Patrice Bergeron expected to return for Bruins' home opener
BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins won twice and lost once during their season-opening trip despite missing center Patrice Bergeron because of a lower-body injury.
When they host the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden in their home opener Thursday night, the Bruins are expected to have their scoring leader back.
Bergeron, an alternate captain and a three-time 30-goal scorer, practiced with the Bruins on Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena for the first time since he suffered the injury near the end of practice Oct. 12. There's a strong possibility he will be back in the lineup against the Devils.
''Of course. I want to be (back) as fast as possible,'' Bergeron said. ''That's the talk I've had all week with (the medical staff). But at the same time you have to respect their opinion that they're the ones that are putting the team and my interest in front and making sure we're all taking care of that. So we'll see what happens. Obviously I'd like to be on the ice, but ... hopefully I feel good tonight and tomorrow morning and we can go from there.''
Bergeron said he felt fine after going through the entire practice and not being limited in his activities. He wouldn't get more specific about his injury and would only say, ''It was in practice. I just hurt myself.''
Bruins coach Claude Julien expects to have Bergeron in the lineup.
''Unless I'm told otherwise today or tomorrow when he comes in and feels any different, I think we're hoping he's going to be in the lineup,'' Julien said.
The Bruins made do without Bergeron by moving David Backes from right wing to center between Bergeron's expected linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The line of Backes, Marchand and Pastrnak combined for 16 points in the Bruins' three games. Bergeron is expected to get his old spot back with Backes moving to another line.
The Bruins, who start a three-game homestand against the Devils, were 17-8-6 last season and their home struggles contributed to their missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second straight season. Coming off a relatively successful road trip, Boston knows it needs to exercise some home dominance to prove it's an improved team.
''We all know we've still got to improve as a hockey club,'' Julien said. ''And there's areas where we need to be better. But the fact that we were able to get through this road trip with a bunch of new players, the first road trip, and come out of there with a winning record is a good thing. So we've got to follow it up with this short home stretch here and hopefully we can build on that.''
Having Bergeron back should help the Bruins' attempt to keep improving.