OTTAWA - As they look to bounce back from two straight losses that snapped both their eight-game winning streak and 13-game point streak, the Bruins will get a pretty big boost on Monday night. After missing the last seven games - and nine of the last 11 - with a lower-body injury, Patrice Bergeron will return to the lineup against the Ottawa Senators for the opener of a four-game road trip.
"It's huge. He does so much for us, not only on the ice but in the room, the way he's able to control the mood," said longtime running mate Brad Marchand. "If we start to slip a little bit, he keeps everybody accountable and can really bring up our positivity and make sure we bounce back. He does so much for our group and obviously he's one of the best players in the world on the ice. Just a huge effect for our group."
Bergeron was back between Marchand and David Pastrnak for Monday's morning skate, meaning one of the league's most dynamic trios will be together for the first time in over two weeks. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes Bergeron's return will provide a spark to his linemates, in particular, who have both been held off the scoresheet for two straight games.
"It will really help March and Pasta," said Cassidy. "They're a good line and they function well as a threesome, so take any one of those three guys out and I think it hurts their performance. We still won a lot of games without Bergy in the lineup. We have good depth, but more for emotion too.
"That's where we lack a little bit of zip in our game. I think it's understandable after a short summer. We knew it would happen. Something like him coming into the lineup or a younger guy giving us a spark, whatever the case is, is usually good for us."
Video: Bergeron returns to lineup in OTT
Bergeron has been heeding the advice of the Bruins medical staff as he's dealt with the lingering lower-body injury, opting to take extra time away from the ice to allow it to settle down. With over two weeks off from game action, Boston's top center is hoping the issue is behind him for the remainder of the season.
"We're trying to get rid of it as much as we can right away and take extra time to do that and make sure I was feeling 100 percent coming back," said Bergeron. "Obviously, you don't want to miss [practice] time, but you hate to miss games. If it needs to take a couple practices here and there and not miss games, obviously that's what I'll do.
"But we took this extra time right now to make sure I wouldn't have to go through that and feel good for hopefully the remainder of the season."
Cassidy said as of now there is no plan to sit Bergeron for either end of this week's back-to-back set in Washington and Tampa.
"Not right now. We'll see how he gets through tonight," said Cassidy. "The medical staff will decide that, but we have not decided on playing him in just one of the games in Washington and Tampa. We suspect he'll be fine to play both. I guess let's get through tonight. He'll play his typical situations, power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5."
Video: Marchand talks Bergeron, first line ahead of OTT
Despite a 3-1-1 homestand, the Bruins lacked some of the details in their game as they saw their eight-game win streak and 13-game point streak snapped. With a four-game road trip on tap, Boston is hoping to use it as an opportunity to shore up some of the areas in which they've been lacking.
"I think it's good…we had a lot of home games, - it's great to play at home, we played well there," said Cassidy. "But sometimes you just need to get together as a group. Our record is good, but we've got a lot of stuff to clean up. Hopefully it doesn't snowball on us. Sometimes when you're on the road you get an opportunity to do that."
The Senators gave the Bruins all they could handle in the teams' last meeting the night before Thanksgiving. Boston was held off the board until the third period, when Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara struck just over three minutes apart to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 victory. Given the way Ottawa locked it down, the Bruins expect to have their hands full once again on Monday night.
"Get through the neutral zone. We had a tough time," Cassidy said of what his team can do better this time around. "I think we had maybe three scoring chances through two periods, so we weren't on our game offensively. That's part of it, playing behind their D. If that's what's available, get some late speed.
"If we're able to make some plays through there, that's step one. They're a hard-working team, they played us hard, they probably deserved a better fate, but we got going in the third and could have gone either way."
Video: Cassidy addresses media ahead of game against OTT
Ottawa has dropped four of five since the teams last met two weeks ago and sits nine points out of a playoff spot as the seventh-place team in the Atlantic Division. J.G. Pageau leads the Senators offensively with 15 goals and 22 points in 30 games, while Anthony Duclair (13-6-19) and Brady Tkachuk (10-7-17) also provided some punch up front.
With starting goalie Craig Anderson out with a knee injury, Anders Nilsson will start between the pipes.
"I think Ottawa plays the right way, they play hard and they have a lot of young players that are gonna be great players in this league for a long time, but plays a good system, a hard system," said Bergeron. "For us, anytime we're facing a team, it's about how we react and how we play and how we're bringing our best. That being said, we know that we need to work for every inch tonight."
Wait, There's More
- With Bergeron back in the lineup, Par Lindholm will be the healthy scratch up front.
- Connor Clifton will remain the scratch on the back end, but Cassidy indicated the young blue liner could see action at some point on this road trip.
- Defenseman Steven Kampfer cleared waivers on Monday afternoon and will report to Providence.
Monday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk
Scratches: David Backes, Connor Clifton, and Par Lindholm.