BOSTON — Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is an NHL coach’s dream — the rare player capable of excelling in every type of situation at even strength or on special teams.
Known more for world-class defensive play — look no further than his three Frank J. Selke Trophy wins, elite puck-possession ability and faceoff dominance — Bergeron has made a bigger impact offensively this season than we’re normally accustomed to seeing.
Yes, he has scored 30 goals twice in his career and certainly is capable of being a force in the attacking zone, but the Bruins forward is taking his game to another level this campaign, according to linemate Brad Marchand.
“Bergy has always been a phenomenal player, but this year, it seems like he’s on a mission,” Marchand said. “It seems like he has an extra level. It’s a lot of fun to watch him every night.
“He know it’s a big challenge for him this year, and he wants to step up and be even more of a leader and help this team on another level. It’s been fun to watch and fun to play beside him. Hopefully he continues that.”
Bergeron is tied with David Krejci for the team lead in scoring with 28 points in 28 games. Bergeron is on pace for a career high in points and ranks above notable superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Nicklas Backstrom and Steven Stamkos on the league’s scoring list.
Consistency was an issue for the Bruins as a team from a scoring perspective last season, and Bergeron has helped correct this problem with points in 22 of 28 games. In addition to his own goal scoring, Bergeron has used his underrated play-making skills to help his teammates be more productive. The most notable example is his duo with Marchand, who has scored 14 goals in 26 games and is on pace for his first 40-goal season.
Bergeron’s even-strength scoring (13 points) and power-play success (15 points, second-most in the league) have helped the Bruins improve to second in goals scored per game and first in power-play percentage. Boston ranked 22nd and 18th, respectively, in those two categories in 2014-15.
This improved offensive output also has helped the B’s overcome some defensive shortcomings, including injuries to key defensemen and some costly mistakes that have resulted in goals against. Boston is giving up 2.71 goals per game this season compared to 2.45 a campaign ago, but a more consistent power play and finishing a higher rate of scoring chances have overcome this slight defensive decline.
Bergeron is well-known throughout the league as a reliable, all-around player. Let’s face it, you have to be a really good player to be put on Crosby’s wing during the Winter Olympics.
That said, Bergeron is taking his all-around skill set to new heights this season, and it should vault him into the Hart Trophy conversation. Few players have been more valuable to their team than Bergeron over the last four or five years, but he’s never been a Hart finalist.
This could be the season Bergeron finally receives that recognition.
Thumbnail photo via Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron
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