BOSTON – The Bruins dodged a bullet in Thursday night’s season opener when Patrice Bergeron absorbed an Alex Burmistrov shoulder to the jaw at the end of the first period, and was able to walk away from it unscathed.
The Bruins center didn’t have the puck when the Russian forward sped past him and lifted up a chicken wing elbow aimed at Bergeron’s chin in the closing seconds of the first period. The hit to Bergeron’s head connected on a player that’s battled concussions throughout his career and he was understandably upset as he chased after the Russian forward following the check to his head.
Burmistrov was given a minor penalty for a check to the head and both Bergeron and Adam Lowry were whistled for roughing calls in the ensuing melee. The Bruins center said following the game that Burmistrov was immediately apologetic after the play.
Bergeron was able to escape the reckless hit without injury and a source indicated to CSNNE.com that no supplemental discipline was expected to be pursued by the Department of Player Safety against the Winnipeg winger. The sense being that the two minute illegal check to the head minor on the play was sufficient penalty for a play that didn’t have enough force to cause any injury.
That’s not exactly what Bruins coach Claude Julien was hoping for, however.
“It will be interesting to see how that is reviewed,” said Julien. “Especially when it’s to an elite player in the league that’s had some [concussion] issues in the past. I hope [the Department of Player Safety] looks at it seriously, and in my mind I don’t know why there wouldn’t be further consequences to that.”
Clearly there’s some sensitivity there given Bergeron’s past struggles with head injuries, but it looks like this is one of those many instances where the referees got the call exactly right on the ice.