BOSTON, MA -- Last season's playoff run was marked by relatively few injuries to the Boston Bruins.
This postseason (and regular season, for that matter) was not as kind to the 2011 Stanley Cup champions.
"We were challenged a little bit through injuries," admitted General Manager Peter Chiarelli. "I thought losing [Nathan Horton] and [Adam] McQuaid hurt our size and strength and hurt our balance up front."
Up front, the B's were also bothered by injuries to forwards Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron.
"Tyler [Seguin] made need some surgery on his [left] knuckle, he had a tendon that was detached for a while," explained Chiarelli, going through a mental medical checklist.
"Bergy was injured but he won’t require surgery," added Chiarelli. "He had a strained oblique and he was very debilitated from taking faceoffs as you saw.
"He was in a lot of pain.
"And [Zdeno Chara] with the nose – a broken nose," said the GM.
Physically, all of the B's should recover with some rest and relaxation.
"I honestly thought Horts would’ve been back, but it’s obvious there were some serious implications with that injury and I think he’s on a full road to recovery," said Chiarelli. "I haven’t met with Adam yet today, but I met with Horts and he was good and said he’s feeling a lot better and looking forward to next year.
"And Adam, by tracking his progress in the playoffs, he was coming around and I expect a full recovery."
However, it was clear that from a fatigue and mental standpoint, the Bruins never fully recovered from the rigors of last spring and the ensuing short summer.
"I mentioned that to Peter the other day...I said physically I think we’re okay," began Head Coach Claude Julien. "I think mentally, some players handled it better than others over the course of the season and the short summer and everything else and that’s what happens with teams [that win the Cup].
"I don’t think it makes a player les valuable or less of a better player than others and everyone handles it differently," continued the B's bench boss. "We had some guys that came back and were the same player they were the year before.
"We had some players that really struggled that way [as if] saying, ‘Wow another 82 games. Playoffs, short summer.’ And then basically we played two seasons in less than two years. We played over 200-some games, and even more if you include exhibition and preseason games.
"It’s not an easy task," mused Julien.
However, noting the pressure some of his players were putting on themselves, Julien refused to single out any particular Bruin for criticism or critique.
"I don’t find it fair to throw the blame on anybody, more than [note] how our team was [as a whole]," said Julien. "If you look at our hockey club and this series against Washington...if we could've pulled through Game 7, and I said that the other night, I really think a lot of weight would’ve came off some of our players shoulders and we would’ve picked up the pace going into the second round.
"But, that wasn’t the case and it was tough. Our team as a whole wasn’t the team we know we could’ve been. We didn’t have that energy level you normally see from our team when it’s at its best and that’s the unfortunate part.
"We know there was more in us than what we showed in that first round."
The GM agreed.
"The series itself, I thought was a real exciting series," said Chiarelli. "We obviously didn’t score a lot of goals, and you know coming from a team during the regular season that scored...a lot of goals.
"A lot of them were in the front end of the year, but we certainly have the talent skill to score so credit to Washington. I think defensively we had a good series. I think offensively, we didn’t score at the time we had to score and I think we could’ve.
"So, I think that’s an area we’ll have to improve -- I will improve -- that we’ll figure out as the summer goes on."