By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
The blizzard that postponed Thursday’s game at TD Garden spared someone.
Whether it was Patrice Bergeron, who was feeling really sick, or the Florida Panthers, who didn’t have to face an ill Bergeron, was debatable.
But on Saturday the Carolina Hurricanes found out that the Panthers probably got lucky because it turned out a sick Patrice Bergeron is the most dangerous kind of Patrice Bergeron.
He matched a Bruins single-game record Saturday with four goals in a 7-1 drubbing of the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
On top of being sick to the point where he was not looking forward to having to play the Panthers on Thursday before the NHL called off the game, Bergeron had a collision in practice Friday and landed on his wrist. He was angry throughout the rest of the session until he scored on a one-timer during extra work and skated directly for the exit.
Bergeron’s scoring prowess continued against the Hurricanes, starting with a shorthanded goal 3:14 into the Bruins’ five-goal first period.
“For sure I think it was one of those nights where the puck was going in but also I was finding that slot, it seemed like it was open,” said Bergeron, his voice with a bit of a Tom Waits rasp. “And Brad [Marchand] kept finding me there, so he was doing a good job of making those plays. And it seemed like I had a lane so I was trying to take it.”
Marchand finished with four assists, including the primary assist on Bergeron’s next two goals –one with 5:26 left in the first period, the next 5:36 into the second period. Bergeron’s long-timer linemate was impressed.
“It’s pretty impressive, yeah,” Marchand said. “Anytime you can get four goals in a game, three is impressive, so being part of this one and seeing him have the game he had, it was definitely up there. But I think [winning] the Olympics, and winning the [Stanley] Cup and just being Patrice Bergeron’s above that.”
Bergeron has scored 30 goals or more in a season three times but his defensive game has always overshadowed his offensive prowess. The four Selke Trophy wins, the Olympic team selections – Bergeron owes them to his ability to shutdown opponents. But there’s always been offensive talent that’s gone somewhat untapped for the benefit of the Bruins as a team. No one doubts Bergeron could be a 40-goal scorer, but the Bruins would then still be looking for that first Stanley Cup in the past 40-plus years and would look greatly different as a team.
The Bruins’ depth has allowed coach Bruce Cassidy to cast Bergeron and his linemates in more of an offensive role. Less zone stars in the defensive zone means Bergeron’s line can go on the attack and it’s paid off. Bergeron now has 16 goals, the same total as Marchand and David Pastrnak (who ended on a 10-game goal drought with an assist from none other than Bergeron).
After Bergeron’s goal early in the second period, Marchand and Pastrnak greeted their center with a brief hug. Defenseman Kevan Miller joined, but it looked like Bergeron’s teammates were trying to congratulate him but not pick up his cold. Maybe they were also a little shocked by his second career hat trick.
Defenseman Torey Krug flew at Bergeron late after picking up the puck. The hats fell from the sky.
Bergeron’s fourth goal, 5:09 after his third, elicited more of a “you can’t be serious” reaction from everyone. On a night that the final score indicated this wasn’t a game worth watching, Bergeron made history as the 16th Bruins player to score four goals and the first since Dave Andreychuk in 1999.
Bergeron’s hard work has paid off during a prolific career in all facets of the game, but this time he produced a remarkable offensive performance.
“I’ve taken those shots many, many times,” Bergeron said. “Obviously I can’t put a number on it but it’s something I work on mostly every practice with [assistant coach Jay Pandolfo], taking some shots from the slot. It was nice to get rewarded I guess.”
He’ll be glad to get over his current cold, but Bergeron had to be satisfied that he found a new way to make the Hurricanes sick.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.