Report: Bergeron will play in Game 3

After missing the first two games of Boston’s Eastern Conference final series against Tampa Bay with a concussion, playmaking centre Patrice Bergeron will reportedly be in the lineup for Game 3 barring a last-minute setback.

ESPN’s Joe McDonald reports that Bergeron has been medically cleared and will return tonight. His addition to the lineup is an obvious boost for an offence that’s already clicking after scoring six goals Tuesday night, and 18 over Boston’s last four playoff games. Bergeron is now second on the team with 12 playoff points, but still first in assists with 10.

The inquisitive minds in Boston can now turn their lineup obsessing towards who should get a seat to clear space.

That’s a question we pondered yesterday, at the time operating under the obvious assumption that even Claude Julien wouldn’t sit Tyler Seguin (an assumption that was later confirmed). In truth, the answer lies somewhere in a pile of split hairs.

Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille remain the leading candidates to watch Game 3 from high above. Thornton’s primary skill is his ability to piss people off, a character trait that’s not particularly unique when looking at the rest of the Bruins’ roster.

Thornton saw far more ice time than Paille during the regular season, with Paille actually a healthy scratch 35 times. But now with the Bruins three wins away from their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990, Paille’s superior speed and penalty killing ability are greater assets, far greater than Thornton’s tough guy style that can be found in abundance elsewhere. Thornton only one playoff point and has played dead, useless minutes, logging 4:48 of five-on-five hockey in Game 2, while Paille is clearly valued on the PK after playing 2:37 with the Bruins down a man, which put him behind only Gregory Campbell.

Thornton is a living, breathing embodiment of those tired hockey axioms like “grit” and “sand paper.” He has an important role, but one that’s easily expendable on this roster.