With the Boston Bruins’ postseason run coming to a crashing end with last week’s Game 6 defeat to the New York Islanders, the yearly tradition of Boston’s top hockey talents unveiling the list of injuries they either played through or limited them was fully upon us during break-up day (via Zoom).
Some will leave your head spinning, but in the case of a few of Boston’s top offensive threats, the updates provided a bit of a relief from the usual news this time of year tends to come with in regards to their health.
Start with some good news: Patrice Bergeron didn't deal with any significant injuries this postseason. And that includes the chronic groin ailments Bergeron has dealt with for what feels like forever at this point.
"I feel fine," Bergeron said. "Obviously, the usual aches and bruises of a season and playoff hockey. The groin held up fine this year, which is great news. I'll take it a year at a time and see how my body feels and all that."
Bergeron, who turns 36 this offseason, posted four goals and nine points in 11 postseason contests this spring.
A Game 5 collision with the Islanders' Adam Pelech left fourth-line center Curtis Lazar in a world of hurt and out of Boston's Game 6 lineup. It was easy to assume the worst given the way Lazar went down, his reaction, and the way he hobbled off the ice without any sort of pressure on his leg. But it was actually a bullet dodged for Lazar, all things considered.
"Sprained my MCL and bruised my ACL, kind of the knee and stuff," Lazar revealed on break-up day. "We feared the worse, we got the best news possible in that situation. But still, it sucks sitting out that last game."
Acquired as a throw-in in the Taylor Hall trade, Lazar totaled two goals and five points in 27 total games with the Bruins (17 regular season, 10 postseason), and is signed through next year at an affordable $800,000 cap hit.
Some more good news? The breakneck speed of the 2021 season did not leave Pastrnak's surgically-repaired hip hurting.
"The hip is actually great," Pastrnak offered. "Obviously, I had a little hiccup during the season with injury but played through and in playoffs I was 100% ready and healthy. Right now, obviously it’s been a pretty long season. Especially, how I said, I was recovering from a hip surgery all summer. Didn’t really have much training. Right now, I actually feel pretty good."
A hit from Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck left Craig Smith with a lower-body injury that knocked him out of Game 1 and held him out of Game 2. Smith returned with an immediate bang with the first goal in Boston’s Game 3 victory, but appeared limited overall, with just one goal and one assist and eight shots on goal over the final four games of the postseason.
"It was a right groin injury," Smith revealed. "I thought our medical care did the best they could there. It was obviously short timing and working a lot of times in games to get things back to where we want them. But we had a couple of days, we took care of it. We were able to manage it from here on out."
Smith will not need offseason surgery.
Concussed on a Game 3 hit from the Islanders' Cal Clutterbuck, Brandon Carlo missed the final three games of Boston's postseason run this spring. It was the second concussion in three months for the 6-foot-5 Carlo, and he doesn't believe that he would've been ready to return before the end of the second round had the B's forced a winner-take-all Game 7.
"Definitely questionable if I was able to make it through the protocol steps," Carlo said when asked if he was going to be available for Game 7. "That’s what we were working towards, but I’m not sure with how I was feeling on the ice that day that I skated, just from dizziness and whatnot from the hit, how that would have gone.
"Overall, I’m feeling very good off the ice. I went and saw one of the specialists here and did some stuff. I feel like the dizziness is starting to subside. Feeling good and encouraged that with this time off I’ll be more than 100 percent going into camp and everything. It’s obviously disappointing, but not sure if I would’ve been able to make it in there just with the protocol steps."
This was Carlo's fourth concussion since Apr. 2017, which is obviously concerning. But Carlo went on to note that he's not concerned about his long-term health, and that he expects to be back to 100 percent by the time 2021 training camp opens.
Depth defenseman Steven Kampfer was not available to the Bruins at all during the 2021 postseason. It seemingly came out of nowhere, too, with the Bruins abruptly noting that Kampfer underwent hand surgery and would be out for the remainder of the postseason. But, as Kampfer explained, it was an injury that simply and gradually got worse and worse.
"It happened in early March right when I first started playing," Kampfer revealed. "I got hit and I played for six weeks on it and then I did all the necessary steps for it of rest. I got a cortisone shot in it to hopefully alleviate the pain and then we moved forward. The pain came back and it was to the point where I couldn’t play. I couldn’t handle a puck. I couldn’t shoot pucks in practice and it was tough. It’s tough for any player because you don’t want to take yourself out of an equation.
"You don’t want to have surgery when you’re getting to that point of the season. It got to the point where we sat down with the trainers and the surgeon and it was the best thing that we could do moving forward."
The recovery in front of Kampfer, who is a pending free agent, is a long one, with another two and a half months to go.
Injured on a blocked shot in Game 1 against the Capitals and out of action for the next four contests, Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon's return to action against the Islanders came with a splint in his hand.
"Obviously, I don’t think it was at 100 percent," Lauzon said. "I got a surgery after the first game in Washington. It was good enough for me to be able to play and play hard. Obviously, it wasn’t an injury that will make me not play in playoffs. I wanted to help my team win every night, so I battled through that. Overall, the hand felt sore, but it was good enough for me to play."
Lauzon noted that he will not need any additional surgery.
Concussed in the first round on a hit from Washington's Dmitry Orlov, Boston defenseman Kevan Miller would've been ready for Game 7 had the Bruins made it possible.
"I took the impact test on Wednesday. Skated with the guys on Tuesday, then took the impact test Wednesday and was cleared for contact Thursday," Miller said. "I would have been good to go for Game 7."
But that didn't happen, which made it three postseasons that ended with Miller watching on the sidelines.
"It doesn't get any easier, that's for sure," Miller said of watching the postseason as a spectator. "It's a tough pill to swallow, you want to be out there. Been down that road, unfortunately. I was super close to being back, most likely would have played in Game 7. That it just makes it even worse, to be honest with you. It's not good.
"It weighs on you, it's not easy. You want to be out there with the guys and helping them win. I think I could have helped. Just get one more game. That's how it goes sometimes, that's hockey. That's life. Just have to turn the page."
Miller, a free agent this offseason, remains unsure what the future holds for him.
The big injury to the Bruins, of course, was the one to Tuukka Rask, as the 34-year-old played with a torn hip labrum.
"I’m going to do surgery," Rask said. "Start the recovery process and then we’ll see what the future holds after that. Hopefully the recovery goes well, and I’ll be ready to play hockey at some point next year."
Rask, a free agent this summer, wants that return to come with the Bruins, too.
"Mentally, I’m up for [returning in 2021-22]," said Rask. "The physical aspect, hopefully everything goes well, like I said, then we’ll probably be looking at January or February return to hockey. That’s kind of the plan and hopefully it works out."
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.