BOSTON -- Patrice Bergeron was a Game 7 hero for the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. He scored two goals, including the game-winner, in that Cup-clinching victory.
Bergeron didn't get to hoist the Cup over his head again this season because the Bruins lost Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, Monday night at TD Garden. Nonetheless, Bergeron was still a hero.
Although he didn't want to take anything away from the Blackhawks' efforts in scoring the tying and game-winning goals 17 seconds apart late in the third period of Game 6, Bergeron still decided to reveal the list of injuries he was fighting through in order to dress Monday.
"I don't like to do that tonight, but I know there's some media that might not be there on Wednesday [for the team's breakup day]," Bergeron said. "So I had a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscles, and I had a separated shoulder."
After Bergeron spoke, teammate Tyler Seguin also mentioned Bergeron was playing through something wrong with his nose. Bergeron said the separated shoulder occurred during Monday's loss. Bergeron still skated for 17:45 and posted an even rating. However, the League's leading faceoff master won five of 11 draws and didn't land a shot on net through the final 60 minutes of his season.
From the time he took his last shift in the second period of the Bruins' loss in Game 5 Saturday night in Chicago, right up until the start of Game 6, Bergeron's status was up in the air. All anyone knew was that he was taken to the hospital Saturday, was examined then discharged. He returned home on the team flight Sunday morning and that afternoon Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was confident his Selke Trophy finalist would play the next night.
Bergeron didn't take the morning skate with his teammates, but the coach remained hopeful he'd have Bergeron. Just in case Bergeron wasn't able to go, Julien put out routine healthy scratches Jordan Caron and Jay Pandolfo as extra players in the pregame warm-up. Bergeron looked obviously less than himself prior to the game, but when the puck dropped, he was in the lineup.
"Well, I don't think there was any concerns as far as either he was going to play or not. Those kind of things I can't control, and what you can control as the coach is trying to find a contingency plan. What do you do if he's not in?" Julien said. "But to have him in our lineup tonight was a bonus. And again, there was nothing that was going to stop this guy from getting in our lineup. That's why I can't speak enough about how proud I am of our players, because of things like that.
"He wasn't going to be denied that opportunity -- no matter what."
Having tasted triumph two years ago and knowing his teammates needed him for whatever he could give against the Presidents' Trophy winners who had won two in a row in the series, Bergeron knew if he was cleared by the medical staff, he was playing.
"It's the Stanley Cup Final, everyone's banged up, everyone wants to help the team and obviously I couldn't do that in Game 5," Bergeron said. "It was mostly because they were worried about my spleen being hurt, so that's why we had to go to the hospital. But everything was fine so it was just the ribs, and the muscles, and the soft tissue. So obviously I would've liked to stay in it, but I was going through a lot of pain."
Bergeron is the rare Bruins player who was around before the organization's turnaround that eventually paid off in 2011. He started out as an 18-year-old rookie in the 2003-04 season, straight out of junior hockey.
He's been an alternate captain since the 2006-07 season when Zdeno Chara took over as captain. Bergeron personifies what it means to be a Bruin; his struggles through health issues resonated with his teammates.
"I think even when he was getting dressed in the locker room before the game, you could feel the boys' spirits lifted," Seguin said. "The year we won he was doing the same thing, fighting through everything. Obviously, guys have bumps and bruises, but he's a guy that you obviously say is the heart and soul of our team. He wears that ‘B' with a lot of pride."
Center David Krejci said, "Yeah, it was good. Obviously, we're a close team here, and we knew he was going to play. No matter if he plays five or 20 minutes, just to have him on the bench, it gave us a lot of energy. We love each other here. We want to play for each other and to have him on the ice and on the bench was great. I was really happy that he was able to play. It wasn't easy. He's a warrior and he loves the team."
The Bruins had never had their season end earlier than a Game 7 in Julien's six seasons behind the bench. That's four Game 7 losses to one Game 7 victory for the Bruins with Bergeron on the roster, although he missed the first one in 2008 because of injury. Now despite his best efforts, he won't get a chance to play in what would have been a winner-take-all game Wednesday night.
"It's tough to, like I said, to put words to describe how we're feeling right now," Bergeron said. "You work so hard just to get to this point and give yourself a chance to get the Cup. And you feel like you're right there, and you have a chance to force Game 7, and definitely it hurts. It doesn't work your way. Have to give credit to Chicago. They played a great series. But at the same time, it's the last thing you want to say. It hurts to see them hoisting the Cup."
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