Ahhh, a familiar headline for a familiar story. A key player is hurt, he skates at practice, and he makes a vague statement about his playing status. Throw in the coach echoing that vague statement, and we have the typical playoff gameday frenzy about an injury that could have a major impact on the outcome of a game.
Today–and the last few days for that matter–our subject is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim, the statistical anomaly who has nine goals in these playoffs after scoring 14 times in his 80 regular season games. Bergenheim left Game 5 in the first period with an undisclosed injury, but the widespread belief is that “undisclosed” in this case is playoff code for groin.
Bergenheim skated prior to Game 6, but he was only wearing sweats. He then missed Tampa’s win that forced tonight’s Game 7 against Boston, and today he took a minor step forward, ditching the track pants in favour of full gear at practice. But that didn’t improve the outlook of Lightning head coach Guy Boucher.
Boucher is uncharacteristically candid regarding injuries, at least compared to the tight-lipped standards set by his fellow coaches during the playoffs. He used guarded pessimism when speaking to the media Friday afternoon, if such a thing exists.
“I wouldn’t say optimistic for now. It’s better. He might try the warm-up. We’ll see, I’ve still got to talk to my therapists and doctors. There’s been some improvement. To what extent, we’ll have to wait and see but he’s doubtful.”
That last word there is clearly key, and it no doubt stings the heart of Lightning fans. Bergenheim has played a vital role in the success of Tampa’s third line alongside Dominic Moore and Steve Downie. The line had been scoring while also hounding the opposition’s top players and drawing penalties.
With Dwayne Roloson looking more like a 41-year-old goalie rather than a playoff hero, this series hasn’t developed into the goaltending battle many anticipated. Instead the focus has shifted to offensive muscle, with a combined 14 goals scored over the past two games. That’s not the kind of environment that looks kindly on a team that’s one win away from the Stanley Cup Final and is missing a player who led the playoffs in goals just two days ago.