Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Bruins' Bergeron nearing return

Categories: BOS vs. TAM, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Patrice Bergeron has been out with a concussion since May 6. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) Patrice Bergeron has been out with a concussion since May 6. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Boston's Patrice Bergeron didn't play in Games 1 and 2 as he recovered from a concussion suffered on May 6. But on Thursday Bergeron could make his Eastern Conference final debut.

Bergeron will participate in the morning skate on Thursday. After the skate, the Bruins are planning to decide whether Bergeron will be available for Game 3.

"Tomorrow morning, he's going to be on the ice," coach Claude Julien said. "I have a feeling that at that point, there's going to be discussions on whether he's ready to go or not. I can't tell you right now whether he's in or not. That's being honest. He's certainly inching closer to making a return as long as there's no setbacks."

Neither Bergeron nor his teammates skated Wednesday. There was no ice available at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay, as the arena was hosting Disney On Ice's Toy Story 3. The Lightning didn't practice either.

Bergeron took contact Tuesday morning for the first time since suffering his concussion. He didn't report any setbacks following the contact.

"Those are things that you always have to keep in the back of your mind," Julien said. "But you have to keep that in mind. He could have setbacks, and right now we are just trying to move forward and hopefully keep our fingers crossed that nothing but the best comes out of it."

Lightning looking for defensive sharpness

The core of Tampa Bay's system is its 1-3-1 formation, which gums up the neutral zone and prevents opponents from gaining clean entries over the offensive blue-line. For some reason, the system failed in Game 2.

"Throughout the playoffs, both the forwards and the defence in the D zone have done a great job taking the extra step to make plays and make a pass," Tampa forward Steven Stamkos said.

"We were a little step behind last night," he said. "The 1-3-1, for the first time in a long time, didn't look it was on the same page. For whatever reason, that was the case, and it's something we need to address right away."

The players and Guy Boucher were prompt to absolve goalie Dwayne Roloson of any blame for allowing six goals. Roloson was replaced after the second period by Mike Smith.

Instead, the focus was on the play in front of Roloson.

"We gave them a lot of rushes, odd-man rushes. That's not us," Boucher said. "We're a team that doesn't give odd-man rushes to opponents. That's one of our biggest strengths. They had breakaways and two-on-ones. Those are things that we don't do."

Seguin to play in Game 3

Even if Bergeron returns in Game 3, Tyler Seguin will remain in uniform.

"I'm going to tell you right now that he's going to be in the lineup tomorrow. That's for sure," Julien said. "You don't pull a guy like that out of your lineup that's been very good. He's earned it. He deserves to be in the lineup. That's what we want to see. We want to see those kinds of things happening."

Julien hinted that Seguin will remain on the third line with Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly. Seguin scored two goals in the second period, and assisted on a pair of Ryder strikes.

"He's been a real good individual all year long, and he's matured through this whole process," Julien said. "He understands the values of what this game brings to you day in day out."