|Statistician’s research suggests Gregory Campbell, not Patrice Bergeron, is Bruins best defensive forward||01.13.11 at 3:59 pm ET|
Here’s an interesting one. Patrice Bergeron‘s strong statistical output of late (17 points over the last 13 games) has made him a popular candidate for this season’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the league’s best defensive forward. One’s candidacy for the award, which is supposed to be focused on the defensive aspect of the game, is generally aided by good offensive numbers, making Bergeron, who is among the top two-way forwards in the game, a good fit.
Yet this piece from James Mirtle in today’s Globe and Mail (and feel free to form your own opinion of it) throws a bit of a monkey wrench at the system. Taking the quality of players faced and how many goals they are on the ice for in both even strength and shorthanded situations into, a bit of research from Behind the Net statistician Gabriel Desjardins suggests that Bergeron isn’t even the best defensive forward on his own team.
Desjardin’s research suggests that Gregory Campbell was the first half’s second-best defensive forward, ranking behind only Washington’s Brooks Laich. Bergeron ranks No. 24 on the list. Here’s a look:
|Bruins look for third straight win as they take on Flyers||01.12.11 at 11:19 pm ET|
Fresh off a 6-0 trouncing of the Senators on Tuesday, the Bruins (23-12-7) will will play their second of four consecutive home games when they host the Flyers (27-10-5) on Thursday. The two teams have split the season series thus far, with the Bruins grabbing a 3-0 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 1 and the Flyers returning the favor with a 2-1 overtime victory at TD Garden on Dec. 11.
The Flyers sit atop the Eastern Conference with 59 points in 42 games and are currently riding a four-game winning streak. With the Canadiens falling to the Penguins, 5-2, on Wednesday, the Bruins have an opportunity to expand their lead in the Northeast Division to four points. Tim Thomas will get the nod for the B’s.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 10-7-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 over their last five contests at the Garden dating back to their 3-2 win over the Capitals on Dec. 18.
- The Flyers are 14-4-3 outside of Wells Fargo Center, and their 31 road points on the road put them in a tie with the Rangers for the most in the NHL. They’ve gone 3-2-0 in their last five road contests, most recently beating Buffalo, 5-2.
- The Flyers are one of only two teams in the Eastern Conference to have a better goal differential than the Bruins. The B’s are a plus-30 on the season, while both the Flyers and Penguins are a plus-33. The Canucks lead the league with a plus-42 differential.
- Patrice Bergeron has two things going for him entering the game, as he’s scored one of the Bruins’ four goals against the Flyers this season and is riding hot streak consisting of 17 points in his last 13 games. Bergeron recorded his first career hat trick on Tuesday night.
Tyler Seguin, who also scored in that Dec. 1 game, is coming off a two-point night Tuesday.
- Since scoring the Bruins’ only goal against Philadelphia on Dec. 1, Nathan Horton has just one tally, a second-period strike against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That’s a span of 12 games with just one goal. Horton has 12 on the season.
- The Bruins have scored 10 goals without allowing one dating back to the third period of their 4-2 win over the Penguins on Monday night. Those numbers are of course helped a bit by the fact that the majority of them came against the lowly Senators.
STORLYINES GOING IN
- It seems there have been a lot of instances of wondering whether a player hindered by an undisclosed injury will be able to go. This time, it’s Milan Lucic. The Bruins’ leading goal-scorer was kept out of Tuesday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that the injury is “hopefully a day-to-day situation.” [UPDATE: Lucic will not play.]
- The last time the Flyers were in town, Jody Shelley became a villain to Boston when he shoved B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid into the end boards while the two were racing for an iced puck. McQuaid was shaken up a bit, while Shelley was suspended for two games.
- That Dec. 11 was a forgettable one for Marc Savard. It was his turnover that led to Mike Richards‘ game-winner in overtime. It was Savard’s fifth game since returning from post-concussion syndrome.
In 19 games this season, Savard has six points (2 G, 2 A) and a team-worst minus-8 rating.
As much talk as there was following Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators about Patrice Bergeron and his first career hat trick, there was just as much about the impressive way the Bruins followed up their dramatic win in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier.
“It’s huge,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You want to follow up with a good performance. You don’t want to have obviously a nice comeback game and then come back and just ruin it. I mean that’s totally something you don’t want to do.”
The Bruins showed what they call in hockey “good jump” in getting up 2-0 after one and 5-0 after two periods. But for Chara to consider the night a truly good one, the B’s would have to finish the job.
“Even after the first 20 or 40 minutes of tonight’s game, you don’t want to, at the end of the night, count regrets that you played well for 40 and bad for 20,” he added. “You just want to have a good feeling after the game that you really played a solid 60 minutes.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed. It was a good night from what he could see from behind the bench.
“I like the way we skated. I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone,” Julien said. “We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. It was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”
It’s rare for a team to show such good energy on the back-end of a back-to-back in mid-January like the Bruins did but Tim Thomas wasn’t complaining, as he posted his career-best sixth shutout of the season.
“We looked like we had really good legs tonight on a back-to-back with the heavy schedule that we’ve had and that’s a good sign too,” Thomas said. “A lot of things went our way tonight.”
And, of course, leading the way was Bergeron with his first career hat trick.
“We’ve talked about it, after the game in Pittsburgh, to just carry what happened in the last three minutes, you know, and carry that over to tonight, and I think we did that, you know, all game, the 60 minutes that’s what we needed.”
What the Bruins needed and got on Wednesday was the day off to stay inside and avoid the blizzard outside. They’ll need their rest with the Flyers and Penguins coming to town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Just another two games to test how far these Bruins have come in turning around their season.
Mike Milbury of NESN, NBC Sports, and Hockey Night in Canada made his weekly appearance on Dale & Holley on Wednesday, discussing all things Bruins and his feelings on the NHL All-Star game.
Milbury was quite direct in speaking about Patrice Bergeron‘s first career hat trick, which he scored in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators. Blake Wheeler appeared to have scored what was ruled Bergeron’s second goal, and Milbury wasn’t happy with how it was credited.
“The guys that do the scoring have the responsibility to get it right. They have to do everything to get it right. Do they fudge a little on [an assist] once in a while? I bet they do, and I think that’s OK, but they’ve got to be honest and true to it,” Milbury said. “Somebody’s got to tell me there’s a different angle that showed Bergeron scoring the goal, because I watched it several times, and pretty clearly, Blake Wheeler with a backhand [scored]. … I didn’t think there was any question whose goal that was.”
Milbury said that given the fans throwing their hats twice — Brad Marchand‘s second-period goal was initially credited to Bergeron, which at the time would have been his third goal of the game — the Bruins and Bergeron are better off leaving the matter alone rather than giving Wheeler his due credit.
“It would be tough to do that after the three or four times they showered him with hats,” Milbury said, adding that Bergeron should just “take the damn hat trick.”
As for the state of the Bruins, who have been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season with their ups and downs, Milbury said it’s difficult to gauge what type of team the Bruins are given their inconsistent nature. The Bruins have won their last two games after blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the rival Canadiens on Saturday.
“This is a hard team to pin down right now. I’m trying to figure out, what are they? … I’d just like to see this team hit on all cylinders so I can figure out how good they are,” Milbury said. “Now, they’re a good team, not a great team. They’re going to have to rely on some great goaltending and solid defense. … I’m still not sure just how good this group is.”
Since returning from post-concussion syndrome, center Marc Savard, who is in the first year of a seven-year deal, has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the league’s elite playmakers. He has made costly mistakes and has been benched by Claude Julien in multiple situations. Milbury said the Bruins will need him to get back to where he was for the team to be competitive late in the season and in the playoffs.
“It’s going to be critical to their success to have Savard finding the way back to his game,” Milbury said. “Most guys who have injuries of big magnitude, of some sort of significance, take a long time. … Hopefully by the end of the year, Savard will have found his rhythm and they find the right match for him with linemates.”
Milbury has been one of Nathan Horton‘s biggest critics since the Bruins acquired the forward from the Panthers over the summer. He said that Horton’s play “troubles” him, and that he’s unsure of why the talented winger is so prone to disappearing in games.
“I don’t know if it’s focus, or if it’s his level of competitiveness, but this guy form a tools standpoint has a hell of a lot more to offer on a regular basis,” Milbury said.
“You have got to be involved. You’ve got to be involved on the forecheck, and hopefully you’re involved in the physical side. He’s not afraid, but it doesn’t come naturally to him.”
With Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara both being named to the All-Star game, Milbury criticized the weekend for being “silly” and wondered whether the players would rather have the time off.
“Think of the players. They don’t want to be there,” Milbury said. “Except for the guys that just got named to their first or second All-Star team and want to be in the elite group — I can understand what an honor that’s got to be — but once you’re through that thrill, if it’s not in your city, it’s got to be [tiring].
“They’re going to be escorted around all these nonsensical events … and then play a half-assed game, and then they’ll go home tired,” he added. “Good idea.”
Milbury’s dislike for the All-Star festivities wasn’t limited to the NHL. He said he feels the same way about the Pro Bowl and All-Star games of the MLB and NBA.
“I know it’s a celebration of the sport, but for me it’s not celebrating the sport. It’s denigrating the sport.”
It was only fitting that Patrice Bergeron had to record his first career hat trick twice.
After all, when you’ve waited seven years and 418 games, what’s another 10 minutes and 57 seconds? When the puck deflected off Sergei Gonchar‘s skate and past Brian Elliot at 14:07 of the second period, everyone assumed it was Bergeron who tipped it home. It was actually Brad Marchand who took the centering shot and it hit off Gonchar’s skate, never reaching Bergeron before it slid past Elliot.
“To be honest, I know we were both battling in front and it hit something, for sure, a skate, and Marchy told me it hit my skate so I thought I had it, but to be honest I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure.”
Still, it was announced in the building as Bergeron and the hats came raining down. Then, as fans were making their way out of their seats at the end of the second period, it was announced that the goal was changed to Marchand, meaning Bergy stood at two goals on the evening.
“It was funny, because, after the second, everyone was congratulating me about the hat trick, then it came back and, you know, ‘Hey it’s not yours, it’s Marchy’s’, and everyone was saying that ‘It’s only your first one?’, since I’ve played, so, I guess I wanted to get the last goal,” Bergeron said with a smile.
So, as the Bruins were cruising to a 6-0 romp over the Senators, Marchand made good on a promise to find him in the third period to make good and finally get Bergeron his first three-goal game in the NHL and his first since Juniors.
“It was disappointing that they took that goal away from him,” Marchand said. “I think there was a 2-on-1 there I tried to get it to him also. It is great he finally got there with a beautiful shot.”
Marchand came down the left wing and found Bergeron in the corner. Bergeron came out to the bottom of the circle and fired a shot that beat back-up goalie Mike Brodeur – in his second NHL appearance – and Bergeron finally had his hat trick.
“Everyone’s leaving the building with no hats on, so yeah, I guess I wanted to get it, because I guess everyone threw their hats on the ice. To be honest, I never really thought about it. You know, I don’t really stop and think about those kind of individual goals, but it’s always nice to have it out of the way.
Bergeron is one of the hottest players in the NHL, with five goals in his last three games and 17 points in his last 13 games.
“Our forecheck has been a lot better, we’re in sync as a line a little but more,” Bergeron said. “You know, I thought we were doing good things, also, before, but it’s just I think the puck wasn’t going in and now it is, so you know, obviously, you’ve got to take it, and go with it.
“But obviously, I’m trying to bring as much as I can for our team to win, you know, and if we get some success as a team, so, now we have a stretch here before the All-Star break, you know, and we obviously want to get some points.”
|Bruins throttle Senators behind Patrice Bergeron’s first career hat trick||01.11.11 at 9:37 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron notched his first-career hat trick Tuesday night, as the Bruins blasted their way past the Senators, 6-0, at TD Garden.
Bergeron had what was the game-winning goal when he opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first, and added goals in the second and third period. Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin netted the Bruins’ other three goals. David Krejci also had a two-point night.
Tim Thomas made 31 saves in the victory, recording his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.
With the Canadiens winning on Tuesday, the Bruins held onto their two-point lead in the Northeast Division.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Tim Thomas has now set a career high for shutouts in a season — just one game into the second half of the season. Thomas, who began his season with a shutout in Prague, had gone 12 starts without blanking a team, his longest stretch of the season.
With six shutouts, Thomas now holds the league lead all to himself, while also leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage. He’s the easy mid-season choice for Vezina.
- Bergeron continued the torrid pace he is on. With his three goals on Tuesday night, Bergeron now has 17 points over the last 13 games. He’s been rather balanced in going about it as well, as he has eight goals and nine assists in that stretch.
- Seguin has struggled to produce in home games, as he had just four points at the Garden prior to Tuesday night. He turned that trend around by having his first multi-point game at the Garden (his second multi-point game of the season, as he had a goal and an assist on Jan. 1 in Buffalo).
- That’s two straight games with a goal for Brad Marchand. His value to this team can’t be stressed enough, as he’s effective both as an energy guy and as a bigger contributor when called upon to play on the the second line.
Marchand has three points over his last three games. He leads Bruins rookies with eight goals this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Two brave souls tossed tossed their hats onto the ice after Marchand’s goal, believing it to be Bergeron’s hat-trick-notching tally. Before one could even commend their daring nature, the entire ice was filled with the hats thrown for the wrong reason.
The question is whether the folks who went to the pro shop in between periods to restock were the same ones who tossed hats once Bergeron actually got the hat trick.
- Not that the Bruins need it, but they get their first power play of the night until 6:58 of the third period. Drawing penalties has been a struggle for the B’s at times this year, and considering they’re not a safe bet to win by six every night, it remains an area that needs improvement.
The B’s ended up with two more power plays late in regulation thanks to a Matt Carkner roughing call and a delay of game. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play.
- While the game was a blowout, it was hardly a triumph. The Senators were equally as bad as the bruins were on the night, as Ottawa seemed to pride itself in turning the puck over in the their zone throughout the night.
The Bruins opened up a 5-0 goal lead in the second period with some scoring, some fighting, and hundreds of hats thrown prematurely.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin all scored in the period. Bergeron’s second goal of the game came when he banged one past Brian Elliot point-blank at 2:50. He was believed to have recorded the third goal of his perceived hat trick at 14:07, but after fans showered the ice with hats and the play was reviewed, it was determined that the puck went off Sergei Gonchar’s skate and it was credited to Marchand. Seguin picked up his seventh goal of the season just over a minute later.
The period also featured a couple of fights. Nathan Horton dropped the gloves with Jesse Winchester and the two seemed to still have words from each others’ respective penalty box. Shawn Thornton went with Matt Carnker at 10:26.
Andrew Ference has the only minor penalty of the period, and through two periods, the Bruins have not had a power play. The Bruins are outshooting Ottawa, 27-22. The shutout remains intact for Tim Thomas.
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