TAMPA, Fla. -- After a 13-day layoff, Patrice Bergeron returned to the Boston Bruins lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals – and looked like he’d never left.
The No. 2 center had a huge impact in Boston’s 2-0 win Thursday night, a victory that puts them up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Bergeron played 19:13, seeing time on both the power play and the penalty kill. He had two shots, one blocked shot and won 18 of the 28 faceoffs he took for a 64-percent success rate.
Bergeron suffered a concussion in the later stages of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia, but got an extra week of rest after Boston swept that series and waited more than a week to finally start this series against the Lightning.
After the Game 3 win, Bergeron met with the media.
Q: Can you talk about how you felt out there being back, and when you were sitting out, did you project all along, you were hoping to get back for this game or was it just when it occurred?
A: I felt pretty good out there. I was pretty happy to be back to help the team. And no, I didn't know which game; it was more a matter of taking it a day at a time. It felt good for the past week. So I decided I was ready to go, and I had some practices this week. I had a little bit of contact with the extra guys on game day last game. I felt good.
Q: Patrice, was there ever a moment -- you may have already answered this, but was there ever a moment at all during this process where you thought you might not come back this postseason?
A: You know what, from my experience, I tried to take it a day at a time. I didn't want to put pressure on myself. When you do that, it can make it worse. So obviously I was confident. I knew it was mild, and I felt good. But we didn't want to take any chances, any risk. And I felt like today was -- I felt good.
I was confident that I was ready, and the doctors and trainers were in the same boat as me. So it was time for me to be out there.
Q: Could you talk about the way the team played tonight in comparison with the other night in Boston when it was a wild game?
A: Obviously the last game wasn't really the way that we wanted to play. It was pretty open. Obviously they have a lot of firepower up front, so we tried to avoid that. Tonight, overall, it was a great team effort. Everyone stepped up, and we all played well. We all played our role. And that's how we win.
Q: Can you say what your mood was the night you got dinged, and given your history, were you really down about it?
A: Yeah, obviously I wasn't very happy. I was pretty disappointed, especially at that time of the year. You know, you want to be out there, you want to help your team. So I was pretty happy with that big win (in Game 4 against Philadelphia). Gave me some time to, first of all, to rest;, but I didn't miss too much time, which I was pretty happy about. Obviously that first night was frustrating, and it was hard to take. But I thought I stayed pretty positive in the process again. I mean, obviously it's behind me. I'm looking forward and I'm happy it was mild like it was.
Q: Was there anything out there tonight that you feel wasn't where you exactly wanted to be? There is a build-back process in this, but be it even strength or penalty kill or anything like that?
A: To be honest with you, I felt pretty good out there. I felt like I was myself. I felt good.
Maybe in the first period I was kind of keeping things simple, which I think it's pretty normal, you know, coming back from -- I missed two weeks. Even though I only missed two games, it was two weeks. So I kept it simple, and as the game went on, I felt like I was feeling better. I think it's about making plays, making sure when I have the puck, just know where my teammates are out there in the offensive zone, and I felt like it got better as the game went on.
Q: Bergie, how important was the first hit to take tonight?
A: It was. But at the same time, I wasn't worried. Like I say, I was confident. I was ready. I was back 100 percent. When you're like that in your mind, you know you're fine. I wasn't really worried about that first hit. I knew I was going to be all right.