|Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean break down red-hot Bruins, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron||03.28.14 at 12:21 am ET|
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.
|Claude Julien on Patrice Bergeron: ‘Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is’||02.25.14 at 3:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien called coaching a gold medal-winning Canada team in the Olympics “a once in a lifetime kind of thing” upon returning to Bruins practice Tuesday, but he seemed just as happy for Patrice Bergeron as he was for himself.
Julien, who was an associate coach under head coach Mike Babcock, said he found it very satisfying to see Bergeron — a player who has won gold at both the World Championships and World Junior Championships, win the Stanley Cup and added his second gold medal over the weekend — cement his standing as one of the world’s best players, even if he often gets overlooked because he doesn’t put up as many points as others.
“He’s such a complete player, and it’s nice to see that he was seen the same way on a bigger stage,” Julien said. “Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is.”
It didn’t take long for Bergeron, who began as the team’s fourth-line right wing on a line with Jamie Benn and John Tavares, to establish himself as a difference-maker on a loaded roster. With Norway playing Canada in a much closer game than anyone could have expected early on in Canada’s opening game of the preliminary round, Bergeron assisted goals from Shea Weber and Jamie Benn in a 3-1 win, the latter of which was the result of a beautiful pass from Bergeron in the offensive zone.
As the tournament went on, Bergeron moved up to play with Sidney Crosby and he proved to be a big asset in keeping the team’s semifinal game against Team USA a 1-0 contest.
“He was one of our best players and I’m not afraid to say that,” Julien said of Bergeron’s performance. “He came in and his line in that first game, with Benn and Tavares, was probably our best line. He was playing so well, he ended up moving up to the Crosby line and basically brought some good stability to that line and they were much better from then on.
“He made a lot of highlight clips in our reviews just by how hard he worked on both sides of the coin. Defensively, offensively, he made some great things. Forecheck, turn pucks over, backcheck.”
Bergeron used the stage provided by the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup to show anyone unsure of his abilities that he is among the game’s best players. In addition to being the best faceoff man in the world, his two-way play was impressive enough to make the Pro Hockey Writers Association realize that he was overdue for the Selke Trophy, which he was given the next season.
Bergeron will never be one the two or three biggest names in the league because though he plays the sport as well as anyone else, his two-way prowess isn’t as sexy as putting up a ton of goals or points, a la a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos.
Still, Julien says, there’s no confusion among big-name players that Bergeron is one of the best in the game today.
“He’s not Crosby and he’s not those kind of guys in people’s minds, but when the puck is dropped — and you can even ask Sid — Sid loves playing with him,” Julien said. “They played together in World and Junior championships. They’ve been linemates and he just loves playing with him. He’s got a great appreciation for Bergy.”
|Milan Lucic has replayed shocking end to Stanley Cup finals ’100 times’ in his mind||01.18.14 at 5:10 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The Bruins are back in Chicago for the first time in Stanley Cup finals, and though the series ended at TD Garden, returning to the Windy City brings back plenty of memories.
“I don’t think it’s weird; it’s nice to be back,” Claude Julien said after the team practiced at Johnny’s Ice House. “Last year, although when you don’t win, it’s a bittersweet situation. If anything when you take time to look back it was some really good hockey played, great games, overtime in a lot of them and everything else. I thought it was a well-played battle. Hopefully for the betterment of the game you hope it was appreciated.”
Of course the Bruins wish the results could have been different. The banged-up B’s limped to the finish line as they blew a one-goal lead in allowing the Blackhawks to score two goals in 17 seconds and end the series in shocking fashion.
“The last minute, minute and 15, I’ve replayed in my mind 100 times since that moment,” Lucic said. “Obviously there are a lot of questions. [The game-winner] goes right off the post and right back to [Dave] Bolland‘s stick. You always think ‘What could you have done?’
“And it’s not just Game 6. You look at Game 1, we’re up 3-1 with eight minutes left and they were able to tie it and win it. Then we were up 2-1 in the series and we don’t take care of business in Game 4. Those are the things that haunt you in the summertime and replay it over in your mind. It sucks thinking about it and you want to do everything you can to move past it. Obviously, we’ve done our best to play well this year and move past it.’
To a man — and along the lines of what they said during the series — Sunday’s meeting between the Bruins and Blackhawks won’t be anything like the two meetings the Bruins and Canucks have had since the 2011 finals. Where the Bruins and Canucks hated — and clearly still hate — each other, the B’s and Blackhawks turned in a great six games of hockey, with perhaps the most disappointing part of the series the fact that it didn’t go to seven.
“I would definitely say it’s different [than with the Canucks],” Lucic said. “There was so much more I guess you say chippiness in the Vancouver series where bad blood, still, as you saw in the last game, carried over. There isn’t as much talk heading into this game tomorrow, but we both know what’s on the line.
‘”I wouldn’t say there was any other series [like last year's] where there was that mutual respect. I’m sure once the puck drops and we get going, that emotional level will be back at it pretty quick.”
Julien agrees, saying he wouldn’t expect to see cheap shots from the players in this rematch like there have been in the rematches with the Canucks. Patrice Bergeron, who wouldn’t have even been able to play in a Game 7 given his injuries suffered in the series, says the respect between the two teams is too great.
“I’ve also talked with a couple guys that played on the team as well and that’s what we basically said, it was a great series, a hard fought series but still lots of respect on both sides,” Bergeron said. “I thought it was for fans, I thought it was a great series to watch also.”
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|Patrice Bergeron doesn’t hesitate to drop gloves in rare fight||12.21.13 at 11:07 pm ET|
Bruins fans saw a rare sight when Patrice Bergeron dropped the gloves in the second period of Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Sabres.
It was the first regular-season fight of Bergeron’s NHL career (he’s had two postseason fights) and it came as a result of a cross-check to the face he took from Buffalo defensemen Tyler Myers. With the two exchanging cross-checks (including a low shot from Myers), Bergeron said Myers getting him in the face was “the last straw.”
Myers won the bout, and though Bergeron skated to the box to the roar of the Garden crowd, there isn’t too much to like there. Given Bergeron’s concussion history (four at the NHL level, the most recent of which was last season), the risk/reward doesn’t swing in the Bruins’ favor.
In that case, however, Bergeron said he wasn’t afraid to go.
“I was fine with it,” Bergeron said. “I kind of asked him also.”
Asked whether there’s any hesitation for him to fight given his concussion history, Bergeron said he was too fired up at the time to weigh the pros and cons.
“Obviously you don’t think about that when you’re on the ice and you’re fired up and you’re not happy with what just happened,” he said. “I kind of realized pretty quickly he was pretty tall and had a pretty good good reach, but you don’t think about it.”
The fight and his second-period cross-checking penalty gave Bergeron 13 penalty minutes over his last three games, which is one more than he had in the first 33 games of the season. He certainly won’t be winning the Lady Byng this season, but Bergeron isn’t concerned with the uptick in penalties he’s been taking.
“I mean, the other penalties before were more like part of the play ‘ a couple that my stick got caught in people’s skates,” Bergeron said. “Bu it’s part of the game also. You know, you’ve got to play and try to avoid them, but when it does happen there’s not much you can do.”
|Patrice Bergeron: Bruins stick up for Brad Marchand||12.16.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There was plenty of reaction to Brad Marchand‘s Stanley Cup-themed taunts Saturday night in a game the Bruins lost, and one of them came from the always quotable Kevin Bieksa.
Bieksa, who took perhaps the worst dive of the 2011 playoffs in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals and called the Bruins “stupid” a year later, said after Saturday’s game that the Bruins don’t stick up for Marchand.
“Everyone knows Marchand’s deal,” Bieksa told ESPN.com. “I don’t want to get into a war of words but you know what Marchand is like. I think his teammates know what he’s like, too. There weren’t too many guys sticking up for him in those scrums.”
Patrice Bergeron, who has been a linemate of Marchand’s for the past four seasons, politely disagreed with Bieksa’s assessment.
“I’ve never been the guy that’s going to [talk trash] in the media, [but] I think we all stick up for one another,” Bergeron said Monday. “I think it’s something that we’ve done throughout the time that we’ve been here, so I don’t think that’s really an issue. That particular incident, yeah, maybe Marchy would like to take that one back, but it’s also part of his game. That’s it.”
Claude Julien was critical of Marchand’s actions following the game, saying that his behavior against the Canucks was “definitely not something we will accept in our organization. He declined to say Monday whether he had called the player into his office over the incident.
“If I did, I think it’s for us to keep internally,” Julien said. “I don’t think it’s for anybody else to know about. I was pretty clear in my comments. I think it’s not something that we want, so we deal with it internally in those situations.”
|Brad Marchand’s improved play pays off with goal, assist vs. Rangers||11.29.13 at 5:19 pm ET|
It’s still too early to say Brad Marchand has completely turned things around, but he has certainly been making more good things happen over the last few weeks. At times, it hasn’t translated to points, but in Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers, it did.
Midway through the first period, Marchand one-timed a Zdeno Chara pass under the crossbar to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Then early in the third, he weaved through the Rangers defense before setting up Patrice Bergeron for the game-tying goal. It marked Marchand’s first multi-point game of the season, in his and the team’s 26th game played. By comparison, Marchand had five multi-point games in the first 26 games last season and four the year before.
A quick look at Marchand’s game log shows that he had two goals and three assists in his 12 games prior to Friday. Big deal, right? True, that in and of itself is not a big deal. But what could be a big deal is that Marchand has been getting chances.
He had two or more shots on goal in 10 of those 12 games. To put that in perspective, his career average is just under two per game. (Oddly enough, his goal Friday was actually his only shot on goal for the game.) And to add even more context, in the eight games prior to that stretch, he had three shots on goal total.
So Marchand had been getting looks and taking shots; they just weren’t going in. And this is where we point out that Marchand’s shooting percentage going into Friday was 7.5 percent, less than half of his 16.8 and 19.8 marks the last two seasons.
“I really think that he’s picked up his game a lot,” Bergeron said. “Obviously everyone in the last game [a 6-1 loss to Detroit], that was something that we just can’t really talk about. But for six, seven games before that, I thought he was playing really well and improving, moving his feet. Every time he does that, he creates a lot of chances for himself, but also for us as his linemates. I think he’s been playing pretty well actually.”
To illustrate Bergeron’s point about Marchand’s importance to the whole line: in shifts with Marchand on the ice, the Bruins have out-attempted their opponent in 12 of the last 13 games. In the eight games before that — the same eight in which Marchand wasn’t getting shots on goal — the Bruins out-attempted the opposition during Marchand’s shifts just once.
Marchand hasn’t forgotten how to shoot the puck. His goal Friday afternoon — a blast from the lower right circle that Henrik Lundqvist had virtually no chance of stopping — is evidence of that. So if Marchand continues to shoot, chances are more pucks will start to go in.
The biggest concern during Marchand’s early-season struggles was that he wasn’t even getting the chances. According to him, that was because he wasn’t doing a lot of the little things he needed to do to be successful. He admitted on Friday that it started to get to his head, that he started worrying about the lack of points.
“I was frustrated and worried about points and putting up numbers and stuff like that,” Marchand said. “I think I had the wrong mindset there. It was more about the things you’ve got to do to get there and different areas of the game that I had to improve.”
But now he’s in a better place. He knows he’s doing those little things, he knows he’s getting his chances, and he knows the points will follow.
“I think once I just kind of calmed down and worried about playing my game and letting everything else go, I felt a lot better.”
|Patrice Bergeron’s line too quiet for Bruins||11.06.13 at 7:05 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson is back. Now how about some goals?
No, not just from Eriksson, but from Patrice Bergeron’s line as a whole. Regardless of who else has been on Bergeron’s line — and there have been three different configurations so far this season — it hasn’t been scoring.
In the last seven games, Bergeron’s line, whether Reilly Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson, Smith-Bergeron-Brad Marchand or Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson, has scored a grand total of one goal. Bergeron is one of the best players in the league (arguably the best player on the Bruins), but top-six lines need to produce, and his hasn’t.
Bergeron’s third-period goal last Wednesday is the second line’s only goal since the Bruins’ 5-0 win over the Lightning on Oct. 19. It’s safe to say that Lightning game was the most complete game the B’s have played this season, and a lot of that is due to the fact that Bergeron’s line simply hasn’t been going.
Consider that Bergeron himself has been a minus player in two of the last three games and three times this season after having a negative rating in just five games total last season. Goals are being scored against the Bergeron line, but just as worrisome is the fact that it hasn’t been producing.
Sure, there are some reasons as to why. Bergeron’s coming off a few injuries, there’s turnover with Eriksson coming aboard, there have been moving parts on the wings and Marchand is in the midst of what will likely go down as one of the worst slumps (12 games without a goal) of his career. That’s no excuse for a line centered by Bergeron to be anything less than very good.
“There have been a lot of changes, but the bottom line is that you have to find ways to do your job,” Bergeron said. “It seems now that hopefully it’s going to stay [the same] and we can do some great things.”
Indeed, it does. Tuesday’s game marked the first of this season that the Bruins used the lines they had put in place in the final week of the preseason to be their lineup. Yet injuries to Carl Soderberg and Eriksson messed with that, and on Tuesday the Bruins played their fifth game of the season with the Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson line. It was the first time the trio had played together since the second period of the fourth game of the season.
While the results were underwhelming with a no-show on the scoring sheet, the line actually did play well, with the trio moving the puck well and creating chances in Eriksson’s first game back from a concussion.
Encouraging is good, but it doesn’t put points on the table. Marchand, who spent four games and a period on the third line after a demotion against the Blue Jackets last month, has just one goal through 14 games this season. Last season he’d already scored nine times through 14 contests.
Between Marchand’s struggles and Eriksson’s absence, Claude Julien doesn’t sound too surprised by the lack of offensive output.
“You’ve got a guy that just came back from a concussion, and you’ve got another guy that hasn’t played extremely well,” Julien said. “There’s a mixture there that doesn’t really [suggest] success, does it? I think it’s just a matter of getting those guys going.”
Tuesday was definitely a step in the right direction, but the B’s need their second line’s fortune to change if the team wants to have the success of years past. Remember, all three members of the line (Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Marchand) found themselves top five in the league in plus/minus two seasons ago. Those kind of numbers don’t come without putting the puck in the net.
“I’m trying to play my game and do everything right, but production is part of my game also, and I need to find that,” Bergeron said. “With that being said, it’s about bearing down when we do have some chances.”
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