Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron was back on the ice on the team’s off-day, and coach Bruce Cassidy said it will be a game-day decision whether he plays in Game 5 against Toronto on Saturday night.
"We won’t rule him out and we won’t say he’s definitely in," the coach said during the team’s off-day availability on Friday. "But it is a positive he’s back on the ice."
Bergeron missed Game 4 on Thursday with an undisclosed injury — a surprise to the Maple Leafs, who had no warning he was hurt. The Bruins won 3-1 in Toronto to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.
While there was no on-ice workout for the rest of the team Friday, Bergeron skated with a backup goalie and a coach at the practice facility. He did not show any impairment.
Cassidy stressed that even though the Bruins have a cushion in the series that would have no impact on when Bergeron returns.
"The last game, 90 per cent of the time, is the hardest one," Cassidy said. "I can pretty much tell you if he’s cleared to play he’ll be in the lineup. But that’s a medical decision that he has to be comfortable with as well."
A four-time Selke Award winner as the NHL’s best defensive forward and the Bruins’ No. 3 scorer this year with 63 points in 64 games, Bergeron broke his foot while blocking a shot on Feb. 24 and was sidelined for a month. Without him, the Bruins went 9-2-2.
"Unfortunately or fortunately, we’ve had to go to that a little bit in the regular season," defenceman Adam McQuaid said. "So it wasn’t a totally new situation for us."
Bergeron had had five assists in the first two games of the playoffs, centring a line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak that tallied 20 points in the two Bruins wins. After losing Game 3 with the top line held scoreless, Marchand scored a goal and Pastrnak had two assists playing with centre Riley Nash on Thursday.
"They played without him for a while when he broke his foot there and they continued to just keep on rolling," Maple Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey said. "I’m certain they’d rather have him in there. He’s the best player on the ice most nights he’s out there. … It wasn’t like we were doing cartwheels in here when they were missing him. We didn’t think we were going to have an easy night. That’s a great team."