and the doctors say he's 100 percent healthy, there has to be a nagging fear in the back of the mind: Everyone thought Savard was OK to play, too.  This may be a case where even 100 percent isn't good enough.

"Whether it's regular season or playoffs, our organization, even before they tightened up the rules on (concussions), there was no way we would ever do that to a player," said Julien, meaning rush him back.

"That's too important to his personal lifestyle and the life he's going to lead after hockey. That will always come before the game. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it should be. We believe in that. We're going to continue to enforce that."

Bergeron's return could mean a potential reunion with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi(notes), allowing Chris Kelly(notes) to drop back to playing with Peverley and Michael Ryder(notes). It certainly would mean better fortunes for the Bruins in the faceoff circle, where Bergeron was winning at a 64.2 percent clip.

And that's the difference between Marty, Vinny, Stamkos and Bergenheim (!) controlling the puck and the Bruins keeping it away from them.

Saint Bergeron image via Days of Y'Orr.

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