|In showdown of elite centers, Patrice Bergeron dominates Flyers’ Claude Giroux||10.09.14 at 12:23 am ET|
In theory, Wednesday night’s season opener between the Bruins and Flyers should have given us a great back-and-forth battle between two of the NHL‘s best centers. Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux both finished in the top five in Hart Trophy voting last season, and their lines were matched against each other for most of the game Wednesday night.
But instead of that great battle, what we got was a total beatdown in favor of the Bruins. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith dominated Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek all game long, rendering one of the best players in the league virtually invisible.
Bergeron won 10 of the 12 faceoffs he took against Giroux and ended up with a plus-16 Corsi (22 shot attempts for, 6 against), according to hockeystats.ca, while Giroux finished the night with a minus-18 Corsi (6 attempts for, 24 against). Bergeron and his linemates combined for seven shots on goal, while Giroux and his managed just two. It seemed like every time the two lines were on the ice, the puck was in the Flyers’ zone, and the numbers reflect that.
“They take pride in being a better line than the line that they’re facing up against,” Claude Julien said. “It’s just a trait that they have. They worked hard. You have to give them credit, too, for how they checked against that line because it had a lot of potential to be dangerous offensively. But those guys did a pretty good job of taking away those opportunities.”
The key was winning battles. Bergeron is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, but it’s not like he won all 10 of those faceoffs cleanly. Some of them required him outworking Giroux on a second or third attempt to win the puck back, and some of them required Marchand or Smith to jump in and beat the opponent to a loose puck.
Battles in the corner led to longer offensive-zone possessions. One of the best examples of this came with around 9:40 left in the second when Bergeron won a 1-on-1 battle in the corner to the left of the Flyers’ net. He came away with the puck and moved it back to Zdeno Chara at the left point. Chara then moved it over to Adam McQuaid, who sent a shot through a nice Smith screen, one that he was able to set by winning a battle for position. The shot didn’t go in, but it wasn’t an easy save either. Read the rest of this entry »
|Patrice Bergeron is in weirdest NHL 15 commercial||08.29.14 at 11:47 am ET|
Bergeron, who was voted the cover athlete of the EA Sports video game, beat out P.K. Subban to get on the cover. That means more bright lights for the quiet and humble center, and, apparently, poetry. This is a far cry from Bergeron’s license plate commercial from when he was a rookie in 2003-04.
As I’m posting this, I remember that GIFs exist. This is going to be interesting.
This is also weird, but less weird because it’s Brad Marchand:
|Jonathan Toews contract puts Patrice Bergeron’s deal in perspective||07.09.14 at 3:45 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Blackhawks finally delivered the mega-contracts to their mega-stars that the hockey world had seen coming for a mega-long time. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got, as they say, paid.
The numbers were the same for each: Eight years and $84 million, with the deals carrying annual cap hits of $10.5 million.
That’s a boatload of money, but great players in their prime get paid boatloads of money. Both contracts should be met with initial shock at the dollars followed by an understanding that the cap goes up over the years and that we’re talking about two of the best players in the league.
The Bruins don’t have a player like Kane, and not many teams do. However, Toews and Patrice Bergeron have spent the last few years (and figure to spend many more) battling one another for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top two-way forward.
Last summer, Bergeron got a mega-extension of his own: Eight years worth $52 million with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Now, there are obvious differences between Bergeron and Toews, with the biggest one that Toews is a better player, particularly offensively — that one’s kind of the biggie here.
They’re also different ages. Bergeron will turn 29 years old later this month, while Toews turned 26 in April.
Still, considering the two players are compared to one another each year in the Selke race (Toews edged Bergeron in the 2013 season, Bergeron won for the second time in three years this past season), it’s worth comparing the two contracts. The immediate takeaway from Toews’ deal is that, at $4 million against the cap less each year, Peter Chiarelli got Bergeron, perhaps for the rest of his career, at a pretty sweet rate.
Last season, the players put up similar offensive numbers, with Toews’ 68 points over 76 games edging Bergeron’s 62 points over 80, but Bergeron put up 30 goals while Toews netted 28. Bergeron’s faceoff numbers (third in faceoff percentage; Toews was fifth) and superior advanced stats (he finished third in the league among players with 25 or more games in Corsi Rel; Toews was 22nd) made him the Selke winner in the eyes of the Pro Hockey Writers Association.
It should be expected that Toews will regularly outproduce Bergeron offensively, while Bergeron figures to remain the better defensive player. They aren’t the same player, but they’re closer than their contracts suggest. Neither deal has begun yet (Bergeron’s starts this coming season, Toews’ the year after that), but count Bergeron’s as another savvy signing for Chiarelli.
|Patrice Bergeron can’t understand lack of effort in Game 7: ‘There’s no words to explain it’||05.15.14 at 12:25 am ET|
Patrice Bergeron stood in front of his locker and searched for the words that never really came. How did the Bruins lay such an egg in Game 7 with their 54-win, 117-point season in the balance?
“You can’t really, there’s no words to explain it,” Bergeron said. “Obviously got to give them credit, but we didn’t execute and we didn’t score the goals that we needed to get the momentum or whatever.”
From the moment the Canadiens’ Dale Weise took a pass from Danny Briere and beat Tuukka Rask, with Matt Bartkowski looking on, the Bruins looked demoralized.
“That first goal definitely sucked the energy out of us and it was hard to get it back,” Bergeron said. “We had some shifts that we did, but again, all in all, when we had some good chances they scored that second goal again. And bottom line, we’ve got to execute and score. Like I just said, we’ve got to definitely give them some credit where they deserve it, but we’ve got to be better.
“I don’t know if it was nerves, I think we’ve been there before, but yeah, definitely not the start that we needed. And that goal definitely took that energy out of us.”
|Carey Price thinks Bruins ‘got pretty lucky’ in their comeback win in Game 2, and Patrice Bergeron agrees (sort of)||05.03.14 at 5:33 pm ET|
Call it sour grapes. Call it the frustration that comes with letting in a highly questionable goal that tied the game. Or just call it Carey Price answering a question the way he saw it.
However you characterize the Canadiens goalie’s response to letting in three goals in a span of 5:32 of the third period Saturday, you can’t help but read the frustration in his words after the Bruins came from behind and beat Montreal, 5-3, to even the best-of-seven second-round series at 1-1.
“Well, they poured it on at the end of the game,” Price said. “They got pretty lucky, I thought. They were playing desperate at the end of the game, and they found a way to put it in the net. We’ve just got to regroup, realize the situation were in, we’re in a good spot, and move forward.”
But still, a closer look shows what the Bruins might be trying to do the rest of the series to be successful. For the better part of five periods, the Bruins had point-blank range shots on Price, including several by David Krejci in Game 1, and Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla in the first 40 minutes Saturday.
But then, with the B’s trailing 3-1 and facing the prospects of heading to Montreal down 0-2, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the center point that made its way through two Bruins parked in front of Price. That goal gave the Bruins desperately needed momentum. Just over three minutes later, Patrice Bergeron fired a shot from the sharp angle along the boards that went off defenseman Francis Boullion and past a screened Price to tie the game. Then, with the Canadiens unable to control the puck in front and Price racing around to his right, Reilly Smith fired a puck past P.K. Subban and into an empty net for the go-ahead goal.
Create mayhem in front of Price and live by the adage, “You can’t stop what you can’t see.” That is what got the Bruins back in the game in the third period and turned the game and series around heading to Montreal for Game 3 Tuesday night.
“That’s playoff hockey,” Price said. “That’s what it’s all about. Right now, they’re throwing pucks at the net and they’re finding a way through. So, we’re going to have to do the same on their end. I thought we’ve played well so far. You’ve got to give that team a lot of credit. They didn’t quit, and in that third period they found a way to come back.”
Price thought the Bruins got “pretty lucky.” Bergeron didn’t argue that point.
“I was just trying to find the net,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes, you never know. I can’t say that I meant to do it, but I got lucky and I’ll take the bounce.”
|Absolutely no surprise: Patrice Bergeron a finalist for Selke||04.24.14 at 1:02 pm ET|
DETROIT — To the surprise of no one, Patrice Bergeron finished in the top three in Selke voting for the trophy annually awarded to the league’s best defensive forward.
The other nominees were Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews; Bergeron will in all likelihood win, with Kopitar likely finishing second and Toews coming in third.
Bergeron won his first Selke in the 2011-12 season and just barely lost to Toews last season. With a 30-goal season, the most faceoff wins and first- and second-place finishes in Corsi and CorsiRel, respectively, this regular season, Bergeron appears to be in line for his second Selke.
“I’ve always been taught to play the game that way – both sides of the ice,” Bergeron said Thursday. “Growing up playing junior my coach put a lot of emphasis on that, and I tried to work on my faceoffs as well.
“I came into the league and guys like Ted Donato and other older guys that were taking a lot of pride in that aspect of the game helped me through it. Obviously, with the coaching staff here now, that’s something we put a lot of work on and I’m trying to get better at it.”
Zdeno Chara is the main reason as to why the Bruins are such a great defensive team, but its forwards — most notably Bergeron, who plays against other teams’ top lines — is why Boston regularly finishes with one of the league’s top goal-differentials.
“I think there’s no [surprise] about the nomination,” Chara said of Bergeron. “Even before it was announced, a lot of people knew that he would be one of the finalists. [It’s] well-deserved; he works really hard on both ends of the ice. He does so many things offensively, defensively that it’s nice that he’s recognized again. I’m sure he’s probably going to be one of the favorites to win it.”
Bergeron’s 30-goal season was the second of his career, as he scored 31 in the 2005-06 season. Given that he never cheats offensively or risks a potential odd-man rush for the sake of a scoring opportunity, the consensus is that he could score much more if he didn’t play such a responsible game.
Yet throughout his career, Bergeron has never cared to find out just what would happen if he sacrificed two-way play for scoring. That sense of responsibility is why he wears an “A” on his sweater and why the Bruins pay him handsomely. Next year, Bergeron will begin an eight-year, $52 million contract that makes him the team’s highest-paid forward.
“That’s the way I want to play the game,” Bergeron said. “It does feel natural for me to play both sides of the ice.”
|After challenging regular season, Loui Eriksson off to good postseason start with Bruins||04.21.14 at 9:17 pm ET|
When the Bruins traded for Loui Eriksson, one of the most common words associated with him was “underrated.”
He’d been a 36-goal-scorer and one of the better two-way players in the game, but because of his responsible style and the market in which he’d played, the narrative was that he didn’t get the credit he deserved while playing for the Stars.
So, when Eriksson was traded to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal, he went from being underrated to facing some lofty expectations. Eriksson struggled to find chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron early and suffered two concussions during his first regular season in Boston, and as such finished with just 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points in 61 games.
Two games into the playoffs, however, the Bruins are getting a combination of the player they saw after he returned from his first concussion — a player who was finding his way and providing a great blend of finesse and smarts in front of the net — and the player who was playing more confidently down the stretch on a line with fellow Sweden native Carl Soderberg.
Reilly Smith knows Eriksson as well as any of his teammates, as the two played together in Dallas before being sent to Boston as the two main pieces acquired by the B’s in the Seguin trade. In Sunday’s Game 2 against the Red Wings, Smith capitalized on Eriksson’s net-front work by jumping into the crease and knocking the puck into the net to give the B’s a 2-0 lead. It came on a power play that followed the expiration of the first penalty of a five-on-three, but Boston still had its five-on-three unit with Eriksson in front on the ice. That goal stood as the game-winner as the B’s went on to claim a 4-1 victory.
That wasn’t Eriksson’s only contribution. The Red Wings haven’t scored against his line and he has been a major part of a penalty kill that has limited the Red Wings to just two shots on goal — none of which have gone in — on six power plays.