BOSTON - It's all about perspective when you ask the Boston Bruins about their respective experience at the Olympics.
For centre Patrice Bergeron, Canada's 3-2 overtime win over the United States on Sunday in Vancouver couldn't have been scripted any better.
"Yesterday and after the game on Sunday it was more of a surreal kind of experience and it was hard to kind of sink everything in," he said Tuesday after rejoining his Bruins teammates. "Obviously, it was a great two weeks but just a perfect way to end it."
The gold medal winner for Team Canada was back at practice but did not skate because of a sore groin that was tweaked in the gold medal game.
The injury, which Bergeron termed minor and day-to-day, hardly took away from the experience.
"It was awesome," he beamed with a tired but very satisfied smile. "It was a great experience. It was a lot of fun, and obviously winning that gold medal means even more and it was really a special moment."
As for the medal, he was very careful to keep it in his possession as he made his way across the continent to Boston on Monday. On Tuesday night, it was in a display case along with his Team Canada jersey and Tim Thomas' jersey and silver medal at the TD Garden during the Bruins' game against the Montreal Canadiens.
"It's here right now," he said. "I wanted to show it to the guys and to the trainers and all that, so I brought it with me. At the airport, it was on me at all times. I didn't want to lose it."
The experience of the last two weeks is finally starting to settle in for Bergeron.
"It was unlike anything I've seen before. Obviously, it was amazing, as soon as we won, people in the streets went crazy. We could see on TV that everywhere across Canada was going wild. It was awesome. It was great to see all of that."
Bergeron was the only one of six Bruins Olympians not to skate on Tuesday morning, hours before their night game against the Montreal Canadiens. Zdeno Chara, Marco Sturm, Tim Thomas, Miroslav Satan and David Krejci were all expected to be available for the team's first game back following the Olympic break.
"We'll deal with that part of it as we move on here," coach Claude Julien said. "There's days were we don't play and I think we'll probably be able to afford giving them some days off that way more than giving them a game off. I think missing a practice isn't as important as missing a game."
Thomas was the lone Bruins representative on Team USA. He said the crowd for Sunday's game was great but still not up to the standards of the Bruins and Canadiens in the playoffs.
"It was exciting but the emotions of the crowd went from elation when they got up 2-0, to very nervous and tense when we tied it up with 24 seconds left. And then all through overtime it was pretty tense until Crosby got that goal and then there was elation again," Thomas said. "We had a good portion of USA fans there, too. It was a great atmosphere but as far as just crowds go, still nothing has matched the Montreal-Boston games in the playoffs, even the Olympics."
Also Tuesday, the Bruins acquired defenceman Cody Wild from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forward Matt Marquardt and sent a conditional fourth-round draft pick to Anaheim for defenceman Steve Kampfer.