It’s hard to know what to expect for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals given the uncertainty that surrounds Patrice Bergeron . The Bruins center has skated the last three days and participated in Monday’s practice, but coach Claude Julien  still isn’t saying when the center will be back for the B’s. Amidst the fog that clouds Bergeron’s status, the Lightning have an easy strategy: assume the Bruins’ points leader this postseason will play.
This isn’t the first time the Lightning have been through this, after all. Tampa Bay faced the Sidney Crosby -less Penguins  in the first round, but kept the mindset going into each game that Crosby would return to the lineup. They’re taking the same approach with the Bruins and Bergeron.
“We prepared for him playing for the first game, so we’re preparing for him just like we did with Pittsburgh,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Monday. “We told the players Sidney was going to play every game, and that’s the way we approach it.”
Bergeron has been out for the B’s since leaving Game 4 of the conference finals in the third period following a hit from Claude Giroux. He leads Boston with 12 points in the playoffs, and has arguably been the team’s best player this postseason. As a result, when the Lightning prepare as though he’ll play, they have a lot to prepare for.
“We know how important he is to the team,” Boucher said of the 25-year-old. “He’s a great player. He’s a great individual. And that usually has a tendency to uplift your team in terms of confidence, and we know the impact he’s got on the faceoff. So obviously his team’s going to start with the puck a lot more often.
“It changes a lot of things in terms of the way the game is going to develop. So we’re expecting him to be there for the opening faceoff, and if he’s not, which I highly doubt, I think he’s going to be there. It just makes it way harder.”
Julien clearly isn’t willing to venture to guess as to when the B’s will have Bergeron back, but if Boucher’s guess is correct, the Bruins coach will be happiest of all.