BOSTON — Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is known across the NHL as one of the best two-way forwards in hockey today. That usually comes with the distinction, though, that Bergeron’s game is rooted in his defense prowess.
As of late, however, the Boston center has been an offensive force. Bergeron scored two more goals Thursday night in helping the Bruins win their 13th game in 14th tries with a 3-0 victory over the high-powered Chicago Blackhawks. Bergeron now has a career-high five-game goal streak and has eight tallies in the Bruins’ last 10 games.
This offense, at least the offensive skill, isn’t exactly newly found, though. Bergeron has always been an offensively talented player, but the work he does in his own end often overshadows that. Bergeron’s willingness to do all of the little things in all three zones has no doubt cut into his offensive output. While he’s not really doing anything different right now, he’s seeing offensive results at a rate he’s never really seen before.
“The puck’s going in I guess,” Bergeron said. “There’s not much to say about it. It’s just you get those chances sometimes during the year and it doesn’t go in and now it is. Obviously it’s great any time I can chip in offensively and keep my two way game, I’m happy with it.”
That’s the thing: Bergeron’s two-way game is still as strong as it’s ever been. His line spent most of Thursday night checking Chicago’s top line led by another two-way superstar in Jonathan Toews. Going up against one of the game’s best faceoff guys in Toews, Bergeron won nine of 13 draws against Toews and 15 of 21 faceoffs overall. The Blackhawks’ first line was held to just four shots on goal.
“I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that’s watched him play that he values every part of his game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron. “Whether it’s faceoff percentage, whether it’s plus/minus, whether he’s responsible for a goal against – he takes those things every seriously and he’s hard on himself when it comes to that. So, I think he’s proud of what he is. He’s comfortable in the role that he’s asked to play and at the same time, it’s always nice to see guys like that get rewarded with some decent stats, which he deserves.”
It’s unrealistic to think that Bergeron — or any player really — can keep this type of rapid offensive production going as he moves forward. Bergeron’s shooting percentage sits at 40 percent over the five-game scoring streak, which is 30 percent higher than his career rate. Be that as it may, this hot streak is a reminder of just how good Bergeron can be, especially when he’s getting a bounce or two along the way.
Bergeron now sits at 25 goals on the season, and he could ultimately make a push for 30. He’s reached that mark just once when he scored a career-high 31 goals in 2005-06.
“Obviously, that’s part of my game, also it’s to help out offensively and scoring goals and creating plays,” Bergeron said. “I’m definitely happy it’s going in but that being said, I’m happy when I defend a goal as much as scoring them.”
He’s only 28 years old, and if he’s able to stay healthy, Bergeron could just now be entering his prime. If he’s able to improve upon what he is now — and he’ll certainly work hard enough to do so — that may end up being a scary thought for the rest of the league as they think about what he can still become.