By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON, Mass. There was no real update for Patrice Bergeron as he recovers from a mild concussion suffered during the third period of Friday nights decisive Game 4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. And there may not be one for a while.While the Bs two-way center attempts a comeback from his third career concussion, and is likely to miss the beginning if not all of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins know theyve got to move on without their best all-around forward.I dont think theres much of a change here, said coach Claude Julien when asked about Bergerons status over the last 24 hours. I dont know that every day is going to be one of those questions wondering whats going on with him. I think the best thing is that we hopefully plan on updating you as we see progress.Ive texted with him. Obviously hes talked to a lot of people. Were hoping for the best here. When it comes to concussions, you think about the person first and not the player. Well deal with the situation and make the best of it. But theres no doubt wed love to have him back, but not until hes a hundred percent and ready to go.To cut Juliens words down to a Boston clich: It doesnt sound like Bergeron is going to be walking through that door anytime soon.Tyler Seguin has been consistently skating with the Black Aces on off days and getting in work with the Bruins reserves while suiting up for every pregame warm-up through the playoffs. Its all but a certainty that the 19-year-old will get the first crack at replacing Bergeron in the lineup.Seguin wasnt skating with the Black Aces on Sunday morning in a very clean indication he'll be in the lineup for the Eastern Conference finals a rarity in the NHL, where draft lottery studs normally go to teams that have turned to the golf course this time of year. Whats likely to happen is Julien will slide Chris Kelly up to center the second line between Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand, and then the trio of Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Seguin will comprise a new-look third line with perhaps Peverley or Seguin at the center spot. Seguin should also get a look or two on a power play that finally produced goals in back-to-back games at the end of the triumphant series against the Flyers.Seguin on the man advantage was something the Bruins brain trust was considering even before the injuries began hitting them hard.Kelly is excellent on faceoffs and his two-way play is the closest facsimile of what the Bruins have lost in Bergeron, but its clear the Bs will lose some offensive punch despite the fact Kelly has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) and a plus-7 in 11 playoff games this year.Chris Kelly is a good two-way player," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. "He makes strong plays and weve seen him on that other line. And his style of play is not unlike Bergys. So at first glance it looks like it would be a good fit, and watching him last night it looks like it would be a good fit.Either way, Julien said its going to be a team effort to replace Bergeron in the lineup and he likened it to the 2007-08 regular season, when the Bruins survived losing Bergeron to a severe concussion courtesy of a Randy Jones boarding penalty in the corner that put him out for all but 10 games and became a playoff team.
Julien said hed likely be putting different players in different places to make up for Bergeron's absence, which figures to be considerable. His line (Bergeron, Marchand and Recchi) is at plus-25 so far in the playoffs.
Chiarelli dealt a second-round pick to Kelly for just this scenario. He didnt want his team to get caught unprotected if it suffered a potentially catastrophic injury, like the dislocated wrist that ended David Krejcis season last year.We talked about acquiring players this year to give us some depth in case things like that happened," Julien said. "This is an opportunity for our depth to come up and replace a guy . . . who is extremely valuable for our team. Bergeron is our best faceoff man by far and probably one of the best two-way players in the league.You dont replace a guy like that easily, but as a group you have to do it. I go back to four years ago when we lost him for the year. Everybody kind of came together and tried to compensate for that. Thats what we are going to have to do again if he is not with us.It certainly wont be easy against the explosive Lightning, who are getting healthier just as the injury bug has bitten Bergeron and the Bruins. But everyone should get a better look at Bostons strategy when player practice resumes Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena.Things arent going to be perfect with Bergeron back in the dark world of concussions, but this Bruins team has already proven its more resilient than previous editions in many, many ways.Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs