BOSTON (CBS) — This season hasn’t exactly been filled with too many spectacular highlights for the Boston Bruins. With just one 10-goal scorer through nearly half of the season, and with an average of just 2.54 goals scored per game, it’s become clear that the Bruins won’t be spending too much time on Top 10 reels or Best Goals of the Year sequences.
Instead, if the Bruins want to score enough goals to win, it’s going to take some old-fashioned hard work.
And on Tuesday night, needing a win to send the team into Christmas on a positive note, it was Patrice Bergeron to provide it.
Because really, who else would it be?
Bergeron, the Bruins’ leader in points (26), provided an assist on what proved to be the game-winner against Nashville, and he did it using “the full 200 feet” — a distance he’s traveled so often while making great plays that it’s basically become a cliche.
The 29-year-old pivot worked from behind his own net, eventually looking up and sending a 50-foot pass to Brad Marchand in the neutral zone. Marchand carried the puck into the Nashville zone before utilizing his patented pull-up move along the wall. He then left a soft pass in space for Bergeron, who carried the puck to the right faceoff circle and fired a shot on net.
Carter Hutton made the save, but Bergeron sped toward the opposite corner of the ice to pick up his own rebound. He then circled around the left faceoff circle before sending a cross-ice pass to Reilly Smith. As Smith sent a pass back to the blue line, Bergeron positioned himself in front of the net for a battle with Mattias Ekholm.
From the blue line, Kevan Miller sent a shot in Bergeron’s direction, and he was able to get his body in position to redirect the puck to Marchand, who buried it into a wide-open net.
The goal gave the Bruins’ a two-goal cushion at 4-2, and it proved to be vital, as the Predators would score their third goal early in the third period. Boston eventually won 5-3 after Loui Eriksson scored an empty-net goal. Bergeron recorded the primary assist.
“He was great,” Marchand said of his linemate. “He’s one of the top players in the league, and when he’s on his game he’s always making great plays and he did that again tonight. When he’s on, it allows the rest of our team to go, so hopefully he can continue to play the way he has the last 12 years.”
Keeping up that level of play won’t be a problem for Bergeron. As Marchand mentioned, it’s been Bergeron’s calling card since he arrived in the league in 2003, and his role has increased with each season that has passed.
This season, with Johnny Boychuk gone, with Zdeno Chara missing two months and with David Krejci missing significant time as well, the burden on Bergeron has been more than any one player could have rightfully taken on. He’s been on the ice for more goals against than normal, as evidenced by his plus-minus sitting at minus-3 as recently as Dec. 6.
Yet in his last nine games, he has one goal, nine assists and a plus-8 rating, accentuated by a three-assist night on Tuesday. With Chara and Krejci both back in the lineup, Bergeron has been able to get back to being Bergeron. In the case of Tuesday night, that meant putting in the hard work that is vital to earning victories.
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