GLENDALE, Arizona – Patrice Bergeron hopped on the bench for the end of Bruins practice at the Gila River Arena home of the Arizona Coyotes, but it was just the 32-year-old getting a head start on a post-practice skate on his own. While head coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn’t rule Bergeron out for this weekend’s games vs. the Coyotes and Golden Knights, the Bruins do-it-all center looks like he’ll miss the weekend with the mysterious lower-body injury that’s already caused him to miss the three games of the season.
It’s been weeks since Bergeron was able to go through a full-tilt practice with the Bruins, and that will have to change before No. 37 is going to get tossed back into games. Cassidy wouldn’t completely rule out a miracle in the desert with Bergeron somehow being able to play, but it doesn’t sound like that’s in the cards for him.
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“He’s out there skating [on his own] so that’s a good sign, but obviously not being able to participate in practice you’re always concerned that you need one of those good practices before you can play. It doesn’t look like he’ll be in, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” said Cassidy. “It hurts. He’s arguably our best player night in and night out. He makes people around him better and we use him in all situations.
“We need to find somebody else to go in and do [the job]. It’s that simple. I’ll do that on the phone with my wife tonight. I’ll complain about missing him, but now he’s not in. So it’s next man up. I know it sounds simple, but we have to have guys in that locker room that are going to get hungry and respond to that challenge.”
So far Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner have skated in place of the injured Bergeron, and neither one has been able to adequately fill in for the four-time Selke Trophy winner.
Kevan Miller left practice early after taking a puck off the top of his right knee and was helped back to the dressing room in a scary-looking scene. Cassidy said afterward it might have been a case of Miller’s leg simply going dead after taking the shot off the knee, but it looked like he had dodged a bullet and was going to be okay. With Bergeron expected to miss a couple more games this weekend, here are the line combos and D-pairings with Austin Czarnik potentially replacing Ryan Spooner as third-line center in the game night lineup: