BOSTON, MA - The Bruins flew back to Boston Sunday in preparation for a do-or-die Game Six Monday night at TD Garden - and Patrice Bergeron was with the team.
According to B's Head Coach Claude Julien, the alternate captain is "day-to-day," meaning he could be a possibility to play Monday night against Chicago.
"Day-to-day is really good news to me, anyways," said Julien, before gesturing to media spanned out in front of him during his off-day press conference. "Should be to you guys."
After only playing two short shifts in the second period of Saturday night's Game 5, 3-1 loss to the Hawks, Bergeron did not play for the rest of the game Saturday night and was transported to a local hospital for observation. He was discharged that night, before flying with his teammates. Specifics of the injury are respectfully staying under wraps.
But, according to his teammate Brad Marchand, Bergeron seemed well on the team flight back.
"Yeah, he’s good. He came back with us and everything, so hopefully he can play tomorrow," said Bergeron's usual left winger.
"Obviously, he’s a big part of the team and hopefully he can play tomorrow."
Netminder Tuukka Rask knows that Bergeron isn't a player you replace - but the Bruins would have to find a way if he can't play.
"He plays in every situation. He plays faceoffs, power play, penalty kill. It would be a huge loss for us but, then again, we can’t be feeling sorry for ourselves. We just have to play with the guys we have."
With Bergeron considered day-to-day, Coach Julien has to consider his options heading into Game 6.
"I don't know if he'll skate tomorrow. He may, and that's what day-to-day is. Again, I'm trying to be as clear as I can here," said Julien, of Bergeron's status.
One of those options could include putting Carl Soderberg at center alongside Marchand and Jagr, as it happened for the rest of Game 5, once Bergeron could no longer hit the ice.
Soderberg had been inserted into the lineup, making his NHL playoff debut, replacing Kaspars Daugavins on the left wing with Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton, but obviously played a much larger role once Bergeron was out.
"I liked Soderberg's game. Anybody who knows that this guy hadn't played in two months and came into [Saturday's] game and played the way he did, should be impressed. I know I was," said Julien of the 6-foot-3 forward's play.
"He had good jump and there was no fear. We gave him the same message we gave our young kids when they came into that round against New York, and he just did the same thing. He went out there and played and played hard, and I didn't mind his game."
"Now, whether that happens or not, again, will depend on Bergy," added Coach. "The other thing is if it's not Bergy, I'm going to look, 'is he the right fit or do I look for something else?', and I may have to juggle some players around. But that will happen more tomorrow when we find out more about Bergy."
Soderberg may have impressed with his debut, but he's hoping he doesn't have to play the larger role again centering Marchand and Jagr for only one reason - that it means Bergeron is back.
"Usually in Sweden, I played a lot so I’ve done it before," said Soderberg, of having to play his natural center position, after starting the game on the wing. "But for the team, it’s best Bergy comes back tomorrow. So that's what we hope for. We don't know what it is, but hopefully he’s back, and then I can play wing [on the other line]."
"It's tough to lose him. He’s our best player, so it’s tough for every team," added Soderberg, before noting that the Chicago Blackhawks had a loss of their own for most of Game 5, with Jonathan Toews not playing in the third period.
"They lost their best player too, so it was almost a tie there. But Bergy’s really important to us, so we need him tomorrow."
Though, it appears that, as of Sunday afternoon, Toews' chances of coming back in for Game 6 are greater than Bergeron's.
"Johnny is doing much better today; he's progressed. We're optimistic that he might be playing [Monday] night," Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville told media Sunday, after the team had flown to Boston from Chicago.
Just as the Bruins know they will need to step up in Game 6, with or without Bergeron, the Hawks are focusing on what they can control.
"I think you look at the situation we're in, we're this close to reaching our goal," said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp. "Obviously we want Johnny to play, but if he's not, we have to find a way to get it done either way."
For the B's, they're not as worried about whether Toews will be or not, as they are about their own game, and making sure they give themselves a chance to win.
"It you look at our situation, I think I should be looking in my backyard and make sure I've got my guys playing tomorrow before I start worrying about the game plan with them," said Coach Julien. "We'll know more [Monday], and I can prepare in different ways in my mind, and once I find out whether all our guys are in our lineup and whether all their guys are in or out, probably you can adjust to some things in your game plan according to that."
"But right now we know it's up to us to play our game and to bring our A-game if we want a chance to win."
"That part of it should be more important than who they have and don't have in their lineup."