WILMINGTON, Mass. (AP) -Simply by taking the ice, Patrice Bergeron gave his Bruins teammates a lift Monday even though he won't suit up for their playoff opener.
As Boston prepares for its first postseason appearance since 2003-04, the center was cleared for contact in practice for the first time since suffering a serious concussion in October. The Bruins open their best-of-seven series against the Canadiens on Thursday night in Montreal.
``He was cleared for full contact,'' said general manager Peter Chiarelli, who added that Bergeron won't play in Game 1. ``We'll see how he responds. And then, at some point, we'll make a determination.''
After skating with the team in practice, Bergeron came out for about 45 minutes to work on shooting and puck-handling drills with assistant coach Doug Houda.
He began to practice last month but could only hit his teammates, not be hit.
``I'll ask the guys to kind of be pushing me around a little bit because obviously, if I get back into a game, Montreal's not going to give me any favors,'' Bergeron said. ``I obviously need to be smart with this and feel good in practice and be honest with myself.''
His teammates already feel better.
``He's a big part of this franchise,'' center Marc Savard said. ``For him to be out there and skating around, it's a big motivating factor for sure. But, in the same sense, we want him to feel comfortable and get him back 100 percent.''
Savard and Bergeron were considered the Bruins top two playmakers going into the season. But Savard, their leading scorer, missed the last seven games of the season with a broken bone in his back after being hit by Montreal's Steve Begin on March 22.
Savard hopes to resume practicing Tuesday, but Boston is without another top scorer, Chuck Kobasew, who is out 4-8 weeks with a fracture in his lower left leg.
Bergeron doesn't know when he'll play in a game.
``I have no idea,'' he said. ``There's a not a game that I pinpointed that I want to choose. I'm not going to play on Thursday, that's for sure. After that, it's up in the air and see how I feel in practice.''
Bergeron was knocked unconscious in his 10th game of the season on Oct. 27 when Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones hit him from behind and smashed his face into the glass.
``Right now, he can't play,'' Boston coach Claude Julien said. ``We're not going to get ahead of ourselves and I need to really deal with the players I have.''
Glen Metropolit and Glen Murray missed practice Monday but are expected to be ready for Game 1.

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Predators vs. Islanders Pick Can the Nashville Predators pick up an important road win when they take on the New York Islanders tonight at...
Thumbnail Wild vs. Red Wings Prediction Are the Red Wings a good bet to beat the Wild today at 12:30PM ET when they host Minnesota in one of their final home games?
Thumbnail Blackhawks vs. Panthers Prediction Are the Blackhawks a good bet to beat the Panthers tonight when the two clash at 7:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Stars vs. Sharks Prediction Will the Dallas Stars pull off the upset tonight as a home underdog versus the San Jose Sharks at 8:30PM ET?
Thumbnail Hosts still pushing for playoff spot   Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews snapped a seven-game goalless drought when he potted his 32nd marker of the season Saturday. Can Ontario’s darling carry that...

NHL Team Pages