|Overdue, but Patrice Bergeron joins Selke club||06.21.12 at 2:43 am ET|
Of all the NHL awards, the Selke certainly isn’t the flashiest of them. It doesn’t put a player on the cover of a video game, nor does it skyrocket jersey sales. Yet for real fans ‘ the ones who either played at some point in their lives or have just been around the game for long enough ‘ it’s the easiest to appreciate. Finally, it belongs to Patrice Bergeron, and it couldn’t be more fitting.
If Bruins fans were given a poll of who should win the Selke, Tyler Seguin would probably win (before you complain about that, remember the 7th Player Award fiasco). If the Selke were a popularity contest, Pavel Datsyuk, who in any given season could be considered the best player in the league, would win it for the eight hundredth time in his career. Wednesday’s awarding is long overdue, but it means that the humble and quiet Bergeron is getting the credit he deserves.
For the previous six years, the Selke fraternity hasn’t taken many new members. Datsyuk’s won it three times, Rod Brind’Amour won it twice, and two seasons ago Ryan Kesler was the recipient for the first time in his career. Through all that, it seemed an injustice that Bergeron, who has consistently been his team’s most important forward given Claude Julien‘s defense-first system, wasn’t even nominated.
Anyone who has watched Bergeron over the years saw that his defensive play in addition to his faceoff prowess made him one of the best, if not the best, two-way forwards in the game. The award is said to go to ‘the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” but like many awards, it doesn’t always hold true to its claimed criteria.
Rather than going to the best defensive forward, it can go to the defensive forward with the best offensive numbers. Then once you’ve won it, you stay in the voters’ (it’s chosen by members of the Pro Hockey Writers’ Association) minds for a while. It’s just tough to get their attention.
Bergeron finally began getting that attention last spring during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run. As the B’s kept winning and the spotlight shined a little brighter on the quiet center (and his finger, of course), the fact that he’d been snubbed in past seasons got a little more play with the North American media. It was no surprise afterwards that when Bergeron put up big numbers this past season (64 points, an NHL-best plus-36 and a league-high 973 faceoffs won), he ended up being the favorite for the Selke.
From a pure offensive standpoint, 64 points won’t get you mentioned among the best playmakers in the league, but Bergeron’s season provided everything that makes him such an important member of the Bruins. He played consistently against other teams’ top scorers and kept them off the score sheet while also killing penalties and helping the Bruins to a league-best plus-67 differential. Not surprisingly, he led all Bruins’ forwards in time on ice per game and shorthanded time on ice per game.
The chatter amongst other voters suggested Bergeron would be the runaway winner Wednesday night, and he was just that. He had over four times as many first-place votes as runner-up David Backes (106-24) and his 1,312 total points for the vote nearly doubled Backes’ 698.
Now, Bergeron is in the club. Like Dastyuk (this season’s third-place finisher), he should receive significant consideration each year. With linemates Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin entering the primes of their careers, Bergeron’s offensive numbers could still improve, making him an easier pick for those who lean towards those with more points. Plus, the re-signing of Chris Kelly means that Seguin will remain a wing long-term, so Bergeron should be able to have one of the most talented scorers in the league as a weapon for the foreseeable future.
Voting for these awards isn’t easy. Jonathan Quick, my top vote for the Hart trophy, didn’t finish in the top three. I didn’t have Norris winner Erik Karlsson in my top five for the award, though I did give him my fourth Hart vote. Yet after years of watching Bergeron and seeing his proficiency in all areas of the ice this season, the Selke was an easy choice. It may have taken a little longer than it should have, but the entire hockey world seems to see it now.
|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.
|Bruins explain injuries to Patrice Bergeron, Adam McQuaid, Tyler Seguin||04.27.12 at 1:30 pm ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had to play the final four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a strained oblique and a broken nose.
The oblique injury was suffered in Game 3 against the Capitals, and it got worse before eventually forcing him out of Game 5 in the third period. He played in Games 6 and 7, but only took one faceoff in each of the final two games.
Bergeron had a scoring opportunity in overtime against the Capitals in Game 7, but couldn’t control the puck and sent it wide of the net. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday that the injury prevented him from making the play, noting that Bergeron “couldn’t stretch for it.”
Adam McQuaid did indeed have a concussion from the hit that he took from Capitals forward Jason Chimera on March 29. McQuaid suffered a cut above his eye, causing pain that he said may have masked his concussion symptoms at the time. He tried returning on April 5 against the Senators, but didn’t feel right and came out of the game in the second period.
In other injury news, Tyler Seguin might need surgery on a detached tendon in one of his knuckles on his left hand.
|Patrice Bergeron and Bruins powerless to stop Caps when it mattered most||04.26.12 at 11:52 am ET|
It was as if the hockey gods were sending a message to the Bruins.
Jason Chimera hugged Johnny Boychuk ever so briefly, as the two went to the ice in the Bruins defensive zone. Chimera was called for a highly suspect and questionable holding penalty with 2:26 left in regulation of a 1-1 contest in Game 7.
If the Bruins could muster simply one power play goal, they almost certainly would be headed on to the second round and have escaped a first-round scare like they did in 2011.
But all the Bruins could muster was a harmless shot from the high slot from Brian Rolston as the power play dwindled to a precious few seconds. As was the case for most of the series, the Bruins could even get the puck on the sticks of the playmakers to organize a threat.
One shot on the season’s most important power play chance. Scoreless in three chances in Game 7. Two goals in 23 power play chances in the series.
Even when the hockey gods tempted, the Bruins could not control their own fate.
No one felt the pain more than Patrice Bergeron, who was playing with an arm/shoulder injury so bad he couldn’t take faceoffs in Games 6 and 7.
“It’s obvious that we had to better on the power play and we didn’t do that and at least create some momentum out of it and I don’t think we did that,” Bergeron said. “But, more than that I think it’s about especially Game 7, you have to find ways.”
The Bruins were very, very lucky last year to win the Stanley Cup with an inept power play for three rounds. This year, it would be why they are eliminated after one round.
“When you talk about [the game], that’s probably the most frustrating part of our game, was that power play that could have ended the series and the game,” added Bruins coach Claude Julien. “But, I guess, when you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than that. At the end of the series, you look at their team, and you look at ours, and they were the better team. They had more guys going than we did, and they played us tough. It was unfortunate that we’ve got to look at this one incident because it did play a big role in, but a lot of the damage had been done before that as well.”
It was Bergeron who had the series-winning shot on his stick 40 seconds into overtime, only to have Karl Alzner come over and interrupt glory, knocking Bergeron and the puck off target.
“It kind of exploded ‘ just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasn’t a lot of time and the puck wouldn’t settle,” Bergeron said.
“You look at all the overtime goals in this series, it’s always like that. It’s a tough break or a lucky bounce and the other team doesn’t get that and I think that’s what it is. It’s overtime, it’s one shot so yeah.”
Bergeron is captain material.
All you have to do is listen to him not address the seriousness of his arm injury following the toughest loss of the year to appreciate his leadership.
“I don’t want to use that [excuse],” Bergeron said. “I’ll let [media] know, I don’t want to talk about it right now if you guys don’t mind. Obviously on the checkout day so I’ll let you guys know.
“It’s there, it was a little better but not much better but like I said I don’t want to use that as an excuse right now. It’s a tough one to swallow and I really don’t want to put that on an injury. I’m not the only one that goes through that stuff.”
|Quick notes from morning skate: No faceoffs for Patrice Bergeron||04.25.12 at 12:15 pm ET|
The Bruins held what may have been their last morning skate of the season Wednesday, and everyone (except the injured Adam McQuaid) was present for it.
Patrice Bergeron skated Wednesday after taking Tuesday off, but he was a notable nonparticipant during faceoff drills. That means you can expect Rich Peverley to handle those duties again after doing so in Game 6.
With Bergeron skating on the second line, Jordan Caron took turns skating with the Merlot Line. It’s unknown whether Caron or Shawn Thornton will be the healthy scratch in Game 7 Wednesday night against the Capitals.
After the skate, Julien reiterated for a third time that Bergeron is in the lineup. In fact, he opened his press conference by asking, “Anybody want to know if Bergeron’s playing?”
For the Capitals, it appears Jeff Schultz will indeed go back into the lineup in place of John Erskine.
Here are the Bruins’ lines:
Greg Zanon ‘ Mike Mottau
It’s all about seven as the Bruins host the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Here’s everything you need to know and more, with seven the central theme.
‘¢ According to some impressive research done by Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, Jay Beagle has an incredible 61.6 success rate in the faceoff circle (53-for-86). Even more impressive is that he’s won 13-of-21 faceoffs against Patrice Bergeron, who led the league in faceoff wins during the regular season.
‘¢ Tim Thomas‘ 14 goals allowed through the first six games of the series equals the total he allowed in the first six games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season against the Canadiens. He faced only 12 more shots against the Habs through six than he has entering Wednesday’s Game 7.
‘¢ Alexander Ovechkin has two goals and two assists for four points and a minus-1 rating in four career Game 7s. He and the Capitals have gone 1-3 in those games.
This series, Ovechkin is tied with Rich Peverley with five points.
‘¢ Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic each have four career points in Game 7s to lead the Bruins. Lucic has three goals and an assist in six Game 7s while Marchand had two goals and two assists in three Game 7s last postseason.
‘¢ This series is the only one in NHL history to have the first six games decided by one goal. Both teams have scored 14 goals apiece with no empty-netters.
‘¢ Dennis Seidenberg has played in four Game 7s and won them all. He has four assists and plus-4 rating in those games, and has never had a negative rating in a Game 7.
‘¢ The Bruins have scored on the power play in just one of their six Game 7s since 2008. That game was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, a contest in which they scored two on the man advantage. Since 2008, the B’s are 2-for-13 on the power play in Game 7s.
|Claude Julien can’t stress enough that Patrice Bergeron will play in Game 7||04.24.12 at 1:04 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After Patrice Bergeron missed the Bruins’ practice at Ristuccia Arena, B’s coach Claude Julien was adamant that the banged-up center will be in the lineup in Wednesday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals.
“None at all,” Julien said when asked if there was any doubt that Bergeron would play.
Added Julien: “He’s playing next game. ‘¦ I don’t know how much clearer I can get. He’s in.”
Bergeron suffered an injury in the third period of Saturday’s Game 5 loss. He played in Game 6, but was unable to take faceoffs, as the only draw he took came late in the third period.