Haggerty: 'Bruins Way' returns with Bergeron

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Haggerty: 'Bruins Way' returns with Bergeron

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA, Fla. There is absolutely nothing incongruous about the Boston Bruins snatching their defensive groove back on the night Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup.

Boston cruised to a 2-0 shutout victory in Game 3 at the St. Pete Times Forum, giving the B's a 2-1 series lead, and there were certainly plenty of positive signs . . . with Bergerons health and effectiveness at the top of the list.

He leapt back into the lineup after missing the beginning of the series because of a mild concussion and started playing the Lightning like a Stradivarius violin. His presence was a big reason the Bruins, after allowing 10 goals in the first two games of the series, were back to defensive basics and smack in the middle of"the Bruins way" of doing things. It was all about clogging the middle of the offensive zone, holding down Tampa stars like Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier and controlling the game through puck possession.Anybody that doesn't see a connection between each of those items getting checked off the list and Bergeron's return from a head injury isn't looking hard enough.

Hes back and he definitely made a difference for us, said goalie Tim Thomas of Bergerons performance. Hes one of the best if not the best players on the team.

Prior to the game, the questions were obvious: How well would Bergeron play after this latest concussion, his third? How many minutes could he possibly play? Would the effects of suffering yet another head injury make him timid?

The answers: Great. A lot. And hell no.

Bergeron was on the ice for 19-plus minutes. He won faceoffs. He shadowed -- and shut down -- St. Louis, holding the Lightning star to only two shots and zero influence in a game that stalled the heart of soul of Tampa's offensive engine. He had zero points in four regular season games against the Bolts and again recessed from the offensive light against Tampa after jumping into the playoff mix.It's all about the defensive effort and winning 18 out of 28 draws for Bergeron against the offensively charged Lightning, and the two-way pivot was there to neutralizeall of it.

To be honest with you, I felt pretty good out there, said Bergeron. I felt like I was myself . . . Even though I missed a couple of games, as the game went on I felt like I was getting better."

Could Bergerons return also signal a revival of the group personality that is so brilliantly woven into the teams DNA? The team breakdowns and defensive ennui around Thomas in the first two games were a fairly damning trend, but Bergeron helped reverse course and provide a stabilizing influence where chaos reigned in the first two Eastern Conference Final games.

That felt more like a normal game, said Thomas, who made 31 saves. That felt like the game we played most of the season . . . That was Boston Bruins hockey . . . I was able to play more under control tonight, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that we played the way that Im used to.

The Bruins expect it to continue as Bergeron resumes his role as one of the best players still remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Expect the rest of the games in this series to resemble the defensive chess match in Game Three, and that means No. 37 will be right in the middle of it.

"I can't read the future, but if I was a betting man, I would think so," said defenseman Andrew Ference, who scored the Bruins' second goal. "Both teams went back to their styles.

"I saw them talk after last game, and I saw us talk. And I think both teams felt the exact same way. The wide-open play in the first two games is not a way to win a series and continue in the playoffs. This game was more like it."

Normal. More like it. "The Bruins way."

Any coincidence all those things returned with Patrice Bergeron?

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne

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Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering how much of a dark cloud Slava Voynov’s presence is going to bring to the World Cup of Hockey.

*PHT’s Joey Alfieri tracks the ups and downs of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a frustrating season.

*Jonathan Drouin says that he “definitely wants to be” part of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very rocky year with a happy ending for all.

*Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, Taylor Hall was one of a number of deserving Canadian players – including P.K. Subban -- left off the roster.

*The San Jose Sharks have come a long way from their inaugural season in the league.

*Ottawa Senators senior advisor Bryan Murray is still getting used to a new role after a change in the Sens front office structure.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has plenty of reasons to be proud after a very good year running hockey ops for the Penguins.

*For something completely different: this January Rolling Stone magazine piece on Stevie Nicks was an excellent retrospective.

 

 

Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'

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Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'

Bruins left wing Brad Marchand definitely altered a lot of people’s perceptions about him as a hockey player when he scored 37 goals this season, and embraced more of a leadership role on a B’s team getting younger by the year. The B’s agitator started to reap the rewards of those changed opinions with a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships in Russia earlier this month, and on Friday with his inclusion on a ridiculously talented Team Canada roster set for the NHL and NHLPA-organized World Cup of Hockey in the fall.

Marchand will join linemate Patrice Bergeron and head coach Claude Julien as part of the Team Canada contingent, and could even be part of a reunited Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line if Mike Babcock and Co. are looking for instant chemistry.

Either way Marchand was excited about suiting up for his country, and being part of a World Cup tournament that will include Bruins players Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak, David Krejci (who may not be available to play due to his hip surgery), Loui Eriksson and Dennis Seidenberg along with the Team Canada contingent.

“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is…it’s not an easy accomplishment,” said Marchand. “It’s not something you get to do very often, and to have that opportunity twice this year is very special and it’s not something I take for granted

“I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that. Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well. But regardless, that’s not why I play the game. I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game, so however they feel, then that’s their opinion. But [earning more respect league-wide] is a possibility.”

This is the fifth time Marchand has been selected to compete for his home country of Canada in international play. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward tallied four goals and three assists in 10 games while helping Canada earn a gold medal at the aforementioned 2016 IIHF Men’s World Championships, held earlier this month in Russia. Marchand previously won gold with Team Canada at the U-20 World Championships in 2007 and 2008. He also earned a bronze medal with Team Canada Atlantic at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-week tournament, featuring eight teams comprised of more than 150 of the best players in the NHL, will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Final. 

The involvement of so many Bruins players along with Julien will make for a spare NHL camp in Boston come September with so many important pieces out for what is traditionally the first two weeks of camp.