Bergeron, Seguin pairing getting results

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Bergeron, Seguin pairing getting results

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin has heard it countless times throughout his first year plus with the Bruins.

The Bs puck prodigy has been consistently told to watch the way Patrice Bergeron moves with and without the puck, to study the way No. 37 competitively takes face-offs and remains up high to support his defensemen in the offensive zone, and to note the centers lead-by-example style and unmistakable maturity that have always led most to believe hes much older than 26 years old.

It seemed only natural that Seguin the makeshift winger and Bergeron the two-way center should have been paired together at some point in their careers. The time is now, and its been a prolific connection since they were dropped on the same forward line.

Offensively Bergeron is good, but defensively hes one of the best two-way players in the league, Claude Julien said. To play on Bergerons line Tyler is going to have to play against many of the other teams big lines. If Seguin wants to run with him and play on that line, then he needs to be reliable that way. It really forces him to also become a great two-way player.

Patrice is also one of our hardest workers, and to keep up with Bergie youre going to have to be a hard worker. So it really is making Seguin a better player in that way.

Bergeron has always been an underrated offensive force for the Bruins given his defensive prowess. But hes also the only player on the Bs roster aside from Milan Lucic thats scored 30 goals before in an NHL season so the potential is there.

As much as people are fixated on the high standard of play Bergeron can hold Seguin accountable to, there is also some good the youngster can bring to Bergerons world.

That makes it the kind of symbiotic hockey relationship that can stand the test of time, and produce effective results.

Certainly when Bergie gives him the puck its going to end up in the net oftentimes, said Julien. Throughout the years he hasnt always had the luxury of playing with those dynamic offensive players, but hes been paired with hard-working guys. At the end of the night youd see all the work theyd do in the offensive zone without getting rewarded, but Bergie has a good chance right now with a player thats going to help him in that area.

The duo has teamed together for six goals in four games since Seguin was slotted in at the right wing. Theyve looked just as dynamic to the naked eye as they have on the stat sheet with tape-to-tape passes and rushes up the ice that strike right at the heart of opponents defenses.

Theres a connection between those two forward forces skating together and the Bruins jumping from 20th in the NHL in goals scored per game to sixth. Seguins offensive instincts and unique ability to create plays on the ice with rare hockey vision dovetails with Bergerons long-underrated hands, shot and ability to finish off plays when put in the position to score.

Since Claude Juliens arrival in Boston, Bergerons biggest role has been as the epicenter of a super-checking line expected to hold down the other teams best forward groups while kicking in some offense as side benefit. It became a little more than that last season when Marchand found a permanent spot on Bergerons left side, and now the center has his young, speedy, skilled winger on the other side as well.

The right wing spot now inhabited by Seguin was previously manned by marginal offensive talents like Chuck Kobasew, Marco Sturm and an aging Mark Recchi among others. They brought different strengths to the table that complimented Bergeron nicely, but Seguin is elite in a way that only Recchi could have understood when he wore a younger mans clothes.

The new results have been spectacular, and Bergeron has been a big beneficiary as hell continue to be as long as the current line combinations stay together. Bergeron has six points on the strength of five assists all of which have gone toward Seguin goals in four games since getting teamed with Seguin along with a plus-5 and nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game.

Bergeron is the type of player that you get amazed by a little bit, said Seguin. In our defensive end hes so good and thats where I want to be in a few years.

The duo put on a show for a national Canadian audience when they combined for three goals against the Leafs while stunning Octobers best hockey team, the Leafs, last weekend. It was also an alert precision pass from Bergeron to Seguin cutting toward the net against the Islanders that helped knock the wind out of New York in true quick-strike form.

Theres no reason to believe that cant keep up, and its got both forwards excited about the possibilities.

Bergeron smirked when asked about what it could mean for him offensively to have a nice, long run with an offensive force of nature like Seguin. Hes clearly having a good old time racking up points and wins as any hockey player would be. Too often in the past Bergerons linemates couldnt match his speed, hands and hockey IQ on the ice, but hes enjoying talented wingers like Seguin and Marchand for as long as it lasts.

Bergeron is on pace to put up his first 70 point season since prior to the horrific concussion four years ago that nearly ended his career, and he's once again putting together all the pieces to a dominant all-around game.

There are plays weve worked on a lot of practice. I like to get Seguin the puck when he gets open and he does a good job of moving without the puck to get himself open, said Bergeron of the chess match on the ice that they seem to be playing at a higher level right now. Its nice. Hes got the speed that catches defensemen off guard because of it. Youve got to respect it and back off to give me more space in the middle.

We need to keep talking and keep communicating because thats how you build chemistry. There is always improvement to make, but so far so good.

Its been a lot more than good.

The pairing of Bergeron and Seguin as a 1-2 scoring combination is the best thing thats happened offensively to the blue collar Bruins in a long time.

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.