By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
The fact that the St. Louis Blues – who had the worst record in the league as the calendar flipped a little under a year ago – are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions proves what hockey fans have known for decades. As long as a team puts up enough points between October and April, the NHL’s regular season is about as valuable as a season ticket to the Ottawa Senators.
That is, close to worthless.
After falling short in Game 7 at the TD Garden last spring to the aforementioned Cinderella story that was the Blues – largely due to the fact that their most potent line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were making daily trips to the MASH unit on Causeway Street during the Final – the Bruins were once again considered to be a favorite to take home hockey’s most coveted trophy when the playoffs commenced next April.
The start that head coach Bruce Cassidy’s team has had to the current campaign – despite the bitter disappointment of seeing St. Louis celebrate their first Cup in their own barn just a couple months before – only adds credence to that claim.
As was the case for the last two-plus seasons, the top trio – aka, the best line in the NHL – has been the engine that has largely propelled them to their success. And well fast starts in October and November are fine and dandy, short-term memory should tell anyone with any hockey sense that what is most important is being the best – and the healthiest – you can be when the toughest tournament to win in professional sports begins in less than six months from now.
As happens after every end to a playoff run teams will disclose what multiple ailments guys are dealing with after – in the case of those who are fortunate enough to play for the Cup come late June – four rounds of the most intense and physical hockey that is played on the planet.
For what seems to be the umpteenth year in a row, the Bruins revealed that Bergeron – who is unquestionably the heart and soul of their lineup – was dealing with yet another groin injury that hampered him during the playoffs.
Instead of opting for surgery to correct what is most certainly has become a chronic issue for the 34-year-old future Hall of Famer, the game’s most complete player chose to have a Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection that uses a concentration of a patient’s own blood platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
“[The groin issues have] been going on for a few years now and something we talked about over the summer was being able to put it in the past,” said Bergeron at the start of the B’s training camp in early September.
“I should be able to play through it. It’s been there for a long time. With the PRP shot we hope that it’s one of those things where it takes some time for it to work. It’s getting better but it’s still there a little bit. I’m feeling good and I’m feeling positive that I’ll definitely be ready for the start of the season. That’s not even an issue.”
Guess what, it is now an issue. Perhaps the biggest one that could possibly derail any hopes of another extended run in the playoffs this season and cost both him and his team the chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup before the window closes on what is a rapidly aging core for the Bruins.
For their own sake, the B’s brass has to have the common sense to sit Bergeron down for an extended period in order to allow their best player to have a chance to be at his best when the games count the most.
And that is not in November, December, January or even February.
For the second time in less than a month the injury has been bad enough to force the same guy that played Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, a collapsed lung, and a separated shoulder.
It is high time that general manager Don Sweeney, team president Cam Neely, and Cassidy step in and save number 37 from himself. If they don’t do it now, they may find themselves scurrying about to save their season come the spring.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.