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.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.

 

Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

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Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting for the next wave of announcements that the Bruins have signed college players out of the NCAA tournament.
 
-- Former Wild goaltender Josh Harding is finding his way after his MS diagnosis forced him out of the NHL prematurely.

-- Young D-man Seth Jones is becoming the “hoss” defenseman that the Blue Jackets will need come playoff time.

-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has Wild coach Bruce Boudreau calling a loss to the Canucks “embarrassing” as the hard times continue for Minnesota.  

-- Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney is ready to step up for the Leafs after they lost Frederik Andersen to injury.
 
-- Old friend David Warsofsky has been recalled from the AHL and will be with the Penguins as crunch time hits ahead of the playoffs.

-- USA Hockey is now reportedly reaching out to rec league and former Division III women’s hockey players to find a replacement roster for the world championships as the USA women continues their boycott.
 
-- For something completely different: We have an honest-to-goodness think piece about pulling the “Irish Exit.” Well, okay then.