Patrice Bergeron has ‘a little bit of a setback’
Patrice Bergeron, the main gear and glue guy in the Bruins’ offense, will be neither gear nor glue on Friday, forced to the sidelines by back spasms on the eve of the club’s preseason workouts getting under way in Brighton.
Bergeron, age 33 and entering his 15th NHL season, said Thursday at the team’s Warrior practice facility that the medical staff believes the spasms are related to his ongoing groin woes, for which he underwent an operation in the offseason. The star center does not believe he’ll be long on the sidelines.
“Shooting for the same schedule at the end of camp and the start of the season,” said an optimistic Bergeron. “So nothing’s changed that way.
“Sometimes it does happen, I’ve been told. People who’ve dealt with groin and hip injuries, they’ve dealt with some back injuries as well. So, you know, a little bit of a setback, but otherwise kind of looking forward to being done and feeling good next week.”
The spasms developed only this week, some two months after Bergeron’s surgery.
The Bruins, with a substantial portion of their roster training in China, also will be without forward Noel Acciari and defenseman Torey Krug when their North American workouts begin Friday. Acciari had abdominal surgery in the offseason and Krug is still recovering from a fractured ankle suffered in Game 4 of the playoff series vs. Tampa Bay.
Like Bergeron, Krug is optimistic his time not participating in practices will be brief.
“I feel pretty good,” said Krug, who broke the ankle in an awkward tumble into the corner boards at the Garden. “I am getting closer and closer each day, and hopefully that puts me on the right track and ready to go.”
Assistant coach Joe Sacco will oversee three workout sessions (10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon) on Friday and Krug will find some ice time, likely before the first session, to limber up his legs.
“I’ll slowly work in with the group,” said the 27-year-old, “and eventually get into a game, hopefully.”
The Bruins open up their domestic preseason schedule with a 1 p.m. matchup Sunday vs. the Cup-champion Capitals at TD Garden. The teams will have a rematch Tuesday night in Washington.
Coach Bruce Cassidy has yet to make public his likely defense pairings for 2018-19, but it’s likely Krug will be paired again with third-year blue liner Brandon Carlo. Carlo’s sophomore season had some inconsistencies, but he and Krug were an increasingly effective pairing over the final month, prior to Carlo exiting with his own ankle injury.
“I still have my eyes on being the player I was last year,” said Krug, whose line of 14-45—59 ranked eighth among all NHL defensemen in scoring. “In certain matchups, I played with Bergeron’s line — that’s how it was last year — and I developed a pretty good chemistry with Carlo. Our last 10 games together, I think we were turning into something special. We’ll see who plays with who, and what-not . . . but I’m going to continue to do my job.”
The coaching message to start camp?
“Simple,” said Sacco, the lone varsity coach not to make the trip to China, “regardless if you’re here, or regardless if you’re overseas, there’s an opportunity here for you. Go out and make the most of it.”
Truth is, there are very few job openings, given that general manager Don Sweeney added a veteran defenseman (John Moore) and two forwards (Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner) when free agency opened on July 1. At most, Cassidy will add someone to play right wing among the top six forwards and possibly a center for the bottom six.
A point of emphasis for the Bruins will be quicker puck retrieval and distribution in the defensive end.
“If you look at our numbers last year, they were very good, whether they were goals for or goals against,” said Sacco. “But we always talk about trying to play a little quicker in our defensive zone — as far as getting to [opposing forwards] a little bit quicker. We’ll continue to emphasize that with our group this year moving forward . . . closing plays, ending plays a little bit quicker in our D-zone, which will allow us to spend less time in there and more time on the offense.”
Bergeron, when it was noted that ailing backs are more common for guys who take 14-hour plane rides to China: “Good thing I wasn’t on that flght . . . otherwise I’d be out for a while.” . . . Sacco has three goaltenders — Kyle Keyser, Dan Vladar, and Zane McIntyre — available for the games against the Capitals. Sacco and goalie coach Mike Dunham will take the next couple of days to decide how to divvy up the workload. “Not quite sure yet, we’re going to talk about that,” said Sacco. “We’ll try to play one guy each game and then split one game as far as that goes.” . . . Bergeron, on track to play his 1,000th game in December, made a point of looking up the number of players to reach that plateau when his hometown pal, Antoine Vermette, eclipsed the mark last year. Entering this season, the list stands at 322. “So there’s not that many that actually made it,” Bergeron said. “So that way I think it’s pretty special and meaningful. But that said, it’s one of things you don’t pay too much attention to it.”