BOSTON -- Clearly it’s a notable occasion when Patrice Bergeron decides that it’s time to drop the gloves and take care of business.
In the past it had only been during the playoffs with bouts against Evgeni Malkin – in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last spring – and Josh Gorges on April 18, 2009 when the Montreal defenseman had targeted his head in the first round of a playoff series against the Canadiens.
“He doesn’t live off of that, but he’s got that ability. When the time’s right he does it,” said Tuukka Rask. “Today was one of those games that somebody got on his nerve and he decided to drop.
“He’s one of those, you know, tough Irishmen.”
Bergeron clearly reached a boiling point in the second period after trading stick-work blows with 6-foot-8 Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers in front of the Buffalo net. Bergeron had slashed Myers on the back of his calves, and the B’s center then absorbed a stick between the legs that finally set him off along with a punch to the head.
That was enough to set both big name players into a hockey fighting rage that doesn’t often come over them. It was Bergeron’s first regular season fight in the NHL, and only Myers’ third NHL fight in his three seasons in the league.
“It’s just, I guess, one of those things that was in the heat of the moment,” said Bergeron. “We were kind both going at each other – cross-checking each other – and we just decided to I guess you know obviously drop the gloves.
“That last shot that I got in the face, there. I guess that was the last straw that really got me going, and got me fired up. I’d had enough.”
The fight was over quickly after both players landed a heavy punch or two, but it was clear watching their alternate captain scrap put a little energy back into Boston’s game.
The Bruins were holding onto a 2-1 lead at that point, and ended up scoring two more goals following the fight to finish off the 4-1 final score at TD Garden.
With four concussions in his past, one obvious question is whether Bergeron should just automatically avoid getting punched in the head. But the former Selke Trophy winner said he wasn’t even thinking about that.
“You don’t think about that when you’re on the ice, and you’re fired up when you’re not happy with what just happened,” said Bergeron. “I kind of realized pretty quickly that he’s pretty tall, you know. It was tough…he had a pretty good reach.”
The reach of Myers and a pretty stiff left handed punch from Bergeron ended the bout quickly, but it also revealed the NHL fighting when it’s at its best: two highly skilled players reaching the point of frustration with each other where dropping the gloves becomes an organic response.
Clearly it works for some better than others, however, and the Bruins improved to 12-5-0 this season when they earn a fighting major, and a 54-25-3 mark since the start of the 2011-12 season.