BOSTON – In years to come, when talk turns to Bruins players who were able to suck it up and play through injuries in the postseason, the discussion will be about Patrice Bergeron. And then comes everybody else.
After the Bruins' heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks Monday night, Bergeron said the "body injury" -- as described by coach Claude Julien -- that forced him from Game 5 was, in fact, a broken rib and torn rib cartilage. His trip to the hospital during the third period Saturday night was prompted by the Bruins' fear that the broken rib had ruptured Bergeron's spleen, though that proved not to be the case.
And then, just to make things interesting, Bergeron suffered a separated shoulder Monday night in Game 6. Yet he continued to play.
"He’s a warrior, and he loves the team,” said David Krejci.
“Obviously guys have bumps and bruises, but he’s a guy that you obviously say is the heart and soul of our team," said teammate Tyler Seguin. "He wears that ‘B’ with a lot of pride.”
Bergeron was emotional, just like the rest of his teammates, in the wake of the Bruins' season-ending loss, and was stunned watching his team allow two goals in 17 seconds at the end of the third period to fumble the game away.
“There are not many words that can be said right now,” said Bergeron, who finished with one shot on net and lost 5-on-9 faceoffs while clearly and understandably hampered by his injuries. “It’s definitely tough to lose, especially at this time, after everything we’ve been through. There are not many words that can be said right now. It’s tough.”
Still, it was inspirational to so many of his Bruins teammates watching Bergeron battle fiercely with Marian Hossa through all of the searing pain.
“We’re a close team here, and we knew he was going to play,” said Krejci. “No matter if he plays five or twenty minutes, just to have him on the bench, it gave us a lot of energy. We love each other here. We want to play for each other.
“To have him on the ice and on the bench was great. I was really happy that he was able to play. It wasn’t easy."
Bergeron was still able to muster up enough toughness and grit to play 17-plus minutes, and gave all he could at both ends of the ice while maintaining his typical level of defensive conduct. It’s something that buoyed the spirits of the Bruins players getting ready for Monday night’s Game 6, and made them appreciate the depths Bergeron will go in order to compete.
“I think even when he was getting dressed in the locker room before the game, you could feel the team's sprits lifted," said Seguin. "The year we won he was doing the same thing; fighting through everything."
It’s that willingness to play through the excruciating pain of a broken rib, and sit hunched over on the bench in clear agony after every shift in the name of “team” and “competition” that leave Bergeron as the standard definition of excellence in a Black and Gold uniform.