Bergeron taken long road to be one of NHL's best

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Bergeron taken long road to be one of NHL's best

LAS VEGAS, NV -- It's difficult to believe that five years ago some wondered if Patrice Bergeron's career might be over, or at the very least severely compromised because of a concussion that forced him to miss nearly an entire season with the Bruins.

But Bergeron has come back stronger than ever, and he was among the NHL's best at the Wynn Resort and Casino on Tuesday afternoon for the NHL Awards press availability.

Bergeron was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given to the NHL's best defensive forward, along with St. Louis forward David Backes and Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. It's stiff competition, but Bergeron stands a good shot at his first award after dominating in the face-off circle and finishing among the NHL's top-5 in plusminus this season.

Add that to 20-plus goals and 60-plus points for Bergeron, and it appears that No. 37 is finally ready to move onto the league's radar. He's gone from the NHL's most underrated player to it's most respected two-way center in the span of a year.

All that being said, Bergeron will never place too much value in an individual award whether he wins or loses.

"It's a great honor to be here and the Selke is something that I've always held in high regard," said Bergeron. "But I also don't get too hung up on these awards. I'd take a Stanley Cup over an award any day of the week."

Bergeron battled through a strained oblique during the playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals, and that underscored just how important the center's health is to the team's success. Bergeron couldn't battle at full strength and he couldn't take face-offs, and the Bruins were a lesser team for it.

B's Captain Zdeno Chara has had an appreciation for Bergeron's impact on the team while watching him grow over the years.

"A player like Bergie is somebody that I have the ultimate respect for," said Chara, "He has the kind of ability to be one of the top offensive players in terms of points, but he also understands the importance of playing a two-way game.

"His individual offensive game might suffer a bit while he pays attention to detail on defense, but it's all done in order to make a stronger team. That's what we're all about."

Bergeron has the best chance of any Bruins player to bring home hardware after last season. That's truly saying something given just how many wondered whether Bergeron would ever be able to reach his potential after the course of his career changed so drastically five years ago.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.