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.  


Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.