When Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron left Thursday night's regular season finale against the Montreal Canadiens early with an upper body injury, head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters after the game that the veteran center was "fine".
In fact, the team's tweet during the game announcing Bergeron would not return to the action at the Bell Centre used the word "precautionary."
Bergeron didn't practice Saturday and he didn't skate with his teammates on Sunday, either.
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What's going on? Will he play Monday night when the Bruins open the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden with Game 1 of their first-round series against the Florida Panthers?
"That’s to be decided tomorrow," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena. "If he feels well enough, he’ll play. … Patrice doesn’t need extra days of practice. If he feels better, he'll play."
When asked if Bergeron is dealing with an illness or an injury, Sweeney responded, "a little bit of both."
We all know how important Bergeron is to the Bruins' success in all three zones. He has scored 20-plus goals in 10 consecutive seasons, he's the best defensive forward in the sport and he's one of the best leaders on and off the ice.
Bergeron is also one of the toughest players in the league and has shown many times in previous playoff runs that he's capable of playing through pain.
If Bergeron is unable to play in Game 1, the most likely scenario from a lineup perspective is Pavel Zacha moving up to center the first line with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk. Zacha is a natural center but has played mostly left wing during his first season in Boston.
Sweeney said he has "a lot" of confidence in Zacha being able to play well at center if needed.
Puck drop for Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.