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Bergeron Joins Group, But Ruled Out for Saturday

Center, who donned red during Friday's practice, will miss seventh straight game

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

BOSTON - Patrice Bergeron took another step in his recovery from a lower-body injury on Friday, as he joined the team for practice donning a maroon non-contact jersey. Following the session, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy ruled his No. 1 center out for Saturday's tilt against Colorado, which will mark Bergeron's seventh consecutive game out of the lineup.

"Red sweater, that's good," said Cassidy. "He participated in some line rushes. It wasn't a heavy contact practice. Won't play [Saturday], but once you have the red sweater on, you're that much closer. Monday [in Ottawa] now becomes more of a target day for us if there's no setbacks."

Winger Brett Ritchie, meanwhile, was a full participant in Friday's practice and took rushes on a line with Anders Bjork and Par Lindholm. Ritchie, who is on injured reserve, has also missed seven straight games because of an elbow infection.

"Ritchie was skating today, skating better, so another practice under his belt," said Cassidy, who added that the team wants to make sure the winger's conditioning is up to speed. "We'll have to look at that in the morning. If he goes in, obviously we have to take a right winger out or move someone around. But he's very close as well."

Video: Cassidy talks with media following Friday's practice

Should Ritchie re-enter the lineup, it could be for David Backes, who has played well in the three games since his return from an upper-body injury. After potting the eventual winning power-play goal in the third period of Boston's win over the New York Rangers on Black Friday, Backes added an assist on Thursday night in the B's overtime loss to Chicago.

Backes' strong drive to the net created a rebound for Joakim Nordstrom, who whacked it home to jumpstart Boston's three-goal third period.

"I don't know if anything's stood out, just that he's doing what's asked of him," said Cassidy. "Complemented that line, he's been with both Bjork and [Sean] Kuraly, and Lindholm and Nordy. I think both those sets of center and left winger have some speed on the left side, some responsibility in the middle so he fits in easy with both lines.

"Obviously scored a big goal for us on the power play in the bumper, so those parts of his game, it's nice to get a bit of production. Made a play to the net, something we've tried to emphasize a little more of, especially those bottom two lines that are probably going to score more that way; they're a little harder to contain going to the net. That part's all been good, so we'll see where it goes."

One right winger that will certainly not be coming out of the lineup is David Pastrnak, the NHL's leading goal scorer with 25 in 29 games. Pastrnak, however, has been held off the board for the last two games, while being the target of some heavy hits from his opponents over the last week.

"I don't know if it's frustrating," said Cassidy. "I think David feels the best way he can help this team win is by creating offense and scoring…I know he cares more about the team than his own stats. I mean, of course he wants to score, so that could be leading into it. I don't know if it's now become a tendency - we'll see over the next stretch of games. Or it's just a run of, well, Pasta's put himself in spots.

"It's a small sample size, but I'm going to acknowledge it. It has been three or four games; he's taken some hits and some of them were been borderline late. Montreal…Joel Armia finished him, I thought it was a little bit late, didn't get the call. So, we'll keep an eye on it."

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