Patrice Bergeron missed 16 games with a shoulder injury after taking a funny hit while the Bruins were on the road in Dallas on November 16th. He was a game time decision as the Boston played their last home game before the holiday break against the Nashville Predators on Saturday, December 22, 2018.

Everyone on the team knows what an important piece he is to the team and to their overall chemistry. To paraphrase a line from Disney’s Return of the Titans, “You cannot replace a Patrice Bergeron.” Though, the Bruins did a great job of picking up and carrying on—showing the character of that room—there was a missing piece.

However, to a man, it was obvious that they were all pleased to see him back on the bench and more importantly on the ice. Watching him play during Saturday’s matinee, it was truly impossible to say he showed any rust.

“Yeah, he was obviously good… Real good composure on the last power play goal to sort of give us a little breathing room, thought it was a real nice play by him,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy shared. “That’s where you worry a little bit with the – when you’ve missed some time is the rust and the speed of the game, are you going to rush plays? But, no he didn’t look like he didn’t miss a beat.”

Bergeron was also happy to be back out on the ice, after having to watch the last 16 games. His passion for the game is unmistakable.

“I was very excited before the game. It’s one of those things where you get that adrenaline and nervousness right before and it’s actually a good thing, you know, I was looking forward to that for a while. So, you know, I was very happy this morning that I was back at it,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re in it, you play for a while – it’s game whatever, 35 of the season – you don’t appreciate it as much. I told [the team] to be thankful because I’ve been missing it for so long. So, it’s one of those things that I was just trying to talk to the guys and be vocal that we’ve got to enjoy it and just go out there and have fun.”

As had been mentioned before Bergeron’s return, Cassidy did break up the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line that had been scoring before Bergeron’s injury. David Pastrnak went to the second line with David Krejci, who had been playing center most recently with Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Danton Heinen moved up to play the right wing with Marchand and Bergeron.

It took a bit of time, but perhaps no one was surprised when Bergeron not only got the first goal for the Boston Bruins, but he got the first goal of the game at 15:10 of the first period. With that the Bruins went into the locker room during the first intermission with the lead.

The second period saw Nashville’s Ryan Johansen tie things up at 13:01. And while the first period had no penalties, the middle frame had three: Matt Grzelcyk (Bruins-hooking, 17:55); Johansen (Predators-interference, 19:04); and Mattias Ekholm (Predators-roughing, 20:00).

Ekholm’s ill-timed roughing on Pastrnak at the end of the second period allowed the Bruins 1:05 of 5-on-3 time to start the third period and then 55 seconds of 5-on-4. While Boston couldn’t capitalize during the 5-on-3, it only took them 39 seconds of the remainder of Ekholm’s time in the box before Bergeron had the Bruins leading once again, and became only the sixth player in Bruins’ history to get 300 goals.

Though Nashville’s Kyle Turris would again knot things up at 9:17 of the third, a tripping penalty called on his teammate Ryan Hartman two minutes later would allow the Bruins back to the man advantage, and they would again capitalize. This time Marchand got the goal, with assists from Pastrnak and Bergeron.  Less than three minutes later a reunited Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak top line would give Boston a little breathing room, when Pastrnak put the puck home. The assists were, of course, Marchand and Bergeron. An empty netter by Sean Kuraly, assisted by Charlie McAvoy and Jaroslav Halak (his second assist this season), gave the Bruins the 5-2 win.

Perhaps Marchand said it best about Bergeron’s return.

“It’s a lot of fun. He is an incredible player. He makes so many great plays. He is so easy to read off of so it’s a lot of fun having him back,” he grinned.

In the end Bergeron had two goals, reached a milestone of 300 NHL goals, and got two assists. Four points in his first game back. He was also 52% on the faceoff. No rust on him.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.


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