BOSTON (CBS) – So if Patrice Bergeron is again going to be Canada’s faceoff and penalty-kill specialist at the Olympics, maybe they don’t need to play the games the next two weeks in Sochi, Russia.
Bergeron again showed that he’s more than just a defensive wiz and perennial Selke Trophy favorite on Saturday, as he scored two goals and added an assist in the Bruins’ 7-2 shellacking of the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
The drubbing helped the Bruins cruise into the Olympic break on an 8-1-2 roll. And the pre-Olympic finale provided Bergeron with a chance to do something that he might not get to do too much of in Sochi – get offensive chances.
Bergeron hadn’t scored in five games, but in the prior six games he’d posted 4-6-10 totals as he and linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith caught fire. Bergeron now has 16-22-38 totals and might be able to chip in a little more for the Canadians, if they let him.
“Yeah, I mean it does give you some confidence when the puck is rolling for you, you have some puck luck. It’s always good,” Bergeron said after beating the Senators. “And I thought everyone was playing really well tonight. And our transition was great, and that’s why we had so many odd-man rushes.”
Against the Senators, Bergeron was plus-2 and he’s now plus-25 on the season. His 59.7 success rate on faceoffs ranks second in the NHL. Although his 55-point pace for the season might be a little off the mark compared to recent seasons, Bergeron is still a player Bruins coach Claude Julien never has to worry about at either end of the ice.
“To me, [his offense] seems [to have] picked up in probably the last 10 games. I’ve seen his game offensively progress,’ Julien said. “A lot of it has to do with him, but also his linemates have gotten better along that way. To me, he’s always been that guy that’s that perfect fit. He’s as reliable defensively as he is offensively. He’s going to give you a fair amount of production and a fair amount of points, yet he’s going to give you that same kind of, I guess, comfort feeling in your end of the ice as well. Those guys are hard to find and when you have them, like I said, you try to hold onto them.”
Now it’s on to Sochi, where there’s no telling what Bergeron’s role will be on a team that’s deep everywhere, but is particularly overflowing with talent at center. Although Bergeron got banged up in Vancouver, he toughed it out and contributed as much as he could to the gold-medal performance. Regardless of how the tournament unfolds, Bergeron knows better now what it takes to win and what it’ll take for him to aid the Bruins when he returns.
“I mean, it’s one of those things that when you’re in a tournament like that, you’ve got to definitely handle the nerves and everything from game to game and try to get better and to improve every game and to not look too far ahead and try to handle everything,” Bergeron said. “That being said, when you come back, it’s one of those things, it was unfortunate last time that I got hurt. But hopefully this time around it’s going to be different and I’ll be able to go out there and play well, have a big role or whatever role it is, and I’m ready for whatever.”
One thing Bergeron and his Canadian companions won’t have to deal with in Sochi is the home-ice pressure from Vancouver. Nonetheless, Canada is still Canada, and anything less than the ultimate prize will open the Olympic team up to scorn from the masses.
“I mean I think you always have the same expectations for yourselves and you always want to win no matter where you are,” Bergeron said. “So I don’t think it should be any different.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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