By Ty Anderson
It’s become commonplace for playoff warriors to play at less than 100 percent, limping their way into skates and letting the adrenaline of a Stanley Cup run take over. But to think that the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron was even able to walk let alone play with what bothered him at the end of the Stanley Cup Final showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks is legitimately crazy.
With a broken rib, torn cartilage in his rib, a separated shoulder, and a hole in his lung, the 27-year-old Bergeron redefined what a playoff warrior looks like, even if it was in a losing effort for the Black and Gold. Sporting cuts all over his face — obtained through four rounds of play that included high sticks to the nose and even cuts from a fight with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin — Bergeron was the embodiment of what it meant to be a Bruin, and what it meant to be a leader.
“You can’t say enough about (Bergeron),” B’s winger Brad Marchand said of his linemate of three seasons. “He’s a warrior and the fact that he was able to play the whole game, I mean every time I came off the bench I was a little nervous about him and I kind of watched him and I could just see the pain and agony he was in. It was unbelievable to see him play through that and it just gives you that much more respect for him.”
Skating nearly 18 minutes in Game 6, including 1:14 of shorthanded time on ice on a night where the Bruins went 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill, Bergeron’s night only got worse as nerve blockers, a separated shoulder and punctured lung unknowingly gave the 2013 Selke finalist more to combat.
“Before the first period we took some X-rays to make sure after the nerve block that the lungs were fine. But it could have been — I got some more during the game because the pain was coming back, so it could have been from getting the nerve block or from the rib being cracked and getting checked,” said Bergeron on the dangerous-but-mysterious punctured lung he suffered. “I’m guessing during the game because I felt my energy level went down during the game after the second period.
“After Game 6, I kind of had trouble breathing a little bit. I felt like my chest was closing in on me, so the doctors didn’t want to take any chances. There’s an X-ray machine here, but they couldn’t tell really. It wasn’t clear enough for them. Luckily enough they made the right decision because I went there right away and they found out that my lung had collapsed.”
Finishing his playoff run with nine goals and 15 points while playing a prominent role in the Bruins shutting down names like Kessel, Nash, Crosby and Malkin — and the goal scorer on the Bruins’ historic, kick-starting comeback Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs in round one — the alternate captain didn’t want the credit for anything that he knows his teammates would’ve done, too.
“I know all the guys would have done the same thing. I know that at this point, at this stage that you are at, you do everything to win,” said Bergeron. “You put everything on the line to help your team. That's basically what I did.”
But don’t tell that to B’s tough guy Shawn Thornton, a veteran still in awe of Bergeron’s ability to battle through it all. “You can’t say enough about him. He’s an inspiration,” the 35-year-old enforcer said. “He’s a man amongst boys, as far as toughness goes.”