Bergeron, Campbell work together before return

Bergeron, Campbell work together before return
September 17, 2013, 4:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

WILMINGTON -- Patrice Bergeron and Greg Campbell both skated on Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena. Both hustled. Both battled. Both were the last players to leave.

It was the second of two groupings, as the first practice group was in the air, en route to Washington, D.C. for Tuesday night's preseason game against the Capitals.

Campbell and Bergeron set up their own conditioning and battle drills and took part in them on one side of the ice while the rest of the group did work down the other end.

You got the feeling they're getting closer.

"We're trying our hardest," said Campbell afterwards. "We're trying to work out the kinks right now. It's nice to have somebody as competitive as [Bergeron] to test me. We both feel like we're trying hard. We were just actually agreeing on the fact that, you can work as hard as you want off the ice, but once you translate all that work to on-ice, it always seems like you're still a step behind. So I guess this is the last kind of phase to conquer, the on-ice part of it, and really getting in on-ice shape."

Being in shape and being in "hockey shape" are two completely different things. It makes it that much more difficult when you're trying to get into hockey shape while recovering from a punctured lung or a broken leg.

That's the world Bergeron and Campbell are currently living in. And as the rest of the team will take part in its second preseason game on Tuesday night, the question remains: When will Bergeron and Campbell return?

"To be honest with you, I think I'm ready to play," said Campbell after Tuesday's skate. "And I think Patrice [Bergeron] might feel the same. But we're both kind of cut from the same cloth, as far as the standards that we have of ourselves and the level of conditioning that we want to be at. A lot of it's mental, so I think we're in the same position as everybody else."

Bergeron wouldn't come out and say that he's "ready" to play. But he did say he's "close," and that his return to game action was no longer his call.

"It's more the trainers and what they think," said Bergeron.

"I feel pretty good," he added. "I feel like I'm close to being ready to play in games. Playing a game is always the answer you need. That's the only way you can feel better and feel more comfortable in your game shape."

While Bergeron's return might be in the trainer's hands, Campbell believes his return is up to the coach.

"I saw the doctors on Friday, the surgeon that did my procedure, and we both agreed that I'm ready to play," said Campbell. "The bone might not be 100 percent healed yet, but the odds of me re-injuring it are the same odds as me re-injuring the other side, the healthy side.

"It's in Claude's hands now."

As Bergeron and Campbell had an entire side of the ice to themselves on Tuesday, their battle level in the corners made it feel as if their return is right around the corner.

And afterwards, they made it sound as if the only obstacles for each, were mental.

"The thought process now is just, working through it," said Campbell about the broken leg he suffered while blocking a shot in the Eastern Conference Finals. "There's pain that's going to be expected for a little while. So it's not something that's going to really hold me back. It's just something that I'm going to have to tolerate.

"I still feel it, so it's not like it's completely out of my mind," added Campbell. "It's something that I have to deal with. A broken bone's a broken bone. I've had a number of them, and it takes a while for you to not be able to feel any effects of it. So I feel good to take a shot there and know that the likelihood of me re-injuring it is not good."

Bergeron, who expects to play in a preseason game, also still feels some pain. He'd just like to have peace of mind about the pain he still feels after puncturing that lung in the Stanley Cup Final.

"I still feel it a little bit when I battle," said Bergeron. "Now it's about knowing and talking with the trainers, if it's just normal and if I'm going to have to go through that for another month or so, or if it's just still not a good idea to get into the game. So it's just about knowing what that little pain is right now. It's just about managing that and going from there."