BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins are going to start the regular season without one of their top players.
Center Patrice Bergeron is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and did not make the trip Wednesday for the Bruins’ regular-season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Bergeron was injured at the end of practice Tuesday, but the Bruins would not elaborate on the nature of the injury or how it occurred.
Coach Claude Julien held out hope Bergeron could join the Bruins later in their season-opening road trip, which continues against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and ends against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
“It’s not a major injury; it’s minor,” Julien said. “But I’m confident it’s going to be really short term.”
Bergeron has reached the 30-goal mark three times in his career and has won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL three times. Last season, he led the Bruins with 68 points and was second on the team with 32 goals.
Bergeron will be difficult to replace, but the Bruins are banking on their depth to overcome the loss.
“I think we spoke a little bit to our depth in camp and the tough decisions that we were forced with and our coaches and management were forced with. There’s so many capable players,” forward David Backes said.
“And we get to test that a little bit earlier than we hoped. … We’ll all have to pick up some of the load that he carries, which is a huge load for this team.”
Initially it appears Backes will carry a lot of that load. In practice Wednesday, Backes filled Bergeron’s spot at center between left wing Brad Marchand and right wing David Pastrnak.
Marchand and Bergeron have been linemates almost exclusively since the 2010-11 season. So the new combination will take some getting used to. Bergeron has missed just 14 games in the past six seasons.
“It’s disappointing having him not start (the season), but hopefully he’ll be back soon and it just means one of these other guys is going to have to step up and pull a little more weight,” Marchand said.
“(Backes is) a great player and it’s nice to have the opportunity to play with him there, practice with him at least. Hopefully it goes well (Thursday).”
The Bruins also announced that defensemen Adam McQuaid also will not make the trip to Columbus because of an upper-body injury and is day to day. And defenseman Kevan Miller will be out six weeks after surgery for a fracture in his left hand on Tuesday.
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