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Injuries Providing Opportunity for Others

Boston must adapt with Bergeron, Chara sidelined

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

DETROIT - Bruce Cassidy needed a couple of moments to think it all through.

Asked what his team will need to do more of with Patrice Bergeron sidelined for at least a month with a rib and sternoclavicular injury, Boston's bench boss rattled off the laundry list of ways Bergeron contributes on a nightly basis.

By the end of his response, Cassidy decided to offer a simpler, more direct description of the areas Bergeron will be missed: everywhere.

"I was just talking to [David Backes] a bit. You can't replace a guy like that," Cassidy said following practice at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday afternoon. "Probably just the 5-on-5 play, how much he's able to kill plays and allow [Brad Marchand] and [David Pastrnak] to play their game and get going on the attack. That's probably the biggest thing.

"Obviously then you go to the penalty kill - game's on the line in Arizona [on Saturday], Noel [Acciari] came though for us - that's another area he would have been out there. Obviously he's our points leader on the power play…everywhere."

Video: Cassidy talks defenseman, Bergeron

Bergeron, who remains the Bruins' leading scorer with 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists) in 19 games, was injured during the second period on Friday night in Dallas after being driven shoulder-first into the boards by Stars forward Radek Faksa. The four-time Selke Trophy winner returned to the ice following a few moments in the dressing room, but played sparingly for the remainder of the Bruins' overtime loss, before flying home to Boston on Monday.

Like Bergeron, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be out for at least a month as he recovers from a left MCL injury suffered in the opener of the road trip last Wednesday night in Colorado - leaving Boston without its two longest-tenured players.

"First of all, it's obviously a big loss. Both of those guys are experienced leaders on this team," said alternate captain David Krejci. "You can't replace them, you're not gonna replace them. But what can we do, we can individually step up here, step up our game, and be leaders in our own way and just do the job.

"These things happen to every team and sometimes it's good to face adversity. At the same time, we have a job to do here and it starts tomorrow."

As they did during their 2-1 victory over Arizona on Saturday night, the Bruins will have to adapt when they visit the Red Wings on Wednesday in Detroit to finish off the lengthy four-game road trip. With Bergeron and Chara joining defensemen Brandon Carlo, John Moore, Charlie McAvoy, and Urho Vaakanainen - the latter two practiced with the team in red non-contact jerseys on Tuesday - on the shelf, many will have expanded responsibilities.

"I think in these situations [when] we have a lot of guys injured - we've had a lot of guys injured - it's part of the game," said Kevan Miller, who is expected to return against the Red Wings after missing the last 13 games with a hand injury.

"At the same time, you can view it as a negative thing or you can use it as a team-building kind of thing to rally around the group that's playing - the guys that are injured support the guys that are playing best they can, and use it as a learning experience. Hopefully you can turn it into a positive."

Video: Miller discusses potential return

Some of those receiving added responsibility include David Backes, Anders Bjork, and Joakim Nordstrom.

"We talked about [David Backes] being on the power play at least for now. It's the least disruptive to that group, putting his right stick in there [for Bergeron as the bumper]," said Cassidy. "And then in the forward lines we moved [Anders] Bjork up from [Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson's] line from Colorado, so he got to play more top-six.

"[Joakim Nordstrom] had to go to the middle - but Nordy plays a lot for us anyway no matter what. He'll move around, play different spots. I guess Bjork, 5-on-5, might benefit a little bit.

"We'll see how it all plays out. It might be a night-to-night basis, who goes where, certain matchups. We're gonna have to manage it until we figure out who best fits where."

Despite all of the moving parts that come with the absences of the team's two most important leaders, Cassidy does not expect his players to alter their approach.

"I don't think you want to change the way you play, you just have to be cognizant that players going in aren't Bergy or Zee," said Cassidy. "They have to be their best selves and maybe you've got to spread out minutes a little more, you've got to be a little more locked into matchups. And part of it is you just have to let the guys play."

Cassidy specifically pointed to the play of Jeremy Lauzon as a prime example of someone taking advantage of the opportunity he's been presented. The 21-year-old was first recalled in late October, playing four games and averaging just under 12 minutes of ice time on Boston's third pairing.

Following an injury to Brandon Carlo during the last homestand, Lauzon was summoned from Providence once again. And after the subsequent injuries to Chara and Moore, the former second-round pick has quickly earned the trust of the coaching staff and has played at least 21 minutes in each of the last three games - with a career-high 24:52 in Dallas.

"I think Lauzon is a good example of that," said Cassidy. "He's gone in and we've just tried to let him play his game. He's big, he's long - he's not Chara long, but he can fill in some of areas that bring some of the things Zee does.

"Competes hard like Zee…left shot, so he's played against other teams' best players, so we've kind of plugged him in there."

Video: Miller Likely, McAvoy and Urho practice

Boston will also have to rely on its remaining veteran players to provide some steady leadership for those young players, both on the ice and in the dressing room.

"Marchy, I said the other night, did a great job of being more vocal, encouraging on the bench to the younger guys [in Arizona]," said Cassidy. "Bergy's very good at that, so maybe it's a little bit of that stuff, the leadership part that you don't see everyday, that they're gonna have to bring.

"If we can get some of our older guys rallying and picking up the leadership part and bring these young kids along and accept that some nights it's not gonna happen because those are key players for you.

"Just have to live with that and try to keep getting better. When they get back, then we'll be hopefully in better shape because these kids have played."

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