It's time for Bergeron to get some love for the Hart Trophy

It's time for Bergeron to get some love for the Hart Trophy

BRIGHTON, Mass – Ask modest, team-oriented Patrice Bergeron about any potential consideration for the Hart Trophy at year’s end, and you’ll get a player that’s understandably uncomfortable at talking himself up.

“I don’t have any thoughts on it, to be honest with you,” said a fairly sheepish Bergeron. “I’m not really thinking about it. There are 30 games left. I’ll leave that up to you guys to discuss. To me it’s not really something…it’s a team game, and that’s how I want it to be.”

But the good thing for the 32-year-old Bruins superstar is that he’s got a whole host of teammates, coaches and bosses in upper management that are more than willing to sing endless praises about Bergeron, and why he’s so valuable to the Black and Gold. 

“I would love it. It would be awesome for him. He is a terrific person,” said Cassidy. “The Selke [Trophy] is basically his to lose every single year with no disrespect to [Anze] Kopitar and [Jonathan] Toews, they’re both great players. But Bergeron has put his stamp on that trophy, and it would be nice to do that with the Hart. 

“It tends to go for more scoring players, so that will be a hurdle that he’ll have to get over. But hopefully he’ll have won over enough people around the league in terms of being up there with the point totals. It’s tough because there are great candidates every year. I don’t think there’s ever a bad choice to win the Hart, but it’s great that he’s in that conversation. It’s great that [Brad] Marchand was in it last season.”

And why not for all of the things that go into the Bruins center being one of the ultimate winning players in the entire NHL, and for this season where Bergeron has exploded with 13 goals in 15 games since the beginning of January. 

Bergeron is on pace for a career-high 40 goals and 75 points this season, and that goes along with his customary high-effort, two-way play and his continued mastery in the face-off circle. Essentially No. 37 has taken this humble hockey writer’s early season notion that he might be starting to show some signs of decline, and shoved right back in my proverbial pie-hole.

Whether going by conventional stats where Bergeron ranks third in the NHL with a plus-26 and just outside the top-10 with his 24 goals or going by fancy stats where No. 37 really jumps off the page with his puck possession dominance, the offense and defense has been in perfect balance for the perfect player this season.  

So it really should be that Bergeron finally gets serious Hart Trophy consideration in a season that might turn out to be his best on a Bruins team that might just wind up with the President’s Trophy at the end of the season. 

“He gets rewarded and acknowledged for the Selke Trophy every year and rightfully so. He’s by far the best two-way player in the league. But I think a lot of things with him go unnoticed. He could easily get 100 points a year if he just wanted to cheat and be an offensive player,” said left winger Brad Marchand, who has been Bergeron’s running mate for the last seven seasons. “He’s still up around a point-per-game, and he’s definitely up there in the league if you’re looking around for an MVP. He deserves to be recognized, and I think it goes unnoticed a bit just how important he is to this team…and what he brings to the table each and every game. 

“A lot of guys realize it when they have to play against him, and consistently play against him game after game. It’s very tough to do with how hard he plays, the plays he can make and how he plays defensively. It is time that he gets recognized as one of the best players in the league and as an MVP…because he is [one].”

It will probably take Bergeron continuing to remain pretty hot offensively down the stretch and sticking right around the 0.91 points per game clip that he’s at right now to remain in the conversation. That shouldn’t be much of a problem considering he’s centering the best 200-foot forward line in the entire NHL with a couple of electric offensive talents on either side of him. 

The bottom line is this: This should be the season that a player like Bergeron is recognized for who and what he is, one of the NHL’s best players at both ends of the ice. The Bruins center should have been invited to NHL All-Star weekend last month in Tampa Bay, and now Bergeron should absolutely be in the mix for the Hart Trophy given his massive role in powering all facets for the NHL’s best regular season team.   

There’s no reason No. 37 shouldn’t be the first dual Hart Trophy and  Selke Trophy winner since the great Sergei Federov back in 1994.

While the B’s alternate captain is too focused on teams goals to say it, this humble hockey writer certainly will: It’s time that Bergeron gets his just due in the Hart Trophy voting this season when we’re evaluating just how valuable individual players are to their respective clubs.


What we learned in the Bruins comeback win over the Dallas Stars

AP Photo

What we learned in the Bruins comeback win over the Dallas Stars

Here’s What We Learned in Friday night’s 3-2 comeback win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

1)      Brad Marchand continues to not get much consideration at all from the referees on the ice. Marchand was against the boards facing the glass in the third period when Jamie Benn jumped up off his skates, slammed Marchand in the head on his way down like Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka off the top turnbuckle and didn’t even get a minor penalty for a clear charging play. That seemed to completely energize Marchand late in the third period and paved the way for his brilliant pass down low to David Pastrnak with 11.1 seconds remaining for the spinning, game-winning goal.  Credit No. 63 for responding in the right way to a clear cheap shot from Benn rather than losing his cool or something he’d regret on the ice, but Marchand continues to not be treated like a star player on the ice. The NHL should be looking for reasons to protect a main attraction like Marchand rather than letting every player take shots at him, or wrap him up in overtime to the point where he can’t make one of his exciting, game-winning plays as happened in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week. It’s one thing to hold Marchand accountable for the stuff that’s borderline, or way over the line, and could suspension-worthy. That’s something the NHL should continue to do when he sticks his nose over the line. But Marchand has earned treatment as one of the NHL elite players after scoring more goals than anybody else not named Alex Ovechkin over the last three seasons, and the officials on the ice should be treating him accordingly. Allowing a bigger player like Benn to leave his skates and give Marchand a head slam in the third period of a late season game certainly isn’t providing the B’s left winger with fair treatment on the ice, never mind treating him as one of the league’s best assets. It’s time the referees started making calls with Marchand as one of the league’s top players in mind rather than Marchand, one of the league’s big pests that isn’t really even relevant most of the time anymore.

2)      Clearly Tuukka Rask is Boston’s No. 1 goaltender right now and will be the guy once the postseason gets going in a couple of weeks. But Rask hadn’t been great lately as attested by his so-so .900 save percentage in the month of March, and certainly wasn’t finishing things up in strong fashion for a B’s group that’s admittedly been beset by injuries lately. So it was very important for Rask to have a big performance between the pipes that could get him back on track, and that’s exactly what happened on Friday night in Dallas against the Stars. Rask made a season-high 40 saves against the Stars and was brilliant early in the game when Dallas was throwing everything at him besides the kitchen sink. Rask stopped most of it while allowing just a screened goal and a shorthanded breakaway score for Jamie Benn in the second period, and stopping 40 of the 42 shots he faced through 60 minutes. Within those 40 saves Rask snagged a Tyler Seguin smoked one-timer from the point that he flashed with his glove hand, and later stuffed an Antoine Roussel scoring attempt on a drive to the front of the net. If Rask had allowed just one more goal it might have been impossible for the Bruins to come back from the deficit in the third period, but instead Rask held strong under attack and played his best game in perhaps a couple of months. With only 10 games to go in the regular season, it was the perfect time for Rask to start getting his game back in order as the Bruins begin making preparations for a postseason that sits just a few weeks away. It’s up to Rask to continue trending upward and remain at the highest point of his game going into the playoffs, but perhaps Friday night showed that it’s going to be possible.

3)      The Bruins are never out of it. They’re never dead. You can never count them out. It’s official and they are also officially a powerhouse in the third period when the game is on the line. Once again the B’s reeled off three goals in the third period to key the comeback, and Brad Marchand factored heavily into all three of those scores that allowed the Bruins to come from behind. This will be a skill that could really allow them some gut-punch moments in the postseason where a comeback or two in a series could completely change the momentum of the proceedings. It’s such a great skill to have.


*Brad Marchand factored in all three third period goals scoring on the first when a David Pastrnak shot bounced off his leg, assisting on the second when he broke out with a shorthanded odd-man rush and making a brilliant pass to David Pastrnak for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Marchand finished with a goal, three points and a plus-2 in 19:57 of ice time and had eight shot attempts in an energetic performance.

*David Pastrnak was nearly just as dominant as Marchand in the final 20 minutes with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and that brilliant curling play in the final seconds as he reached past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Pastrnak had a decent four shots on net in his nearly 18 minutes of ice time, and both Pastrnak and Marchand are stepping up when defenses are thoroughly keying on them down the stretch.

*Tuukka Rask pitched in a season-high 40 saves and made big stops in the second and third periods to keep the Bruins within a couple of goals, and allowing the Black and Gold to engineer that third period comeback that’s become one of their trademarks.


*Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal, but finished a minus-2 rating while going a puny 1-for-7 in the face-off circle to go right along with the cheap shot charging hit he threw at Brad Marchand in the third period as well. Benn wasn’t invisible but he made some pretty bad plays before being on the ice for the Boston game-winner in the closing seconds of the third period.

*Brian Gionta finished with a minus-2 and not shots on net in 13:01 of ice time, and the new look line with Jordan Szwarz and Tommy Wingels didn’t do much at all to distinguish themselves while being on the ice for a couple of goals against.

*No shots on net, a couple of giveaways and a minor penalty in 23:36 of ice time for John Klingberg, who didn’t do nearly enough for the Dallas Stars in a game that was a bit of a must-win for the Stars if they hope to end up on the right side of the playoff equation.


Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

File photo

Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while some inspiring kids march their lives in every city across the country.

*Here’s the podcast version of this week’s 98.5 the Sports Hub hockey show where FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston and yours truly talked about the ref’s treatment of Marchand, the comeback win over Dallas, Ryan Donato and what the Bruins lineup might look like in the playoffs.

*Ottawa Senators coach and aspiring Bond villain Guy Boucher knows that his job performance is going to be evaluated at season’s end just like that of his underperforming players.

*The Bruins playoff marketing ad chastising Mike Felger for his early season hot take is drawing plenty of attention and praise, including from Forbes Magazine.

*Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes story about how "Hockey Night in Canada" comes together on a weekly basis to be the very heartbeat of NHL coverage in Canada.

*Sean Monahan’s season is over with the Calgary Flames as they plummet out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

*For something completely different: The March For Our Lives is not only inspiring to somebody like me, but a sign that things are changing in our country. There is a sea change coming and it’s long past time for it to happen.