NEWARK — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said during a Boston radio appearance Wednesday morning that star center Patrice Bergeron, who suffered a concussion last Tuesday night, is practicing and is “on the road to recovery.’’
“So it looks good,’’ added Chiarelli, who spoke on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “He’s working out and things are looking good.’’
Bergeron suffered the fourth concussion of his career when he was bumped midway through the second period last Tuesday by Ottawa’s Colin Greening. It appeared to be a light hit, but a pal of Bergeron’s said over the weekend that the 27-year-old was left with a considerable bruise under his left ear and on his neck.
Bergeron was examined Friday by Dr. Robert Cantu, the well-known concussion expert based in Concord, Mass. Bergeron’s friend said the Selke Trophy winner was very encouraged after meeting with Cantu and was optimistic about returning to the lineup.
Bergeron did not make the trip here and his practice sessions presumably have been in Boston. Chiarelli, also not here for the game, did not specify the location or nature of the workouts during his radio appearance.
Coach Claude Julien sounded encouraged by the news on Bergeron following the morning workout before facing the Devils Wednesday night.
“Any time a guy starts to do something, it’s a step in the right direction,’’ Julien said.
But the coach remained somewhat guarded, noting that players can be “encouraged one day, then discouraged the next’’ when returning from concussions.
“We keep our fingers crossed,’’ said Julien, “and hope he keeps getting better.’’
Neither Chiarelli nor Julien has offered an estimate as to when Bergeron likely is to rejoin full practices with the club or has targeted a potential return date. In an e-mail before the game, Chiarelli noted that Bergeron recently has skated and participated in dry-land training.
Carl Soderberg, where are you?
According to TSN, Canada’s version of ESPN, the talented Swedish center signed a three-year contract with the Bruins, and could be with the club as early as this weekend. (Boston plays Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.)
Chiarelli confirmed via e-mail that the club and Soderberg agreed on a contract. “But that doesn’t mean anything yet,’’ he wrote.
The delay in proclaiming the deal official and Soderberg heading to Boston could be that the Swedish national team has yet to give up its claim on Soderberg to play in the upcoming world championships.
Once his season ended in Sweden (last week when Linkoping was eliminated from the playoffs), Soderberg had three conditions to satisfy to make his way to Boston: 1. Negotiate a buyout with Linkoping; 2. Negotiate a deal with the Bruins; 3. Request a release from the national team, allowing him to skip the upcoming worlds (May 3-19 in Stockholm and Helsinki).
TSN reported that Soderberg will receive $600,000 (signing bonus included) this season and $1 million for each of the next two seasons.
“A big, strong kid who can shoot the puck,’’ Chiarelli said of the 6-foot-3-inch pivot during his radio interview. “Once he is up and running, he’ll help us at some point, if we end up signing him.’’
The 27-year-old was originally drafted by St. Louis, then was traded to Boston in July 2007 for goalie Hannu Toivonen. However, he has remained in Sweden the past six seasons, the last two with Linkoping, where this year he went 31-29—60 in 54 games.
In a bit of a a surprise, Anton Khudobin started in the net, giving Tuukka Rask the night off.
Rask was hurt slightly during the morning workout when a Gregory Campbell slap shot nailed him on the right collarbone, but the decision to start Khudobin was not based on the injury.
“Bad ice,’’ kidded a smiling Rask, when talking about the injury. “Always blame the ice.’’
Rask was left with a bright red mark on the collarbone, and he needed a minute or more to shake off the pain.
Following Saturday’s game in Raleigh, the Bruins play four straight at home, visits by Ottawa (Marathon Monday), Buffalo (Wednesday), Pittsburgh (Friday), and Florida. The game with the Panthers on Sunday, April 21 originally was scheduled for 3 p.m., but has been moved up to 12:30 . . . Boston’s first playoff game should be either May 1 or 2 . . . The Bruins were better at the faceoff dot, a department in which they’ve sagged since the loss of Bergeron. They won 59 precent of the draws, with Campbell much improved (11 for 17, 65 percent) . . . No Bruin landed more than two shots on net, for a total of only 18. In their season low, the Bruins squeezed off only 16 in a 3-2 loss to the Penguins on March 12 . . . All the penalty killing limited Shawn Thornton to a team-low 5:29 of ice time . . . The Devils landed 28 of 56 shots, the Bruins only 18 of 34 . . . The Bruins had three chances on the power play, after combining for only four chances in their previous three games.