DETROIT – While Patrice Bergeron lost the opening faceoff at center ice to Stephen Weiss, the B’s two-way center also used enough force to snap Weiss’ stick in the process and sent him to the bench for another twig. Then in the same period Bergeron went hard into the corner to deliver a hit on Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith while passing the preseason contact test.
“It felt pretty good. I was able to battle in the corners and in front of the net. That was my biggest question: reaching and stretching out for pucks, and battling other guys,” said Bergeron. “But overall I felt good, and I’m pretty happy with it. Now it’s in the past and I can start looking forward.”
So Bergeron sent a message early that he was feeling fit physically, and then went out and proved it with 16:05 of ice time playing his two-way game in a solid 2-0 preseason win over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
“They were a good line for us tonight,” said Claude Julien. “[Marchand] was better, and Loui was able to be seen a little more with Bergeron on the line. He makes a big difference. I thought it was a good effort from everybody.
“We played hard, we fore-checked and we didn’t give them a lot of space,” said Julien. “Our guys reacted well to [Thursday] night, and what happens when you give players a little too much space.”
Bergeron hit the crossbar at one point in the second period on a shooting opportunity from the slot area, and was also hanging around the front of the net along with Carl Soderberg when the Big Swede popped in his second goal of the game just seconds into the third period.
He didn’t end with any points when the game was finished, but won 13-of-21 face-offs while starting to build up the chemistry with Marchand and new linemate Loui Eriksson. Best of all, he felt fine physically and is ready to put a moratorium on all health questions for the time being.
The lung, shoulder and rib injuries are all in the rearview mirror from the Stanley Cup Final, and it’s on to another hockey season attempting to climb the mountain one game at a time.
“I felt pretty good and I’m feeling good now too,” said Bergeron. “So now I’ve got that first one out of the way, and I can move forward.”