Looking back and ahead: Patrice Bergeron
|05.09.12 at 7:02 pm ET|
With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 81 games played, 22 goals, 42 assists, 64 points, plus-36 (career-high, led NHL)
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 ($5 million cap hit)
Looking back: Bergeron was healthy as a horse in the regular season for the B’s, as the only game he missed came when Claude Julien gave him the day off against the Senators in the team’s second to last game of the season.
It was the playoffs, of course, when Bergeron being injured really hurt the Bruins. Bergeron tore his oblique in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals. The injury forced him out of Game 5 in the third period and prevented him from taking faceoffs in the last two games of the series, as he took only two draws. That was quite the loss for the B’s, as Bergeron’s 973 faceoff wins led the league in the regular season (his 59.3 percent success rate was second in the NHL).
The regular season earned Bergeron a Selke nomination for the first time in his career, and he figures to be the favorite to take the trophy home come June. The other two finalists for the award were St. Louis’ David Backes and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, the latter of whom has won it in three of the last four seasons.
In addition to his smarts in all three zones and an impressive plus-minus of his own, the fact that Tyler Seguin — an immensely talented scorer whose play in his own zone is still very much a work in progress — had a plus-34 skating on his line speaks volumes for Bergeron.
Looking ahead: The Selke figures to be in Bergeron’s immediate future, as the fact that he’d yet to be a finalist had been somewhat of an injustice throughout the league. The members of the Pro Hockey Writers Association finally got on the same page after Bergeron’s plus-36, so Bergeron should end up cracking the exclusive fraternity of Selke winners (three winners the last six seasons).
As for what to expect from Bergeron in the future, a lot of that might depend on what happens with Seguin. If the B’s elect to keep him at wing and continue to play him on Bergeron’s line, that should mean a spike in numbers for that entire line as Seguin matures and becomes even more offensively dangerous.
Should Seguin stick at wing on Bergeron’s line for at least another season, it would seem Bergeron would be plenty capable of getting back to 70 points, something his did in his second and third seasons (including a career-high 73 points in 2005-06) but has not done since.
Of course, the Bruins expect more than points from Bergeron. His ability to shut down opposing teams’ top lines in addition to producing offensively and dominating in the faceoff circle while also being an important special teams player is what makes him far and away the Bruins’ most important forward.