By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, Patrice Bergeron has authored countless moments that could stand as the quintessential Patrice Bergeron play. A threat on all 200 feet of the ice, there are many, many candidates.
And on Sunday night, in the first game of their second round playoff series vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bergeron added yet another to the list.
This one came early in the third period, when a nothing moment in the hockey game turned into a Bruins goal in a matter of an instant.
After Brad Marchand carried the puck behind the Tampa net, Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh jumped on the loose puck and looked up ice to start a breakout. He didn’t look back to see Bergeron hot on his tail.
In a flash, Bergeron sped his way around Nikita Kuchverov and rode McDonagh’s hip. Bergeron saw a quick window to lift McDonagh’s stick and steal the puck, and he capitalized.
With his momentum carrying him away from the Lightning net, Bergeron sent a past toward linemate David Pastrnak, who didn’t hesitate to send a backhand feed across the goalmouth to Brad Marchand.
Marchand finished the job, giving Boston a 3-0 lead and leaving the entire Tampa team wondering what had just happened.
That Patrice Bergeron stick lift, though. 🤤 #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) August 24, 2020
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 24, 2020
At the time, the result of Bergeron being Bergeron looked like it would merely be a gratuitous insurance goal; it ended up standing as the game-winner. That marked two consecutive games where the game-winning goal was scored thanks to plays that seemingly only Patrice Bergeron makes — and he makes them on a regular basis.
“He has a gift that, the way he reads the game and his stick positioning and his ability to read plays. There’s just very few guys in the league that have that ability on the defensive side of things,” Marchand said of his longtime linemate. “I mean, lots of guys are good offensively and can cheat and pick pucks off. But he does it from a defensive standpoint. And he creates so many opportunities out of our zone, through the neutral zone, and on the forecheck, the way he did, where he’s picking pucks and lifting sticks and just his back pressure is incredible.”
After the 3-2 victory, Bergeron spoke matter-of-factly about how that play developed for him.
“Um, just trying to sustain some pressure on the forecheck,” Bergeron explained. “I thought the three of us were kind of going in and out and reloading and sustaining some pressure, and ultimately you’re trying to do that and get the puck back. So we were able to do it, and great pass by Pasta and obviously great finish by Marchand.”
While Bergeron would never spend too much time pumping up his own play, he fortunately has a linemate who’s never shy about his opinions.
“That goal was all him,” the goal-scoring Marchand said of Bergeron. “His forechecking ability there and great read. That’s why he’s going to be a Hall of Famer.”
Well, that … and about a thousand other plays just like it.
That may be the long-term impact of plays like the one Bergeron made to bamboozle McDonagh. But Bergeron and his teammates are far more concerned right now with the short-term effect, which in this case means taking a 1-0 series lead against a very dangerous Lightning team.