|Patrice Bergeron again showing he’s best two-way player in hockey||03.28.14 at 8:06 am ET|
The last time Patrice Bergeron scored 25 goals in a season, he was a 21-year-old sensation out of Quebec Junior hockey, with lots of speed, playing for a Bruins team out of the playoffs. It was the 2005-06 season and the Bruins under Mike Sullivan finished 29-37-16.
A lot has changed and evolved since.
After watching him put on a two-goal display Thursday night against the team he faced in the finals last season, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that he is in line to win another Selke Trophy this season. He finished second in the race last season and has finished in the top-5 in voting for the award in each of the last four seasons. This will be the fifth straight. As DJ Bean points out, it will be a race between Bergeron and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, who was a minus-1 in Thursday’s 3-0 Bruins win at TD Garden.
Not only did Bergeron score twice, he won 15 of 21 face-offs and helped lead a defense that shutout the highest-scoring team in the NHL for just the third time this season. He has an NHL-best plus-38, two better than when he won the Selke in 2012. The Bruins have given up just nine goals in their last nine games.
“It’s not something you really are always thinking about,” Bergeron said. “It is something that is part of our game as a team as a whole. We are a defense type of team and we get some offense with playing defensively sound and stuff like that. So I think we have to keep that going.”
Listen to Bergeron and you get a glimpse of what makes him so special – a two-way player who doesn’t take a shift off.
“Every shift is important,” he said. “You can’t really sit back or take a breather because obviously they’re going to turn it up against you. They’re a team that relies a lot on speed I think and their transition as well. I thought once we played a little tighter in the neutral zone and also in our fore check, it gave us some success.”
All of the above was great before but now he’s scoring at a Sidney Crosby pace, at least for the last five games, in which he has six goals, at least one goal in five straight.
“The puck’s going in I guess,” Bergeron said, showing his typical humility. “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.”
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean assess the chances of the Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks getting back to the Stanley Cup final, one year after Chicago won the Cup on Boston ice in Game 6. They also discuss the best strategy for resting Zdeno Chara and how to keep Patrice Bergeron hot.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ message to Canadiens was, ‘You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down’||03.26.14 at 1:17 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ loss to Montreal, the upcoming Chicago game, Dennis Seidenberg and the Seventh Player Award. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The 12-game win streak came to an end on Monday against the Canadiens, but the Bruins were able to get a point as they forced overtime with a goal from Patrice Bergeron in the third period. Brickley wasn’t concerned with the physicality that the Bruins showed and thought they picked the right game to be that way.
“There was some undisciplined play by the Bruins, retaliatory in nature, throughout the course of the hockey game,” Brickley said. “But if there was ever a game on the schedule, that was the time to do it. I think it helps send a little bit of a subtle message, but still try to play the game, play the game to win, which I thought they did. It wasn’t about the streak, it was about continuing to play the right way, coming into their identity.”
Added Brickley: “If you’re going to play Montreal in a seven-game series, I think part of that message was, ‘You can’t beat us. You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down.’ ”
While the streak is over, the Bruins own the best record in the Eastern Conference. To Brickley, now is the time for them to start focusing on the postseason.
“You hear it all the time, ‘Just one game at a time,’ and so on,” Brickley said. “But they’re looking big picture given the position that they’ve put themselves in, and that’s a favorable one. … It’s really all about getting prepared for postseason, so results don’t take on as great a meaning as they normally would.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins say they ‘have another gear’ to their game||03.19.14 at 1:41 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ 10-game win streak, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a tear recently, winning 10 straight games and outscoring opponents 41-15 in that span. Despite all their success, the team still is looking to improve.
“They’ve been able to do a lot of things really during this streak,” Brickley said. “But it’s amazing when you talk to the coaching staff and even to the players to a man, they say, ‘We’re not peaking, we haven’t hit our stride. Yes, we’re winning games because we’re playing team hockey, and we’re getting some good results, but we definitely have another gear.’ ”
Marchand has been quiet during the streak, only recording two goals and three assists. Brickley admits that while the 25-year-old winger has struggled at times, he has had a successful season.
“He’s having a terrific season really, on the whole, when you take a look at it,” Brickley said. “Certainly there were times, maybe, at different points in the season where it wasn’t going his way and he was kind of fighting it or searching for that balance.”
The B’s third line compares favorably to many of the third lines across the NHL. One guy in that line that has improved, according to Brickley, is Soderberg.
|Johnny Boychuk says ‘everything is OK’ after once again sacrificing his body||03.15.14 at 5:42 pm ET|
He could laugh about it after the game but Johnny Boychuk knows full well he was very lucky to even be standing in his electric blue pinstripe suit after Boston’s 5-1 throttling of the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
Midway through the third period, he lost an edge as Carolina’s Patrick Dwyer reached with his stick for the puck. Boychuk went careening feet first into the boards behind the Bruins net and lay prone on the ice for several minutes clutching his right leg.
Training staff came out and Boychuk immediately got to his feet and swatted away a helping arm so he could get on his skates and test his banged up right leg. He eventually conceded help, with teammate David Krejci helping him off the ice and down the tunnel. Just five minutes after going to the dressing room, Boychuk was back in front of goaltender Chad Johnson, blocking a shot with his skate on the same leg that had just suffered a nasty collision into the unforgiving corner boards.
“I’m a little sore,” Boychuk said with a painful grin. “I’m just glad everything’s OK.”
Indeed, Boychuk appeared to have escaped serious injury, as he had no walking boot on his right leg after the game and didn’t show any noticeable limp while walking. He did need about 30 extra minutes of treatment postgame before speaking to reporters.
Boychuk said he had x-rays on the leg but didn’t have the results immediately available.
As for what happened, on the play into the boards, Boychuk said it was just an unfortunate case of losing his balance.
“I was going for the puck,” Boychuk said. “I was looking left and right to see where my guys were and I went to [make a] hit and then all of a sudden, I’m going into the boards and just went feet-in kind of awkwardly, I guess.”
“I think the part is that we’re happy he’s not injured,” Julien said. “The way he went into the boards with both feet could have been a lot worse. So, kind of happy that he was able to come back and that shot on the foot is nothing compared to how hard he went into the boards, but you know what our team has always been made of those kind of players and guys that gut it out and certainly it helps our team get some, I guess, some energy, and some momentum at a certain point of the game where we needed it.”
Winners of seven straight, the Bruins will welcome back one forward and another making his NHL debut. Bruins coach Claude Julien announced before Saturday’s game with Carolina that Daniel Paille, who has missed the last five games with concussion symptoms, has been cleared to return to game action.
Asked if he will be available and will play, Julien was more coy with reporters pre-game.
“Could be,” Julien said with a smile. “Probably. You’ll have to make some deductions. right? I have to keep you guys on your toes. I’m too predictable.”
The other big story Saturday is the NHL debut of 23-year-old forward Matt Linblad, a Friday call-up from Providence.
“It’s pretty special,” Julien said. “I’m sure he’s dreamed of playing in the NHL, and exhibition games are one thing, and this is the real deal right now. But at the same time, I think he’s earned it. He’s played really well. I liked his training camp, I liked his, again, his hockey knowledge and his hockey IQ.
“Hockey sense is always an important part of any player at this level, and he has that. He’s a smart individual, so you put that with the good skater that he he is, and it makes for a pretty decent player. So we have high hopes for him and there’s an opportunity for him to show he’s gotten better over the course of the season.”
Julien also announced that, after playing in three straight games, defenseman Andrej Meszaros would get the day off, giving Torey Krug more time on the blue line as well as the power play.
“There’s going to be some changes here as we go along, and I think [Meszaros] has played three straight games and we’ve continued to work with him,” Julien said. “So, we certainly don’t want to let our other players that have been here be pushed aside because of trades. So it’s just managing that whole back end.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Andrej Meszaros ‘gives you options’||03.12.14 at 2:57 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Andrej Meszaros, the B’s defense and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
While Brickley still has doubts about the Bruins depth at wing, he sees the Meszaros trade as one that will help the Bruins figure out their best defensive combination.
“I’m not sure I’m convinced that if there are injuries to the four lines, as currently constituted, that they have enough in the wings waiting to step in,” Brickley said. “The organization, obviously, believes they probably do, but the emphasis was to definitely go get a defenseman, and now bringing in Meszaros, that gives you options.”
Added Brickley: “And it gives you — ’cause he can play left or right — and it gives you competition for ice time and actually be in uniform. You see Dougie Hamilton, the first casualty. They’re trying to figure out guys. Who’s going to play with [Zdeno] Chara in the playoffs? They want that shutdown pair and they’re not sure where it’s at right now and that was the whole reason to go get a guy like Meszaros.”
While the Bruins like what they see from Meszaros so far, the real test starts Wednesday night against Montreal, according to Brickley.
“I think the competition has started,” Brickley said. “It started the other night in Florida with Meszaros going to the lineup. They really like what he brought on that power play, being a left shot, being able to work the overload on the one side with other left shots on the half wall, whether it’s [Carl] Soderberg or [Loui] Eriksson, whoever it might be. They like that look.”
Added Brickley: “Now keep in mind that’s the Florida Panthers. That’s a pretty easy matchup for your first game as a player. Tonight you’ll probably get some different results and I’ll be curious to see how the defensemen in the lineup tonight handle a team like Montreal and the intensity and the speed.”
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