BOSTON -- As the time on the clock slipped to less than two minutes to play in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said he had two thoughts.
One, that his team with a 2-1 lead was about to push the Chicago Blackhawks to Game 7.
Two, that he'd have to go through a heck of a lot more treatment in order to play in a do-or-die game with the Cup on the line two nights later.
Bergeron was spared having to repeat the difficult process he went through in order to play in Game 6. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, and the series. Instead of returning to Chicago, Bergeron headed to the hospital, where he remained for a couple of days.
Patrice Bergeron - PLAYOFFS
Center - BOS
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 15
SOG: 71 | +/-: 2
After Game 6, Bergeron revealed he was playing with a cracked rib and some cartilage damage on his left side. And during the first period, he had fallen awkwardly into the boards and dislocated his right shoulder. Later, a small puncture was found in his lung.
"After Game 6, I kind of had trouble breathing a little bit," Bergeron said during a meeting with the media at TD Garden on Tuesday, his first comments since the night of that game. "I felt like my chest was closing in on me, so the doctors didn't want to take any chances. There's an X-ray machine here, but they couldn't tell, really. It wasn't clear enough for them. They wanted to make sure, and luckily enough they made the right decision because I went there right away and they found out that my lung had collapsed."
Bergeron, who finished the playoffs with nine goals and 15 points in 22 games, said he's feeling "a lot better" more than a week after the Bruins' last game. For the first time, the secrecy of the playoffs was pulled back and he was able to describe the timeline of his injuries.
During Game 4 of the Final, his ribs were injured after a hit by Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik. A second hit, in the first period of Game 5, knocked Bergeron out of that game after two shifts in the second period. He later was taken to the hospital, and Bergeron said doctors were concerned about the condition of his spleen after the second hit.
He was released from the hospital and able to fly back to Boston with his teammates the day after Game 5, then had to decide whether to play Game 6.
"In my mind, for sure, I wanted to play," Bergeron said. "I was hoping for the pain to go down, but it wasn't the case. After Game 5, I was in a lot of pain, but the next day I was just trying to find a way to manage the pain, I guess. It was definitely there, and on Game 6 we met with the doctors and they were trying to tell me that the only way I could play was to have a nerve block. Otherwise the pain would be too high, and so I did that in order to play."
He played 17:45 in Game 6, but the pain relief he got from a nerve block that numbed his rib cage area didn't last all game, and he needed more treatment from the team's medical staff.
Despite Bergeron's best efforts, the Bruins' attempt to extend the series fell short. All the team was left with were some great tales about a lengthy playoff run, including the story of Bergeron's willingness to play through intense pain. However, he doesn't want to brag about his exploits.
"I don't know if there's pride. Some people would say it's stupid," he said. "But it just goes with the way it is. You don't think at that point. You're just trying to help the team. You try to do whatever it takes. You obviously don't want to put your health in danger. We had this conversation with the doctors. You never know what's going to happen in a game, so there's always a risk, but at the same time, it's our passion. It's what you want to do. You want to definitely win, that's the most important thing, and at that stage, at that point.
"There's no regrets on my part, I'll tell you that, but I don't know if there's necessarily pride. I just did whatever any other of my teammates would have done."
Bergeron will turn 28 this month, and he's heading into the final season of his contract with the Bruins, who drafted him in the second round in 2003. The Bruins are the only organization he's ever known, and he's played more than 600 regular-season and playoff games in black and gold. He has 153 goals, 280 assists and a Selke Trophy to his credit.
There's hope on his part to work out a long-term contract to stay in Boston.
"It would mean a lot," Bergeron said. "That's the goal since the beginning. It's a team that believed in me when I was 18 and when I was coming up and now, like I said before, it's my home. I feel like it is, and I love the city. I love the people. Definitely love the organization. So it would mean a lot to me, and hopefully we can work something out."