Bruins

Bergenheim key to Tampa's battle

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Bergenheim key to Tampa's battle

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Tampa Bay's offensive arsenal is packed with high-caliber NHL names: Stamkos, St. Louis, LeCavalier, Bergenheim.

Bergenheim?

Yes. What the winger lacks in household starpower he is making up for with playoff firepower. Sean Bergenheim scored his eighth goal of the postseason in the first period of Tampa's 5-2 win over Boston. The total is more than half his regular-season output (14 G, 80 GM) and currently leads the league.

He's modest.

"Well, you know, it's a good feeling, but to be honest the best feeling is that we're winning," Bergenheim said. "I'm obviously happy that I've been helping the team, but I think it's more of a line effort and our line that's been clicking."

Despite being plucked from the locker room to give the ever-exclusive podium interview, Bergenheim deflected praise toward his teammates. His 'For the Greater Good' attitude is not unusual. It's a good manners practice often exercised by athletes across all sports.

Or it's the honest-to-goodness truth.

Sean Bergenheim isn't threatening to eclipse the talent and skill of Steven Stamkos -- not even close -- but his amped-up efforts do make you consider the Lightning a little differently. Tampa is looking for contributions all over the ice. And finding them.

Martin St. Louis spoke about the role players.

"In the playoffs, you've got to raise your role even more," said St. Louis. "I think Bergenheim's taken a step in his game and that whole line's playing tremendous for us. They're playing some dominant minutes. They're tough to play against and that's what we want."

The 35-year old delivers his quotes tersely.

He's not quite surprised and delighted by the increased production of the bench. To St. Louis, these players are simply matching supply to demand. The playoffs are a time of war -- "good" isn't good enough -- and you can't hand out medals whenever a soldier goes beyond the call of duty. Survival is trickier, the stakes are higher and so is the bar.

Bergenheim has another great night? Slap him on the back and move on.

St. Louis has earned the right to his matter-of-factness. He is a Stanley Cup winner, he is the Lightning's all-time scoring leader, a power play specialist and the jackhammering heart of the team.

And he's exactly right about Bergenheim and the rest.

"Those guys are bringing it, everybody's bringing it," said St. Louis. "We need everybody this time of year. We don't have any passengers and that's why we have had success."

It's so simple: Which side do you want to be on? The side with five goals or the side with two? Do you want to win or do you want to lose? An obvious answer. That's when you look down the second third, and fourth lines and say, Don't tell me; show me.

"Those guys," said winger Teddy Purcell, "at the end of the day are going to make the difference."

On a night when zero goals are scored by St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa's No. 3 in franchise scoring history) or Stamkos (his 45 regular season goals were 2nd in the NHL), they have to. They've got to beat David Krejci on face-offs, draw penalties, translate Tomas Kaberle turnovers into points, block shots like Eric Brewer and stay on the net like Bergenheim.

"So far in the playoffs he's been a key," Purcell said. "He's one of the reasons why we're having success."

The Bergenheim sparks of success. Let these bench fires keep blazing? Tampa might burn a fire too big for Boston to put out.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.