The NHL’s Western Conference semifinals have become knock-down, drag-out affairs, with a series continuing in Nashville last night and another in Detroit tonight.

Unlike the teams that engineered two Eastern Conference sweeps, the four remaining teams from the West have had trouble putting their opponents away.

And that is a good thing for the Bruins.

The Bruins have been sitting idly by since they eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.

Players were given the entire weekend off, fans were put on hold waiting to see when the next round would begin.

Most importantly, Patrice Bergeron was given more time to heal.

Bergeron left Friday night’s game in the third period after a shoulder-to-head hit from Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux. The Bruins center did not return. He had suffered a “mild concussion,” the third known concussion Bergeron has sustained in the last three and a half years.

As we now know, the term “mild concussion” is misleading.

There is no simple course of action following a head injury. Concussions are not like broken bones on sprained ligaments. They cannot be prescribed a two-to-four or six-to-eight week healing period. They can last months or longer, leaving the injured player and his team in limbo.

For the Bruins, the loss of Bergeron is a major blow. Through two rounds of Stanley Cup playoff action, Bergeron was one of the league’s top playoff scorers.

He has won more than 64 percent of his faceoffs, and was centering a line with veteran Mark Recchi and rookie Brad Marchand that had combined for 30 points in 11 playoff games.

The Bruins/Lightning series could’ve begun as early as tonight if the Western Conference quarterfinals were over.

But former Portland Pirates coach Barry Trotz and his Nashville Predators survived a Saturday night in Vancouver to bring the series back to the Music City last night.

The Red Wings battled back with a win over San Jose on Sunday; now those teams play in Detroit tonight.

So Boston and Tampa Bay wait. The series will begin later this week at the TD Garden, the Bruins getting home ice advantage in their first appearance in the conference finals since 1992.

The extra time gives Bergeron more time to rest. There is no way of knowing when he will return to the playoffs. With that in mind, the Bruins need to move on under the assumption he may not be back at all.

The extra time off gives the Boston coaching staff time to plan in case he does not return.

It gives rookie Tyler Seguin, the number two pick in last summer’s draft, more time to practice with the active roster instead of skating with the “Black Aces” when the big boys have gone back to the dressing room.

It gives Coach Claude Julien more time to figure out how Seguin will fit into the lineup.

On Friday night, after Bergeron left the game, Julien used Chris Kelly with Recchi and Marchand.

He may choose to do that again, leaving Seguin on the fourth line. Or he may just use Rich Peverly.

Or he may mix up the entire lineup. It’s unlikely Julien would risk the possibility of interfering with the team’s successful chemistry, but one never knows.

It has taken the Bruins 19 years to get back to this point. We knew waiting a few more days wouldn’t hurt anyone.

As it turns out, that extra wait could be a big help.


Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.