Bergeron, Corvo uncertain for Game 6

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Bergeron, Corvo uncertain for Game 6

The back-to-back playoff games couldnt have come at a worse spot for the Bruins, who may now be without two of their regulars dinged up against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 Saturday afternoon.

Patrice Bergeron left the ice early in his second shift of the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin hit near the offensive blueline that appeared to catch the Bs center in the head. Bergeron waved Bs trainer Donnie DelNegro off when he attempted to approach the center on the bench following the collision, but the two-way pivot only played one more shift for the rest of the contest.

Bergeron looked sluggish and labored during the only shift he hopped out for as a right wing, and he once again ended the shift early when things obviously didnt feel right.

With the Bruins missing their best all-around player from this season, they allowed a pair of third period goals and lost control of the game.

Claude Julien said that Bergeron was actually dinged up when his head smacked into the boards earlier in the game, and the Ovechkin hit was the final blow that got him off the ice.

Im not sure. You get into a game and youre told that a guy is a little injured at that point, and thats all I know, said Claude Julien of Bergeron. Im not quite sure whether it was the Ovechkin hit or a hit earlier where he kind of went into the glass. Thats where I think it started in my mind, but Im not 100 percent sure on that.

Joe Corvo went down in the second period after absorbing a Mike Green slapper to the knee that sent him down to the ice, and resulted in a goal when Corvo couldnt return to the play. The refs didnt blow the whistle when Corvo originally went down, and it essentially created a 5-on-4 situation when the Bs defenseman couldnt get back into the play.

Corvo is down, hes hurt and theres no whistle. So basically hes trying to get up and again, that supposedly is the referees discretion, said Claude Julien. The other night in Washington they felt that a quick whistle was the thing to do. Tonight they decided it wasnt.

The Bs defenseman returned to the bench, but never got back into the game. Benoit Pouliot was forced into playing some defense while the Bruins attempted to get by with five blueliners for 30 minutes of playoff hockey.

Both players were being treated following the Game 5 loss, so their status for tomorrows must-win Game 6 in Washington DC was unknown.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.