BOSTON — Bruins G Tim Thomas said he didn't even realize C Patrice Bergeron (mild concussion) returned to practice Monday until he was on the receiving end of a shot.
"He got a good shot off me, I'm like, 'Whoa,' we miss that," Thomas said. "We miss a lot of things that he brings."
A big story line during the Eastern Conference final has been when — and if — Bergeron, the Bruins' top playoff scorer and faceoff man, will play. Bergeron practiced with the team Monday for the first time since suffering the injury in Game 4 against the Flyers, fueling speculation he'd be ready for Game 2 tonight against Tampa Bay.
Coach Claude Julien didn't exactly rule Bergeron out, only saying, "I don't know."
What Bruins W Nathan Horton knew is that Bergeron, who leads the team with 12 playoff points and is key on both special teams units, "looked good."
Bergeron leads the playoffs in faceoff percentage at 64, and the Bruins felt his absence in Game 1, when they won just 39 percent of the draws. The Bruins could certainly use Bergeron's skills on a power play that is 2-for-41 this postseason.
"It'd be nice to have him back as soon as possible," Horton said.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said his team has prepared as if Bergeron would play and expects him to be on the ice.
"We know how important he is to the team," Boucher said. "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.
"It just makes it way harder. So they said they're coming with their 'A' game, and they're coming out with him."
UNSUNG STAR: While Lightning LW Sean Bergenheim has garnered attention for his playoff-high eight goals, linemate C Dominic Moore's great all-around play has gone under the radar.
Moore, who has nine points (two goals, seven assists), is a key reason why the third line has been so successful, as well as the penalty kill unit.
"I'd describe him as the ghost on that line," Boucher said. "He does everything, but Bergenheim gets the credit; (Steve) Downie gets the credit. But when you look at the clips, you realize a big portion of why they're successful starts with Dominic Moore.
"He's been very consistent. I think in his case, more than most of our players, there's a consistency there you can rely on every game, whether it's offensively, defensively, and he's a big part of the culture of the team."
PUNCHLESS: Horton shrugged off the punch he delivered to Moore late in Game 1, which led him to receive a roughing penalty and 10-minute misconduct. "Did I get a 10-minute (misconduct? I didn't even know," he said. "He's not under my skin at all. I'm just trying to play physical, and he was there. It just kind of happened."
MISCELLANY: Bruins C Tyler Seguin, the 2010 No. 2 pick who scored a goal in his first playoff game Saturday, saw some power-play time in practice. … Bergenheim, of Helsinki, Finland, was pumped over his home country's 6-1 win Sunday over Sweden to claim its second world championship, saying he received a lot of texts and the town is buzzing. "It's a great moment for Finland," he said. "It had been 16 years."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.