No matter how much the Boston Bruins are struggling, one player who can be relied on to step up when the team needs a spark at both ends of the ice is Patrice Bergeron, who along with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is the closest we have to a perfect NHL player right now.
Bergeron always has been a dominant force in his own zone and is expected to win his second Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward this season.
But the real improvement in Bergeron’s game in 2013-14 has been seen in his offensive performance. He scored 30 goals for the first time since 2005-06 and finished with 62 points, his second-highest total since 2006-07.
In many ways, it was Bergeron’s best regular season in black and gold.
“To me, it’s the best I’ve ever seen him play, and in the Olympics, he was terrific,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday at a media session. “And from that point, he’s been amping up his play. He’s such an honest player and you talk about attention to detail — he’s all about attention to detail. … I think he can get better.”
Chiarelli also doesn’t think his top center’s increased goal scoring was a fluke, noting that Bergeron could tally around 35 goals each season.
Bergeron has continued to be one of Boston’s most trustworthy playoff performers this spring. He leads the team with nine points (three goals, six assists), which includes a seven-game point streak.
His sensational tip-in goal off a Torey Krug point shot in Tuesday’s second-round Game 3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens was the top play on the Wednesday edition of ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” which is impressive because NBA superstar LeBron James also played Tuesday night.
He’s also been strong defensively with the third-best faceoff percentage (58.4) among players who’ve taken 190-plus draws, the fifth-best Corsi-for percentage (a puck-possession stat) and a goals-for percentage of 75 percent. He’s also played in 42 percent of Boston’s total penalty-kill time. The truly impressive aspect of Bergeron’s stellar two-way performance is that he’s played against top competition on every shift, evidenced by his solid 29.5 QoC rating.
As good as Bergeron is, he can’t will the Bruins to victory against a quality Canadiens team by himself. He needs the other veteran forwards on the team, specifically Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, to provide scoring production on a consistent basis.
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