|Patrice Bergeron’s slow start won’t last forever||11.21.16 at 11:24 am ET|
Patrice Bergeron has had an unusually slow start to the 2016-17 campaign, notching just 2-2—4 totals in 14 games. Both assists came in the game at Tampa on Nov. 3, while he scored in his first game on Oct. 20 vs. the Devils then again on Nov. 5 against the Rangers.
Throw in scoreless streaks of five and recently six games and it’s clear that Bergeron is scuffling a bit when it comes to contributing offensively.
Still, it’s nothing to really be alarmed about.
Bergeron and his linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have held onto the puck more than any other trio in the league. Bergeron was getting over four shots per game during his recent scoreless slump. Opportunities haven’t been the issue as much as puck luck — Bergeron’s shooting percentage of 5.1 percent is well below his career average of 10.1.
It’s not like the perennial Selke candidate just lost it a year after reaching his career high of 32 goals. The heart-and-soul of the B’s just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and the points will return because the chances are there. But the sooner that is the better it will be for the Bruins.
– Injuries are part of life in the NHL but the last week was unusually rough even by NHL standards. The league lost Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall, and Johnny Gaudreau in the blink of an eye. You hate to see guys end up on the shelf, especially talent of this magnitude. But the losses are just a reminder that hockey doesn’t discriminate when it comes to injuries. Still, the league will go on as it always does.
– After a torrid start to the year, the Oilers have wafted back down to Earth. The Connor McDavid-led squad has lost five straight and will drop from the top eight teams in the West if they don’t stop the bleeding soon. Both conferences are so ridiculously tight right now that a team can go from the top of the standings to on the outside looking in very quickly as the Oilers have shown. We’ll get a good look at just how the young captain McDavid handles the adversity in fixing his team.
– Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov are currently tied for the NHL lead with 22 points apiece, just like everybody predicted back in October.
– Old friend Tyler Seguin’s 7-14—21 is good for third place and he will surely be in the run for the Art Ross Trophy once again. Jimmy Hayes and Joe Morrow, what the Bruins have left to show for the trade, have zero points in 19 combined games.
– After two straight 100-point seasons, the Islanders have really struggled out of the gate. They’ve won just five of 17 games and their 14 points has them tied with the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres. New ownership isn’t happy with the underachievement and coach Jack Capuano is feeling the heat. The eight seed currently has 20 points so the Isles can get right back in it by running off a few wins in a row. But if they don’t turn it around soon, the season can slip away from them real quick.
|5 things we learned as Patrice Bergeron’s late goal pushes Bruins past Devils||10.20.16 at 9:52 pm ET|
The lines may have shaken up, but the source of offense didn’t. With the return of Patrice Bergeron, forwards found themselves in new roles, but in a 2-1 rout of the Devils, the Bruins proved their top six forwards can be relied upon no matter which line they’re skating on.
Bergeron provided the dagger with just 1:15 left to claim the win for the Bruins, one-timing a shot off a pass from Brad Marchand to put the Bruins up by the decisive margin.
“I saw an opening,” Bergeron said. “I thought there was a little miscommunication on the D zone and I knew that Brad was going to come around the net and see me there, so I was just waiting and I was ready for the one-timer and obviously I was just trying to put it on net. I wasn’t necessarily trying to look at an area; I was just trying to put it on net and I was lucky to get that goal.”
Faced with a one-goal deficit and less than 10 minutes to play, Marchand danced his way from center ice into the offensive zone at 9:47 and wristed the puck through the five-hole of Devils captain Andy Greene and over the right shoulder of Cory Schneider.
“Well obviously we got the result that wanted. I thought for the most part it was an exciting game. New Jersey is an improved hockey club,” head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought their transition game was good and we knew that before the game started but we told our guys that we needed to be patient and play our game and it wasn’t going to be a high scoring game but we had to really stay with it and I thought our guys did a really good job. Unfortunately they got that first goal again but I liked our response after that.”
With the return of Bergeron, David Backes slid from centering the first line to the right wing of the second, and was still a seamless fit — as was Bergeron in Backes’ vacated role.
The Devils’ lone goal came a little over five and a half minutes before Marchand’s. On the power play, Kyle Palmieri snuck a shot underneath Brandon Carlo before gliding between the legs of an unassuming Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins will take the ice again on Saturday in their first matchup this season against the Canadiens.
Here are four more things we learned in Thursday’s win.
David Backes will only help improve David Krejci
Backes skating to Krejci’s right has already started turning into a potent combination, even if it didn’t result in any points on Thursday. Even with Danton Heinen being virtually absent on the second line, both Backes and Krejci did a good job of opening up the ice and creating chances for one another.
I thought we had some good stuff,” Krejci said. “Good forecheck, good rushes, a couple good scoring chances, so just kind of stay positive and it will come.”
Torey Krug can be serviceable on the right side, but should not totally relied upon
It has not been a frequent choice of Claude Julien’s, and it should probably remain that way. Krug was moved to the right side so he could pair with Joe Morrow, who was getting his first game action this season. While he certainly wasn’t awful, he looked visibly more comfortable offensively when he was playing left while on the power play.
“Yeah I think Torey had some hiccups tonight with the puck but I thought as the game went on, he definitely got better and took charge and that’s what we want from Torey.”
He spent time playing on the right when he was coming up through Providence, and per Julien when he made the decision, “He’s very comfortable on the right.”
The reality appears after this small sample size, however, that given Morrow’s streakiness — especially with the lack of routine playing time — it’s not worthy to take offense out of Krug in order to get Morrow in the lineup.
The power play still needs work
At times, the power play was painfully underwhelming.
Giveaways in the offensive zone led to the Bruins falling to 1-for-14 on the power play this season after failing to execute on all four of their opportunities Thursday night.
“Yeah. [Bergeron] was a little bit better. We got some more scoring chances. The puck’s not finding the back of the net. But, like I said, stay positive and keep creating chances and eventually, it will go in.”
Passing is going to create problems
While an excuse can be made that the situation will fix itself with time, the Bruins’ inability to pass effectively came close to detrimental at multiple points.
Nearing the end of the first period, Brad Marchand had a brutal giveaway at center ice that nearly allowed the Devils into the attacking zone without any pressure.
Colin Miller didn’t help the cause much on the power play, either, allowing an errant pass as he tripped to fall to a Devils stick and be cleared out of the zone.
|Bruins pregame notes: Austin Czarnik sent to Providence; Patrice Bergeron to make season debut||at 5:33 pm ET|
Ahead of Wednesday’s home opener, Bruins head coach Claude Julien announced 23-year-old center Austin Czarnik had been sent to the AHL.
Czarnik started the season off centering the third line, but after the first two games was scratched in favor of veteran Riley Nash. Even with the demotion, however, he made a mark in his time with the Bruins.
“He had a tremendous camp. We just want him to go down there and play, and we’ll see what goes on from there,” said Julien. “I was extremely impressed with his training camp. He’s a smart player. When we get to this type of situation, I think he’s playing to find his game again and we’re going to allow him to do that. With the way that he’s played, there’s a good chance we’re going to see him again.”
Julien also added that there is a “good chance” Czarnik gets called back up to the Bruins at some point.
Patrice Bergeron will play his first game of the season Wednesday, after missing the first three games with a lower body injury. On top of his offensive and defensive contributions, the mere presence of the 31-year-old is expected to give the Bruins a lift.
“It doesn’t matter what night it is. I think anytime Patrice comes back into the room, it’s a big lift. He’s regarded as one of the best players in the league,” Julien said.
“So, when you coach some games without him and you see him coming back, it’s a lift to everybody — players, teammates, organization, coaching staff, and hopefully the fans as well.”
Defenseman Joe Morrow, who has yet to play in a game this season, will likely start on Wednesday. He was paired with Torey Krug during morning skate, while Rob O’Gara stayed on the ice late, an indication that he will likely be scratched in favor of Morrow.
“When [Morrow] plays well, he’s a good addition to our team,” Julien said. “He skates well, he gets the puck out of our own end, with [Kevin Miller] out, the same thing. You’re looking for consistency from game to game. The sharpness and compete level are important aspects of playing in the NHL and right now, he needs both of those to get there.”
Also skating late at practice was winger Ryan Spooner, who has struggled to kickstart his season, with one assist in the first three games. Should he be scratched, Tim Schaller would replace him, having skated in Spooner’s spot on the fourth line left wing Wednesday morning.
“He’s just a smart player that plays hard, I think, in all aspects,” Julien said of Schaller. “He’s a centerman that can play the wing, he’s got good size, I think his hockey sense is great. Last time we put him in there, I thought he did a good job with that line which turned out to be one of one better lines against Winnipeg.”
Here are the Bruins projected lines for their tilt against the Devils.
|David Backes discusses Bruins contract length, fit with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner||07.01.16 at 5:23 pm ET|
The best question on David Backes’ introductory conference call was asked by himself.
Or, at least, it was a question he recalled asking the Bruins as they went about trying to sign the former Blues captain.
“Through the process I was asking questions and didn’t want to pull myself out of being part of the Bruins, but I said, ‘You’ve got Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who are top-tier center-icemen and are both right-handed,’” Backes said. “’You’re going to bring me in as another right-handed center men. Your top three center men are all going to be right-handed. How’s that going to work?’”
The elephant in the room that follows Backes’ signing is that someone’s either got to go or be used differently. Ryan Spooner is the Bruins’ sole left-shot center, so could Krejci be traded? Could Backes be moved to wing? Backes said that his talks with the B’s prior to signing focused “mostly” on him playing center, but he allowed for the possibility of playing right wing, as he did during the postseason for the Blues.
“If a guy like Spooner can play the third-line center and I move up to the right side with [Brad] Marchand and Bergeron, that gives us a heavy, responsible line that can put a lot of pucks in the net,” Backes said.
“If you want to call me third-line, I completely respect that,” Backes said. “Those two other guys are awesome, but I’ve got to imagine that we’re going to share a lot of responsibility and not burden one guy with all the hard ice or the heavy lifting. When you have responsible guys that can share those roles, then we can all flourish on the other side of the ice and have tons of energy to go out for the ends of games to close it out or score a late big goal.”
The number of right-shot centers presents something of a redundancy. The length of his contract, however, is what is most worrisome. Backes has stayed healthy throughout his career, but one has to wonder who he will hold up in the final two years of his deal.
“I’m 32; I’m not 52,” Backes said. “I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me. The terms that I’ve come to, people may have questions, but for me, I expect to still be at the top of my game for the last year and still be a contributing member for the Boston Bruins.”
Added Backes: “I don’t think the game’s getting slower. It’s a fast game, but if you start to manage the puck in the right way, you can occupy the offensive zone and do a lot of the things that teams that are heavy and control the puck and occupy the zone do, it’s not a track meet up and down the ice. With Pittsburgh winning the Cup, a team that was kind of designed on that track meet, ‘let’s go, let’s see who can skate the fastest up the ice,’ there may be a trend or a tendency to try to start to build teams like that, but you’ve also seen teams in the LA Kings and the Boston Bruins win playing that heavy game and maybe not having the fastest team, but winning every battle that you get into, being able to control the puck once you get it.”
|Patrice Bergeron has maintenance day as Bruins prepare for Islanders||03.11.16 at 12:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron was the only player absent from Friday’s practice as the Bruins prepared to host the Islanders in the upcoming Saturday matinee.
Bergeron, who committed an ill-timed line change in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday, was given a maintenance day on Friday, according to Claude Julien.
Kevan Miller, who has missed the Bruins’ last three games since taking a hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin last Saturday, practiced with the Bruins for the second straight day.
|Eriksson-Bergeron-Pastrnak an intriguing option for Bruins||01.07.16 at 11:29 pm ET|
It looks like the Bruins are going to use David Pastrnak the right way.
After recalling the 19-year-old scorer from Providence, the Bruins skated Pastrnak on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s practice. Loui Eriksson was at left wing, as Brad Marchand will serve the final game of his three-game suspension Friday night.
The line is extremely intriguing. Playing Pastrnak on Bergeron’s line has always seemed to make sense (see: Tyler Seguin‘s 29-goal 2011-12 season), but “the Bergeron line” usually means “the Bergeron and Marchand line.” Bergeron and Marchand have pretty much been a package deal since midway through the 2010-11 season, and for good reason. They’re among the best duos in the NHL.
Yet having Eriksson at left wing could have an interesting impact on Pastrnak. Both Eriksson and Marchand are scorers — they have 15 and 14 goals, respectively — but Marchand is more of an electric player with the puck on his stick than Eriksson. Bergeron, a very good scorer in his own right with 15 goals, can pretty much just dish to Marchand, count to three and be part of a scoring chance.
Eriksson does a lot of things, but he isn’t the skater or offensively ambitious player that Marchand is. With the exception of the 2011-12 season, when Seguin scored 29 goals, Marchand has always scored more goals than his line’s right wing.
Having Eriksson on the line could open up the door for the Bergeron line’s right wing to be more of a scorer.
“Brad creates a lot by having the puck and by me trying to send him with his speed,” Bergeron said. “I think Loui’s more territorial and possession and kind of slowing the play down a little bit more. They’re different in their own rights.
“Me being a righty, my tendency is to go to my left side a little bit more, so maybe my righties are not as happy with me, but we’re trying to use both sides. Brad’s got the puck a little bit more than Loui would. Loui likes to kind of send it and chip it and dump it a little bit more.”
Speaking after Thursday’s practice, Pastrnak seemed thrilled by the idea of playing with Bergeron. After not playing since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury and a lengthy rehab tour that took him to Finland for the World Junior Championships, he was probably just relieved to be back with the B’s.
Skating with both Eriksson and Bergeron will be a new experience for the young forward, but based on what Bergeron would want in a right wing on a line with Eriksson, Pastrnak sounds like a good fit.
“I think the righty needs to go a little bit more and use his speed more and try to [have] us find him,” Bergeron said.
Brett Connolly, who has spent a lot of time on the right wing of Bergeron’s line this season, has had both Marchand and Eriksson as his left wing.
“Obviously Marchy’s more gritty, in your face,” Connolly said. “Loui’s more [about] using his hockey sense to make some plays. He seems to always be in the right areas. Two good players. Two smart players.”
If Eriksson’s presence allows for more facilitating, Pastrnak could be beneficiary for at least a game. One would think Marchand and Bergeron would be reunited once Marchand’s suspension is up, but for now Claude Julien has an interesting line at his disposal.
|Patrice Bergeron named NHL All-Star||01.06.16 at 12:51 pm ET|
This is the second consecutive and second overall All-Star nod for Patrice Bergeron. The silly event will take place Jan. 30-31 at Bridgestone Arena.
Bergeron leads the Bruins with 37 points. With 15 goals, he’s on pace for a career-high 32 goals. Bergeron has hit the 30-goal mark twice in his career, reaching the plateau in 2005-06 (31 goals) and 2014-15 (30).
Bergeron is the Bruins’ only representative in the tournament, meaning Zdeno Chara will not be able to participate in the Hardest Shot competition for the second-straight All-Star game. Chara holds the record for hardest recorded shot at 108.8 miles per hour, set in 2012.