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.

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins made a few roster moves after a slogging 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche earlier this week, with an eye toward getting some competition going among the forward group, and perhaps spark a team struggling offensively.

Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari were brought up from Providence to skate with the big club on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena and gritty Anton Blidh was returned to the P-Bruins after a solid stint as a fourth-line energy guy for the Black and Gold. 

Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller were the late skaters off the ice following morning skate, so those will be the healthy scratches for the Bruins with both Acciari and Heinen in the lineup for the Black and Gold tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Heinen has been tearing it up for the P-Bruins lately with four goals and seven points in his past five games with a plus-2 rating, including a couple of two-goal games for a Providence team that’s starting to heat up. 

Otherwise, things looked fairly similar for the Black and Gold, who didn’t make any changes to the struggling top power-play unit that was a disaster on Thursday night in the first period. It was Patrice Bergeron in the bumper role, Ryan Spooner on the half-wall, David Backes at the front of the net and David Krejci and Torey Krug manning the point positions. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings based on the morning skate: 

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Heinen-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Acciari/Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-K. Miller

C. Miller

Rask

 

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

BOSTON - It would appear things can’t continue the way they are for the Bruins' power play. 

After a disastrous first period helped dig them a hole in a 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, there was some pretty serious soul-searching going with a man-advantage that has been both toothless and mistake-prone on far too many nights. 

In the Colorado loss a couple of early power-play possessions, one that was completely ineffectual with zero meaningful possession or shots on net and then a second that turned into a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal, dropped the B’s into a hole they couldn’t climb out of. The shorthanded sequence was particularly damning with a desperate Torey Krug diving to keep a puck in the offensive zone, and then watching helpless as MacKinnon beat him to the loose puck and then took off down the ice behind the last line of B’s defense. 

Krug placed the blame on himself for the high-risk play at the offensive blue line, but it’s hard to wholly blame somebody that was using hustle to try and make something happen offensively. 

“I thought they were tired, and if I could keep it in then we keep them hemmed in and get them running around. At the end of the day, it’s a 50-50 play, but maybe early in my career, I learn that now and probably won’t do it anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to go through those things to learn,” said Krug. “It’s just one of those plays I thought instinctively I could get there and keep him hemmed in, and you could even tell when he went in on the breakaway that he was tired.

So, if I keep that in and we keep them hemmed in, hopefully we get a couple chances. But we’ve got to be better, some of our better players on our team, and we’ve got to take the onus on ourselves to start capitalizing on opportunities and changing the game for our team.”

Nobody is going to reasonably suggest that a dangerous power-play guy like Krug be removed from the special-teams unit, but clearly something needs to change. The Bruins are tied for 25th in the NHL on the power play with a 14.1 percent success rate, and they can’t blame lack of opportunities because they’re middle of the road when it comes to power-play chances this season. 

Only the Flyers, Stars and Blackhawks have allowed more shorthanded goals than the Bruins (four) in 28 games played as well, so the Black and Gold essentially aren’t playing good defense or offense on the power play this year. Krug saie that it’s a mindset thing and that the Bruins need to get back to the confident, energetic way they attacked penalty kills last season. 

“We want to make plays, we want to help our team. It’s not like we’re out there not trying to make plays or anything, but we just have to be better,” said Krug. “We’ve got to have better focus, crisper passes, making quick plays to the net and making things happen. I feel like right now we might just be standing there, [just kind of] static, just hoping that things are going to happen and we’re not making them happen. 

“So, we’ve got to change our mindset, and like I said, those guys on that unit are the guys that will go to work and make sure we’re better next time for our team.”

But it goes beyond simple approach. The Bruins lost their second-leading PP goal-scorer last season when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Other top unit PP performers like David Krejci,  Krug and Ryan Spooner haven’t been as good this season. Still, perhaps the biggest reason is the all-around offensive disappearance of Patrice Bergeron, who had 12 goals and 13 assists on the PP last season for a team-best 25 power-play points. This season, Bergeron has one goal and two points on the PP in 25 games and has been neutralized by opposing penalty kills from his “bumper” position roving up and down the slot. 

The Bruins are determined to ride things out with Bergeron both five-on-five and on the PP, and rightfully so, given his quality, productive body of work with the Bruins. He’s Boston’s best player and you don’t ever go away from those guys. 

But Bergeron has been ordinary for the Bruins on the PP after being extraordinary last season, and not much is going to change with the B’s man advantage unless No. 37 begins to find the range, confidence and short-term quick burst that’s needed for the B’s power play to flow through him like a well-oiled scoring machine. A greater impact by David Backes on the net-front power play could help and an uptick in PP production from Krug, Krejci and Spooner would obviously be welcome for the Black and Gold. 

But the Bruins power play is designed to play off Bergeron’s many qualities and strengths when he’s at his best, and a big part of the B’s troubles and Bergeron’s troubles are linked together because No. 37 has been less than his best in a season that’s been challenging for him from the very beginning.