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Bergeron becoming focal point of B's depleted roster

by Adam Kimelman /
PHILADELPHIA -- Battered and bruised, the Boston Bruins arrived here for Thursday night's game against Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET, NHL Network) with a smile on their face.

Despite missing top forwards Marc Savard (broken foot) and Milan Lucic (broken index finger), they were able to skate past the Nashville Predators, 3-2, Wednesday night.

With a new-look lineup that included rookies Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand, it was veterans Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder and Steve Begin scoring the goals.

"First period, it was almost like we were trying to get a feel for each other and playing on our heels a little bit," said coach Claude Julien. "Basically, we were playing afraid to lose. But at some point you've got to start playing to win and have confidence in your team. For the most part our lines got better as the game wore on. Hopefully it bodes well."

It needs to, as the Bruins will be without Savard and Lucic for at least a month each.

"You can't replace Savvy or Lucic with one guy," said Bergeron. "Everyone's got to step up. We can't put the excuses on the guys who we're missing."

"Guys have stepped up for me in previous years. I guess I'm on the other side now." -- Patrice Bergeron

The lines in Nashville featured Bergeron between Marchand (in his first NHL game) and Ryder; David Krejci centering Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi; Trent Whitfield between Sobotka and Blake Wheeler; and Begin centering Daniel Paille and Byron Bitz.

The key player going forward will be Bergeron. He played just 10 games in 2007-08 due to a concussion and still wasn't really himself last season, when he played just 64 games. This season, he has 3 goals and 6 points in eight games.

"Guys have stepped up for me in previous years," said Bergeron. "I guess I'm on the other side now."

"For me, Patrice has probably been our best and most consistent forward since the beginning of the year," said Julien. "Every game, he's been a pretty good player. Even in those games where we haven't played well, at the end of the night, you could say that he was one guy that was there for us. It's nice.

"He's got a couple guys who can produce on his line and certainly gave him that little boost. The youth in Marchand, and I find that Ryder has been skating much better the last three games or so. He seems to have picked up his skating. It made for a pretty good line."

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