Haggerty: Bergeron finally getting recognition, results

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Haggerty: Bergeron finally getting recognition, results

NEWARK The NHL taped Bruins center Patrice Bergeron for one of their NHL 36 pieces precisely because hes one of the leagues most underrated superstars. It also doesnt hurt at all that hes the kind of model professional athlete the league wants representing them, and his "all access" video could be turned into a manual for professionalism in the NHL. It's the same manual that young players like Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand learn from on a daily basis.

On the show, Bergeron displayed -- with his typically tacit dignity -- exactly how important he is in helping hold a championship club together. The national TV spotlight and household namecachet bestowed upon him as a Stanley Cup champion might even be enough for Bergeron to finally break for All-Star berths and serious Selke Trophy consideration.

After all, so much of those things are built on reputation, and Bergeron keeps building his up by backing up the hype on the ice with hard work and productive results. Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas would seem to be shoo-ins for the NHL All-Star game three weeks from now in Ottawa, and Bergeron would make a wholly appropriate third member of the Bs All-Star contingent. It's a natural leap for those that value little things like dominatingbig face-offs at a nearly 60 percent clip, playing their best in meaningful perfformances like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals or being one of the unselfish leaders on the best team in hockey

Hes arguably the best two-way player in the game, said Shawn Thornton. Obviously the guys on our team think that more here than they do elsewhere. I dont want to take anything away from Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand, but if you take him away there are a lot more mistakes that would happening out there.

You see the way he covers up for everybody. Any mistakes are made hes always in the right spot to make up for it. Hes been remarkable for us all year and Im very surprised that he hasnt been up for any NHL awards before now.

Bergeron gave a signature performance Wednesday night in Bostons 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, with two precision strikes that eventually led to a blowout victory sprinked into an efficient night's work.

Bergeron scored a pair of goals on an evening that featured offense from three of the four forward lines, and backboned the kind of rebound performance that banished all memories of a sagging loss to the Dallas Stars last weekend.

It was still a 2-1 game in the second period when Bergeron got involved offensively after clamping down defensively on Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk. The Bruins were in the final seconds of killing off a Nathan Horton holding penalty when Bergeron stepped into the shooting lane of New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson at the right point.

Larsson got off a weak shot while attempting to maneuver free, Bergeron adeptly blocked the puck and then started what became an even-strength breakaway as Horton stepped out of the penalty box.

Bergeron pressed the issue all alone against Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, and waited for the seasoned goalie to make the first move. Once Brodeur dropped low to block any potential shot, Bergeron simply tucked the puck past his glove and handed the Bs an important third goal in the second period.

Its the exact kind of defense into offense transition and attack that has made Bergeron one of the most well-respect and feared competitors in all three zones.

I was trying to be in the shooting lanes to block the shot and then get some speed going to separate from the D-man. Luckily I was able to do that, said Bergeron. Were doing a good job of finding ways to get that big goal. Tonight that third goal was a big one and showed we werent satisfied.

Its something thats important. Being on the penalty kill you want to play defense first, but if you get the change offensively you want to make them pay. I was fortunate to be able to do that.

Bergeron finished fourth in Selke Trophy voting last season, but the video of his blocked shot into breakaway should be required viewing for NHL Award voters this season when deciding Bergeron, Ryan Kesler or Jonathan Toews as the best defensive forward.

Bergeron added his ninth goal of the season early in the third period when Seguin and Marchand teamed to enter the zone with speed, and Marchand found Bergeron wide open for a one-timer after he wheeled behind the net. The nine goals and 30 points dont put Bergeron at the top of the scoring charts, but have him trending toward 20 goals and 70-plus points along with his elite defensive contributions.

There were a handful of faceoff wins and some key offensive players for New Jersey that looked awfully frustrated after finishing a game battling with Bergeron for pucks, but the flashy part of his evening was over. He had two goals on two shots on net, the one blocked Larsson shot that turned into a goal and the knowledge he got the result he wanted at both the individual and team level.

Its rare all of those things line up like a perfect constellation for the team-oriented Bergeron, and his teammates will take vocal notice of his contributions even if his own modesty wont allow it.

Thats what weve been talking about forever. I dont know if you saw the NHL 36 show tonight, but we didnt, said coach Claude Julien. But its what it was all about: being such an underrated two-way player. Hes probably one of the best in the league.

Hopefully he gets a little more recognition with the greater exposure because we know how good he is. I dont think everybody around the league does, but certainly what he did tonight is indicative of what Bergie gives us every single night.

The NHL All-Star starters will be announced on Thursday morning and its assumed Thomas is an automatic for his third berth. But it would be all the more special for All Things Black and Gold if Bergeron can parlay the Stanley Cup, the model behavior, the NHL 36 honors and a good, old-fashioned outstanding regular season into some national recognition for No. 37.

The dominant display against the Devils was certainly an unmistakable Bergeron push in that direction.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold.