Bergeron happy to be back at full strength after injury was 'in my head a bit'


Bergeron happy to be back at full strength after injury was 'in my head a bit'

Now that it’s all over, Patrice Bergeron will let on that last season was more than a little bit of a character-testing slog for the always dependable center. 

The 32-year-old Bergeron battled ankle and sports hernia woes for the entirety of last season and, partially because of that, endured an uncharacteristically sluggish start to his season. Boston’s franchise player bounced back in the second half of the year to be closer to his normal, fully healthy self, but came up noticeably short of his usual full season numbers with 21 goals, 53 points and a plus-12 in 79 gritty games played. Bergeron was ultimately rewarded for gutting it out with a B’s playoff berth for the first time in three seasons, and then later recognized with an NHL record-tying fourth Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. 


So it was all worth it in the end, and now he’s approaching his normal levels after offseason surgery to repair the sports hernia. 

Bergeron is taking it easy in captain’s practices while continuing rehab for last spring’s surgery, but all systems are go for him to be ready at the start of the regular season. Better than that, Bergeron is enthusiastic about this season’s prospects knowing he won’t have the mentally taxing burden of an injury weighing him down through the entire year. 

As Bergeron tells it, the annoyingly nagging injury played into his slow first half before he adjusted to a reduced skating burst as a result of the sports hernia. It was noticeable at times that Bergeron simply couldn’t explode past opponents as he’d routinely done in the past, and he struggled to get to the right spots in the offensive zone in time to make a play. 

“It’s mostly just not having any pain, and being able to skate and have a full stride. It’s not having to think about it, and not having to need the muscle to warm up for 15 or 20 minutes before I was ready,” said Bergeron, who managed just 11 goals and 24 points in his first 49 games before finishing strong with nine goals and 28 points in 29 games following NHL All-Star weekend. “It was mostly pain, so [being healthy] is definitely going to help my skating. The one thing that was difficult was that you knew it was always there, and it was annoying. It was one of those things where you have to battle through it and then the next day you knew it was still going to be there. 

“It was hard that way and it was in my head a little bit. Once I got past that hurdle of realizing it was going to be there, and not worrying about it, I felt better. It’s not an excuse for the slow start I had and not scoring on some easy chances, but it was slowing me down a bit. It was definitely annoying. Once I passed the hurdle of knowing that my skating was going to be restricted, I felt better confidence-wise and whatnot. I stopped second-guessing everything that I was doing on the ice.”

It’s clearly good news that Bergeron enters the season with a clean bill of health and without a World Cup of Hockey interrupting his normal preparation for the season. That should help push him back upward toward the player that averaged 28 goals and 62 points over the previous three seasons while forming one of the NHL’s most dangerous tandems with Brad Marchand. That’s absolutely what No. 37 is aiming for as the best all-around player on Boston’s roster, and one of the heart-and-soul leaders of a B’s hockey club again pointed upward. 

“I’m still doing some rehab, but I’ll be ready for camp. There may be some restrictions there [in camp], but I feel good on the ice and good in the gym,” said Bergeron. “Hopefully I’m going to have a better start, and just get back to playing a better game two-ways. You always want to push your limits and be better. I guess that’s always my approach.”

It should also be expected that Bergeron – at 32 years old with 899 regular season games on his career resume – is going to begin dealing with more of the nagging injuries moving forward in his NHL career. Bergeron will play through it all, of course. 

That’s what he does and he proved just how extreme that renowned toughness can be when he played through a punctured lung during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Nobody is looking for a repeat of that ever again, but it will be nice for Bruins fans to see Bergeron back to full strength mentally and physically when the puck drops a month from now.  


Morning Skate: Dogs, cats, wasps and Tuukka


Morning Skate: Dogs, cats, wasps and Tuukka

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while somberly remembering the young victims of Sandy Hook five years ago today. It’s one of the worst days this country has ever seen, and not enough has been done by our lawmakers to prevent it from happening again.

*Relaxed, fun interview between Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Roenick where Tuukka talks about the special kind of wasp that was named after him.

*Alex DeBrincat continues to tear it up for the Chicago Blackhawks and reward the organization for them taking a risk on him in the 2016 draft.

*Frederik Andersen is headed toward one of the busiest seasons ever for an NHL goalie, but his body is prepared for the workload in Toronto.

*Chris Neil is calling it a career for the Ottawa Senators at the end of a rugged, blue-collar career where he was always a tough customer.

*The stone cold reaction to winning a brand new car was perfect for this Vancouver Canucks fan after an on-ice contest.

*Kudos to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski for this week’s power rankings with a Star Wars theme, which include the Bruins as Admiral Ackbar. Some of these are a stretch, but still very much in good fun and strong in the Force.

*For something completely different: "Deadpool "will remain an R-rated entity even under Disney ownership and control. Good news! Really interested to see what this merger will mean for the "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four "in the MCU.


Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand


Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night:

1) Brad Marchand is putting together a Hart Trophy resume for the second consecutive season. 
Clearly, the numbers are impressive with 12 goals, 25 points and a plus-12 rating in just 20 games. He’s on pace for 44 goals and 93 points in an era when you just don’t see that kind of production much anymore. Still, it’s the time and the place where Marchand exerts his dominance that makes him an MVP-type force. That’s exactly what happened in the come-from-behind win. The Bruins hadn’t played well for the first 40 minutes and it looked like they were going to lose after Dylan Larkin struck for a shorthanded goal in the third period. That’s when Marchand got to work snapping a slick, cross-ice pass through three Detroit defenders to set up David Pastrnak’s tying goal with the goalie pulled. Then Marchand scored on a backhanded breakaway less than a minute into OT to steal two points for the B's. Of course, there were others to credit: Pastrnak was able to put a great finish on the one-timer, David Backes attracted attention in front of the net to create the passing seam and Torey Krug freed up Marchand for the breakaway winner. But it was No. 63 again at the center of everything who practically willed the Black and Gold to victory. That’s the kind of thing that MVP-type players do throughout the season when it’s badly needed.

2) Bruins found a way to get two points in a game where really they didn't deserve it. 
The Bruins didn’t play well at all, didn’t react very adeptly to Detroit's trapping them and had a difficult time generating anything consistently in the offensive zone until the third period. Tuukka Rask kept them in the game and the Bruins finally began paying the price to get closer to the net in the third and overtime. Good teams find a way to win, and that’s what the Bruins did against a Red Wings team that’s not going anywhere this season. So, with their ninth victory in the past 11 tries, the Bruins are now firmly in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and have a four-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens with a whopping four games in hand against the Habs right now. If the Bruins can avoid monumentally stubbing their toe here, they are in a very good position to keep it in cruise control after the holidays for a postseason spot.

3)  I didn’t think people from Detroit were afraid of anything.
Apparently, I’ve given them way too much credit. Apparently, they’re afraid of a little snow. The downtown Detroit area got six inches of snow on Wednesday and that was enough to keep Red Wings fans away from the new Little Caesars Arena. When you’re from New England, six inches of snow is considered a dusting and isn’t something that would keep any self-respecting hardcore hockey fan away. But anybody who watched the "Wednesday Night Rivalry Game" on NBCSN got an eyeful of empty red seats in the lower bowl at LCA that made Detroit look like anything but HockeyTown. Skipping the game would be understandable if the Motor City was truly in the thrall of a nasty blizzard, but instead Wings fans looked like a player turtling in a hockey fight with the sad attendance. Weak sauce, in my opinion. Next time just shut down the entire city and cancel everything when an inch or two is in the forecast. 

*Marchand was the money player. He set up the tying goal in the third period with a slick cross-ice, threaded pass through three defenders, and then scoring the winner. In all, he had two points, a plus-1 and a couple of gigantic plays in his 22-plus minutes of ice time.

*Torey Krug finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in a whopping 23:39 of ice time. It was No. 47 who threaded the needle on a pass that freed up Marchand for the winner. Krug and Marchand were the only two multi-point performers for the Black and Gold.

*Noel Acciari didn’t pile up the hits and he only played 10:50 of ice time, but he made a huge play in the third period when he disrupted the Detroit breakout on a Wings face-off win in the D-zone. He was rewarded with a loose puck goal in front of the net right after causing the turnover. That shift from the fourth line really started shifting the game in Boston’s direction.

*The Bruins had two shots on net in the first period and had just one decent scoring chance in the first 40 minutes (a Pastrnak breakaway in the second period) while playing right into the hands of the trap-happy Wings. The Bruins deserved to lose this game based on the way they played early, but a few individuals ended up saving their bacon.

*One shot on net and a minus-3 rating for Henrik Zetterberg, who was mostly invisible aside from a PP assist to Tomas Tatar early in the game. Zetterberg was on the ice for every goal scored by the Bruins and was grossly negligent on at least one of them.

*The refs bungled a call on Patrice Bergeron that directly set up the Wings first goal. Bergeron was clearly tripped by Frans Nielsen in the second period and Nielsen then stumbled over Bergeron’s stick as No. 37 was trying to lift himself up off the ice after falling due to the original tripping infraction. Instead, the refs merely saw the end of the play, called Bergeron for a bogus tripping call and that turned into a PP score for Tomas Tatar that broke the game open. You’d really expect a player such as Bergeron to get the benefit of the doubt on plays like that, wouldn’t you?