BOSTON (CBS) — The win over Ottawa was big, the acquisition of Jaromir Jagr was huge, but anything and everything else that happened to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday pales in comparison to the news of Patrice Bergeron leaving the game in the second period due to injury.
Now, it was not entirely clear what injury Bergeron suffered when he skated off the ice and walked down the tunnel to the dressing room with 12:16 left in the second, and it would be wrong and reckless to assume it was a head injury of some sort. Still, there were a number of red flags that are concerning.
For one, Bergeron appeared to take an inadvertent elbow to the head by Colin Greening as Bergeron tried to jar the puck loose in front of the Boston net prior to going down to the ice, remaining on his knees, dropping his stick and skating directly to the bench. Bergeron, of course, has a history of concussions (you don’t need me to run through it), and knowing that history, it would be unnatural to not think of it immediately.
It was also odd that when the Bruins announced Bergeron would not return to the game, the team did not specify what type of injury Bergeron suffered. Generally, even if it’s just a “lower-body” or “upper-body” description, the team does say what the injury was.
And when coach Claude Julien offered zero update on Bergeron after the game, it all but guaranteed the concern in Boston would be carrying over into Wednesday. The good news is that the contact did not seem to be too severe, so if it is a head injury, it may not be a bad one. But even typing those words seems a bit silly, because rating a potential head injury as “good,” “bad” or “awful” is kind of a ridiculous game to play in the first place.
Should the team be without its leading scorer (10-21-31) for any amount of time, it won’t be good at all, so that’s the biggest story from a very eventful Tuesday in the world of the Boston Bruins.
Still, there’s plenty more to discuss, so let’s run through some leftover thoughts from the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Senators.
–Somewhat lost in all the Jagr madness was just how huge a game that was for Boston. The Senators entered the night only two points behind the Bruins in the standings, so an Ottawa win would’ve made things a bit uncomfortable for the Bruins in the Northeast Division, where they now trail Montreal by just one point. And when Greening scored less than three minutes into the game, the mood was tense at the Garden.
It didn’t last more than a few seconds though, as the Bruins answered rather quickly, first with a Zdeno Chara shot that ricocheted off David Krejci’s leg just 40 seconds after Greening’s goal, then with a beautiful give-and-go from Brad Marchand to Tyler Seguin just 1:01 after that.
And with that 1:41 outburst of goals, neither team scored for the next 37 minutes of hockey. I just hope if you went to the game, you didn’t show up late, because you missed the show.
–I’ve been complaining for the past couple of weeks about this condensed schedule, and how the same teams facing the same opponents over and over again has led to some dreadfully boring stretches of hockey, where both teams are so familiar with each other that neither is willing to take many chances. The end result has been a lot of neutral zone play, a low number of shots and games influenced far too much by the whims and feelings of the referees on any given night.
I couldn’t have looked more foolish for such a thought on Tuesday night, as both teams fired at will on net from start to finish. By the end of the night, both goalies had career-high save totals, with Robin Lehner registering 47 for Ottawa and Anton Khudobin making 45 for Boston.
–Khudobin, as always, was a treat to talk to after the game, and I asked him if it was a fun night to be a goalie or a scary one.
“Fun,” he answered. “It’s always fun.”
Well, that answers that.
Khudobin then said he looked up at the scoreboard late in the game and was rooting for both goalies to get 50 saves, that he sometimes has to make diving attempts on shots but is not like a cat or tiger jumping at food, and that he once stopped 80 of 84 shots for Saskatoon in juniors in a playoff game against Medicine Hat and lost in triple overtime (and he seemed to still be a little upset about it).
Oh, and when a reporter asked him if he’s getting into more of a rhythm, he answered, “I had the rhythm before. My heart rate is going every day, you know?”
Bottom line: I really like the games when Khudobin plays, because he’s a whole lot of fun to talk to.
–This is a real, unaltered photograph from the game:
It is mesmerizing and that is all I have to say about that.
–After the Bruins got Jagr, a photograph of a 10-year-old Milan Lucic posing with Jagr, a superstar at that point, made its way around the Internet. It’s a great image of the age difference between the two Bruins, and it’s a photo that Lucic said is still in his bedroom back in his home in Vancouver.
“That was obviously back when he was in his absolute prime, and for us, me and my brother, for us as kids it was pretty awesome to meet a guy like him,” Lucic said of the photo, which you can see by clicking here. “And the same feeling today when you hear the news that you get to play with a legend like him, it’s definitely going to be a great addition to our team.”
Now, it might seem a little odd or weird that an NHL player has kept such an artifact like an average fan, but as evidenced by David Krejci admitting earlier in the day that he had Jagr posters as a kid, this has to be pretty common when it comes to Jagr. He was the best for a very long time … and he’s still pretty darn good. I wonder if Tyler Seguin has any Jagr posters in his apartment now.
–Seguin scored his 12th goal of the season and was the No. 1 star (who decides that and how was Khudobin the No. 3 star?!), but he was turned away by Lehner midway through the third period when the netminder was … turned away.
Seguin broke through all alone and faked a forehand shot before going to the backhand. It looked like Lehner bit on the forehand completely, with his shoulders flying left and his head turning that way too, but he was able to keep his legs in position, leading to his no-look toe save to deny Seguin:
–A funny side story of the night came when ESPN’s Bill Simmons, formerly the “Boston Sports Guy,” tweeted that he was unaware of just how good Jagr’s career numbers are.
Because Simmons is arguably the most popular sports writer on the Internet and arguably a not-so-genuine hockey-fan-who-can’t-necessarily-admit-as-much, it created quite the stir, so much so that Simmons had to send a clarifying tweet to explain himself.
It was a little overblown, sure, but after famously referring to Rich Peverley as Patrick Beverley in a column during the Bruins’ Cup run, and then later misspelling Peverley’s name as “Peverly” in his correction tweet, seemingly every Simmons hockey comment is going to be examined, dissected and mocked by people who spend a lot of time examining, dissecting and mocking other people on the Internet.
–(As one of those people, I’d like to personally thank Simmons for letting me know in another tweet that Wayne Gretzky’s career point total is “crazy to look at.” I would have never gotten a good night’s sleep if he hadn’t let me know. Thanks, Bill!)
–Chris Neil might have thought he was in for a pain-free Wednesday morning … until Chara absolutely demolished him in the corner in the game’s final seconds. Neil’s stick went pinwheeling up through the air as the Bruins cleared the puck out of the zone, and Neil definitely was feeling that one.
–With Jagr comes all of the Jagr stories and the Jagr questions and the Jagr conversations on sports talk radio. While that’s to be expected, I will say I’ve already heard too much questioning of whether he will be a good leader in the locker room. That’s not a worthwhile question because that’s not what the Bruins need.
They don’t need a 41-year-old guy to give a rah-rah pep speech before a game, and they don’t need a guy who’s going to organize fishing trips on off days.
They need a guy who can score. They need a guy who knows what he’s doing on the power play. They need a guy who’s going to go out on the ice every night and lead by example.
Look at this team’s captain — is Chara an inspiring speaker in the room?
Look at the on-ice leader — is Bergeron that guy?
Look at the most talented guys on the team — are Krejci, Seguin or Nathan Horton the types of guys who command a room with a Kurt Russell-as-Herb Brooks speech?
No, no, and no … and the Bruins are just fine. So if there’s one conversation that can save a lot of people a lot of breath, it’s the “Jagr’s locker room impact” angle. All that matters, really, is what he does on the ice.
And, lucky us, we’ll get to see it in action on Thursday night.