BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron viewed suiting up for a preseason game as the final hump to get over before feeling healthy and ready to start the regular season.
The 34-year-old center was brought on deliberately during training camp while dealing with a lingering groin injury that required treatment over the summer, but it’s been a steady improvement upward since sitting out the first weekend of training camp. Bergeron amazingly didn’t factor into the scoring in Boston’s 8-2 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, but he did look like himself with three shot attempts and a plus-2 rating in 12:47 of ice time while winning 8-of-12 faceoffs against a glorified AHL lineup for Chicago.
Afterward Bergeron said it’s all systems go for him to start the season Thursday night in Dallas, and it certainly appears he’ll be centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the Perfection Line as usual.
“It felt good to get the first one underway,” said Bergeron. “It’s always good to get your legs underneath you, and to get your timing and rhythm back. It was what I was expecting and it was fine. I’m excited to get into the battle with the guys and going through the ups and downs of a regular season.”
It was certainly important to get No. 37 some game reps with his linemates and to get the top PP unit a few times over the boards against Chicago, and the Bruins got all of that and then some in the opening 20 minutes against the Blackhawks. A mere 20 minutes later the B’s top unit had a pair of power play goals and the Bruins had ostensibly already got enough work in to be ready for the season opener, and now it becomes about trying to keep Bergeron healthy for the year.
Bergeron has missed 35 games over the last two seasons to assorted bumps and bruises and was slowed down by the groin issue in the Stanley Cup Final. So much attention is going to be paid to managing Bergeron’s minutes and workload, keeping him healthy and making certain he’s at his best late in the year when it matters most.
“I think it’s just maintaining what I’ve been trying to do strengthening my core as much as possible,” said Bergeron, who finished with 32 goals and a career-high 79 points in 65 games last season. “Obviously there’s a lot of luck that goes into it as well. You try to compete and play hard every night and that’s all that I can really focus on.”
Certainly Bergeron is off to a good start with good health to start the regular season, and an aim to preserving that for an entire season for the first time in three years headed into his 16th NHL season.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.