WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins were back at work Monday morning as they held their first practice since sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 5-1 win in Game 4 Friday night. The Bruins still don’t know when they will begin the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they do know that there is a very good chance they will do so without the services of their leading scorer in the playoffs, center Patrice Bergeron, who is out indefinitely with a mild concussion suffered in Game 4.
On Monday, the Bruins began to prepare for life without Bergeron, who has 12 points in 11 playoff games, which meant shuffling the forward lines. Chris Kelly moved into the second-line center slot where Bergeron was, between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Tyler Seguin was playing right wing on the third line with Rich Peverley at center and Michael Ryder on the left wing. While Kelly didn’t mind the switch to a new line, he wishes it wasn’t because Bergeron was injured.
“I would love not to play with them,” said Kelly, who has seven points in 11 playoff games. “But we’ll see what happens and go forward from there. I don’t think things change too much. Obviously, Marchy and Rex are great players and whatever needs to be done, I’ll go and do that. Wherever Claude feels best to put me or the other guys, I think we’re all willing and able.”
As Kelly pointed out, no matter who the Bruins put in Bergeron’s spot, he won't be able to replace all that the two-way pivot brings.
“Obviously you can’t replace Bergy,” Kelly said. “He does every little thing that maybe goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but not by us. He does all the big things that everybody notices as well. You can’t replace him. He’s irreplaceable, and hopefully he’s good to go.”
Captain Zdeno Chara agreed, saying his teammates will have to step up their games in Bergeron’s absence but also are concerned with Bergeron’s health.
“He brings everything,” Chara said. “He’s such an all-around player. He’s very responsible defensively, really good on faceoffs. He brings a work ethic and leadership. Up front he has a really good offensive game and he’s an all-around player. He’s a big part of this team and he’s been playing unbelievable hockey for us.
“Hopefully he won’t be missing too much time and be back in the lineup. But we all understand he has to take care of his own health and then he can come back to the team. As far as us playing, we all have to step up and fill that spot. It’s a new challenge and we have to take it that way.”
Julien liked what he saw from the new lines, specifically Kelly playing between Marchand and Recchi.
“It’s one of the fits we have in mind right now. As we speak, I think it’s something that we think can be a good fit,” Julien said. “He’s obviously had some pretty good numbers in the playoffs. But also he’s very reliable at the other end of the ice as well. So it’s a starting point.”
Julien wants to keep Recchi and Marchand together since the rookie and veteran leader have formed a strong chemistry.
“Those guys have been together, I’d say, at least three-quarters of the season, so there’s some chemistry there, and I think the guy we put in the middle is a pretty smart player that’s adapted well to our team, as you’ve seen since he got here,” Julien said. “Again, we’re comfortable with that to start with, and if there’s adjustments to be made, that’s part of the process of a coach, and we’ll make those adjustments as we go along, if needed.”