Haggerty: Bergeron finally getting recognition, results

630450.jpg

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.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

bruins_austin_czarnik_082916.jpg

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to watching the Luke Cage Netflix series.

*The Cult of Hockey has no issues with yours truly ranking the Edmonton Oilers 29th out of 30 teams in my first preseason NHL power rankings.

*An interesting piece about Brian McGrattan and his battle with alcohol in his career as an NHL tough guy. I can honestly say having covered him a bit when he was in the Bruins organization that he was one of the scariest dudes I’ve ever talked to in an NHL dressing room. A nice guy, but very intense and always looked like he definitely enjoyed his work on the ice.

*Dennis Seidenberg hopped on with the Hockey Central crew today to talk about his new contract with the New York Islanders.

*PHT writer and Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike Halford has Guy Boucher with some serious Dion Phaneuf love going on in Ottawa.

*Jack Eichel is oozing confidence and swagger in his second NHL season with Buffalo looking to make a big step up this season.

*Scott Burnside said that the World Cup of Hockey could be coming to an end tonight and I think most predict that it will with a little bit of an anticlimactic thud due to the sheer awesomeness of Team Canada.

*For something completely different: “Aleppo Moment” sounds like a great name for a rock band. Not so much for a Presidential candidate.