BOLTON — Patrice Bergeron believes he’ll be in the lineup for the Bruins’ first game of the season (Oct. 3 in Dallas), but he may not be full-go when they hit the ice Friday in Brighton.
“I feel better,” he said Monday at the International Golf Club, site of the team’s annual charity tournament. “It’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer.”
He was referring to a groin injury that has nagged him “for a few years now” and worsened during last season’s playoff run.
Bergeron received a platelet-rich plasma shot in July, which knocked his rehab and training off-schedule by two weeks. He was already behind, given that the Bruins played in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 12.
“I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice,” Bergeron said. “We’re trying to shoot more for October rather than this Thursday. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now.”
The 34-year-old pivot has played through significant damage at times in his career, including torn rib cartilage, a broken rib, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. More recently, he missed a month last season with a rib/sternoclavicular injury.
Bergeron, who had sports hernia surgery in the 2017 offseason, doesn’t believe he’ll need surgery to address this groin ailment.
“It’s been there for a long time,” he said. “With the PRP shot, it’s something we hope, and it’s one of those things that takes time to work and have its effect. It’s getting better, but it’s still there a little bit.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling positive I’ll be ready for the start of the season. So that’s not even an issue.”
After a short summer, Black-and-Gold veterans like Bergeron weren’t planning to ramp it up until late September, anyway.
With a long list of returning players, coach Bruce Cassidy’s immediate focus is on his younger charges. The Bruins will play six preseason games rather than the customary eight, so Cassidy’s chances to evaluate newcomers will be fewer.
Lineups have not been set, but they will likely take a mostly youthful group — players fresh off the Buffalo rookie tournament — to their first three preseason contests (Sept. 16 at New Jersey, Sept. 19 at Philadelphia, Sept. 21 at Chicago). The last week of September, with home dates against the Flyers (Sept. 23), Devils (Sept. 25), and Blackhawks (Sept. 28), is when fans are more likely to get a look at Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and the like.
“I don’t think any of our veteran guys like to move that slow,” Cassidy said. “I think they want to get after it, but common sense has to take over there. That conversation, I think, will be realistic.
“Zee’s going to want to get out there as quickly as he can, Bergy’s not going to want to miss time, etc., etc. I suspect because they’ve been through it, they’ll have a good read on it.”
Camp invitee Dante Hannoun (5 feet, 6 inches) and the British-born spitfire Scott Conway (formerly of Providence College) scored the only goals in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey in Buffalo Monday morning in the rookie camp closer.
The Bruins finished the round-robin tourney with a 1-1-1 record, opening Friday with a win over the Penguins and falling Saturday to the Sabres in regulation.
“Dante was certainly a presence,” said AHL Providence coach Jay Leach, who was behind the bench for all three games. “For an undersized undrafted guy, he certainly asserted himself well.”
Leach also singled out Jakub Lauko (F), Axel Andersson (D), and Urho Vaakanainen (D) for their play.
“This is the best I have seen him play,” said Leach, referring to Vaakanainen, the club’s first-round pick in June 2018. “I thought he was confident, wanting to make a difference. He was pretty good with his gaps. A nice player for us today.”
Leach noted over the weekend that the earnest Vaakanainen, eager to make a run at spot on the varsity roster, sometimes overcomplicated his play.
Leach’s read on Conway, who is expected to spend the season in AHL incubation: “He’s good. He is the type of player . . . it doesn’t always look nice, it doesn’t look pretty, but it’s productive. Somehow he always gets that puck. Somehow he is always in the right spot. Heady player. And when he gets his opportunity to bury [shots for goals], he buries, which is important.”
The Bruins lost the services of ex-Wisconsin forward Cameron Hughes early in the second period when he suffered extensive dental damage during a collision along the boards in Boston’s defensive end. The skate of an upended Devils player gashed him at the side of the mouth and rearranged a few teeth.
“Yeah, we are bummed about that,” said Leach, who coached Hughes as first-year pro last season in Providence. “He has taken a few of those, and it’s because he plays inside. He’s always over the puck, which we love, but with that comes some expense — and that certainly was the case today.
“I think he will be OK, but it’s never very much fun to get sliced at 9:30 on a Monday morning when he’s getting ready to go back [to Boston for varsity camp].”
Opening faceoff was just after 9:30 a.m, and Hughes exited for the day when he was clipped at 0:46 of the second period.
In the net
As planned, Kyle Keyser and camp invitee Taylor Gauthier split the Boston net, with Keyser exiting midway through the second with a 2-1 lead, having made 18 saves.
Gauthier, who faced 12 shots, gave up the tying goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation and then the winner with 2:04 gone in the 3-on-3 OT. Both strikes were by former Merrimack/Penn State forward Ludvig Larsson.
When on-ice workouts begin in earnest on Friday, Cassidy will oversee two teams, each with five lines, for the three days leading up to the exhibition season opener Monday night in New Jersey . . . The only veteran currently expected to attend camp on a tryout basis is Alexander Petrovic, 27, who played last season for Florida and Edmonton. The 6-4 right-shot blue liner has logged 263 career games . . . Ex-Bruin Adam McQuaid has been working out informally with his old pals at Warrior, but Sweeney said there is no current play for “Quaider” to get in the mix when camp opens . . . Promising young forward Trent Frederic sat out the last two games of the rookie tournament, hindered by lower-body injury, the severity of which Sweeney downplayed.
Kevin Paul Dupont contributed from Buffalo. Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports.