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Young blood

May 9, 2011

Even with Bergeron out, his importance to the team as they begin the Eastern Conference Finals can hardly be forgotten. 

The Bruins shut down the Flyers in stunning fashion just a few nights ago. So stunning I haven’t been able to write about it. Waking up the morning following the victory, I nearly had to remind myself “Yes, that happened. Yes, this is real. Yes, they now must face Lecavalier, St Louis, Stamkos and the coach/savant Guy Boucher. Yes, it’s now.”

But perhaps the more difficult part of game four to grapple with is the loss of Patrice Bergeron, to a mild concussion by a (possibly late and high) hit by Claude Giroux. Bergeron skated off the ice quickly, fully aware that he was concussed. A shame it is to be on the receiving end of such hits enough times to immediately recognize when there’s a problem. Luckily, he did. And he did the  appropriate thing by removing himself from the game and alerting trainers immediately. Not all players would, and it was still somewhat unclear on the replay just how badly the hit would affect him. Nevertheless, the central cog of the Bruins, their ever-stabilizing centerman and workout phenom, is now sidelined. He’s the guy that excels in all three zones. The guy that really can play in any situation. These aren’t throw-away or canned qualities or attributes. That’s hard to swallow.

With Vancouver and Nashville still in play tonight (and possibly looking at a game seven if the Predators continue their comeback) and San Jose and Detroit still duking it out, the Bruins may benefit from additional time to heal and prepare. This is especially important for McQuaid (neck sprain) and Bergeron. But also important for Tyler Seguin, who looks to make his post-season debut in game one against Tampa.

As has been widely noted, Chris Kelly will get the bump to the second line, whilst Seguin will be a wing on Peverley’s line (Seguin-Peverley-Ryder). This is a significant shake-up, given that the lines remained static through the series with Montreal and Philadelphia. Still, I think that the overall team chemistry and drive at this point will help mitigate the effects of these changes. It’s abundantly clear that the team is gelling together like never before, heck, in game four, even Milan Lucic finally scored, and on the 5-on-4 no less.  If Julien and Chiarelli are to be believed, then Seguin’s been working hard despite not playing and is chomping at the bit to go. Paired with Peverley and Ryder, the line should have significant offensive bite and speed. Peverley racing into the zone, dangling and dishing to Seguin or Ryder? Definite possibility. I think Seguin is still a defensive liability, and it will be a real test to see how he performs under this sort of pressure (he’s 19, after all), but he has long known this was a distinct possibility, that he’d need to be parachuted in in the event of injury or suspension, and I think he’s ready. He’s a second overall draft pick for a reason. Now is the time.

Bergeron. Seguin. Perhaps this will be the storyline of the ECF. But that’s somehow unfair, because the Bruins haven’t been to this place since 1992. And they’ve arrived there as a team. The focus should not be on injury, but the team. After all, that’s how Cups are won.

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