When the general manager of a team comes out to address the media specifically about injuries, it’s generally not a good thing.
So after this morning’s pre-game skate, when Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli stepped out of the locker room for that purpose, fingers were crossed amongst Bruins staffers that there would be some positive news.
After all, the Bruins have not had the best of luck this season with injuries. Andrew Alberts and Patrice Bergeron
have been out since the first half of the season with concussions and many other players have spent time on the injury list. And, most recently, the B’s lost defenseman Andrew Ference
and Marc Savard
in the final game against the Montreal Canadiens, followed by what looked to be another injury to Chuck Kobasew in Tuesday night’s penultimate game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Recently, it seems as if the Black & Gold have some sort of injury jinx on them.
Whispers have come from fans musing about how successful this season might have been if injuries had not plagued so many the team, especially because, even with so many problems, they have already exceeded all preseason expectations and predictions.
“We were talking about man-games lost, this year it’s a lot,” said Ference, who is currently on that injury list. “I don’t know if it’s approaching any records, but it’s definitely a lot, so we’ve definitely dealt with our fair share of adversity.”
The Bruins aren’t feeling sorry for themselves, though. More often than not, their style of play has still come out on top.
“I think we’re lucky that we’re on a team that has a very solid system in place, and that we’ve had success playing with it, because if we weren’t a team that had that, we’d probably suffer a lot more from the injuries,” Ference continued. “But I think when you play with that kind of system, I think it allows guys to step in and assume positions and have a lot more solid base to fall back on, and I think that’s the big difference.
“So, where [having so many medical issues] stinks, I think that we have a nice safety net...in the way we play.”
Many players have been called upon to fill roles they didn’t think they would be performing quite yet, but, in a testament to the strength of the team's locker room, they’ve all done their job and played as a team.
“You just expect guys to step up, whether it’s a variety of different guys, or the young kids, or older players, or whatever,” said goalie Tim Thomas
. “We’ve just got to keep playing as a team.”Patrice passes a test...
Let’s start with the good news of the morning first.
Chiarelli’s official report on forward Bergeron, who has been out since suffering a major concussion and broken nose in October:
“Patrice passed his neuro-psych test, so that’s a good step,” said the GM. “I can’t give you any timetable on when he’ll return – if he’ll return – but it’s a very good step.”
Bergeron took the test earlier this week. Because his recent results matched up favorably to the ones test he took during training camp, he has completed yet another step in his journey to getting back into the game.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Patrice said of the test. “I knew how I was feeling, and I knew I was going to pass the test no matter what.
"But it feels good, and it is a relief in one sort of way.”
However, this does not mean they’re ready to suit Bergeron up and put him in tonight’s starting lineup. Bergeron himself said, he’s felt symptom-free for about a week, but he still needs to work on his conditioning, strength and weight – and start full-contact practices.
“The next step is going to be to practice with contact,” he said. “I did the neuro-psych test yesterday, but I didn’t talk to the doctors yet, so I’m not cleared from [them]. But then, yeah, practice with contact, and after that…I think it’s 10 days with no headaches.”
But, as usual, he’s getting closer and feeling good about the progress.
“I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it feels great,” said Bergeron. “I’m just excited to keep climbing the ladder, keep going step-by-step.”
And, of course, he's ready to throw a shoulder at someone.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he joked. “It should be pretty fun.”Ference: One Day at a Time
Now, the semi-good news.
Chiarelli’s diagnosis of Ference: his knee injury is day-to-day.
“Day-to-day means how it feels from yesterday’s workout,” explained Ference. “If it feels good, I start skating. If it doesn’t feel good, then I have to do a little bit more.”
The defenseman explained that he’s been doing some rehab activities, so the injury seems like a relatively short-term one, but it’s full of waiting.
“I don’t feel great because I’d rather be in [the game],” said Ference, “but it’s not really a bad thing.”
Plus, as one reporter pointed out, the season itself is in the short-term.
“Yeah, that’s why it stinks,” Ference said, “but as long as the guys win, it’s a lot easier to watch.”
Unlike Bergeron, Ference did not make last weekend’s trip to Toronto with the rest of the team. Instead, he found himself with some extra time on his hands, and entered the locker room this morning sporting a Mohawk-style haircut.
“That’s what happens when you don’t go on the trip to Toronto,” he laughed.Heal up Quick, Chuck!
And, the bad news.
According to Chiarelli, “Kobasew suffered a fractured tibia and will be out for four weeks, up to eight weeks, depending on how it heals.”
This means, save a long run in the playoffs, Chuck will remain unavailable.
“It’s very disappointing, especially this time of year, us being in the playoff race,” said Kobasew, holding himself up on crutches, surrounded by a larger scrum of Toronto and Boston media. “But I’ve got full confidence in this team. We’ve had injuries all year long, and the guys have really stepped up.”
But credit needs to be given where credit’s due, and Kobasew definitely deserves a lion's share. He tried to finish the play after being hurt, and even went behind the net to battle for the puck, even though the damage had already been done.
At that point, Kobasew said he was still hoping it wasn’t serious.
“Usually, it’s just a stinger, and you go into the tunnel, and you walk it off, and next shift, you get back out there,” he said. “It just didn’t happen that way.”
In this case, it was just an (un)lucky break – literally.
“Sometimes you can get hit with a wrist shot in the wrong spot, and it can do more damage than a slapshot in another area,” said Kobasew, “so it’s just one of those things.”What about Savvy (and Albe)?
Neither Alberts nor Savard could be found addressing the media in the locker room this morning, but Chiarelli gave a quick update on them as well.
It was very quick in the case of Alberts.
“I have no update,” the GM said.
As for Savard, however, there was some news.
“Savvy, we’re going to evaluate after the weekend,” said Chiarelli, “so he’ll miss the weekend games.”
The B’s top scorer may be sidelined for one of two final bouts against both the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres, as well as tonight’s final game against the Maple Leafs, but, as the team proved up in Toronto a couple days ago, they’re still capable of wreaking some havoc.
As Journey said, “Don’t stop believin’.”