Bruins

Bergeron serves a four-goal reminder that he's still pretty great

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Bergeron serves a four-goal reminder that he's still pretty great

BOSTON – In a 14-year career where Patrice Bergeron has won and accomplished just about everything, he managed to find a way to experience something new on Saturday night. 

Bergeron scored a career-high four goals in the Bruins 7-1 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden, and put together a game for the ages where tied a career-high with five points, finished with a plus-4 rating and won 13-of-18 face-offs. There was a shorthanded goal and a primary assist to David Pastrnak on the power play, and there were a couple of strikes in the slot where he does a great deal of his offensive damage these days. 

MORE - Bergeron's first career four-goal game keeps B's hot streak going

Clearly it won’t even be the fourth or fifth greatest thing that Bergeron has ever accomplished in a career built on winning at the highest levels, but notching a four-goal game is something that will end up on Bergeron’s Greatest Hits reel when it’s all said and done. 

"It’s pretty impressive. Seeing him have a game like this is definitely up there...but I think the Olympics, winning the Cup and him just being Patrice Bergeron might be above that,” said Brad Marchand, who assisted on all four of Bergeron’s scored. “We were hoping to get him to six, but it didn’t work out.”

It hasn’t just been a one-game explosion for Bergeron, however, despite his line combining for five goals, 12 points and a plus-11 rating in the blowout win over the Canes. Bergeron has been red-hot during Boston’s two-month surge and has 11 goals and 13 points in his last 11 games to move into a tie with both Marchand and Pastrnak for the team lead with 16 goals scored on the season. 

Clearly it’s about Bergeron hitting one of his high notes of the season right along with the rest of the team, but it’s also about a player getting rewarded for all the work that he puts in regularly on a daily basis. 

“They were fun to watch when they got puck possession and they ended up getting it to the net with numbers in the slot. High percentage shots. It’s just amazing to watch Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] get a shot off from there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “If you are at Warrior enough, you will see him working on it every morning skate – getting that quick release. Usually Jay [Pandolfo] is out there feeding him pucks, or Joe [Sacco]. 

“He had four; he might have been able to have six, too. He had some really quality looks. Someone has to get him the puck. Good for that line; told them in the room, they probably got tired of reading about [Sean] Kuraly and [Riley] Nash supplying all of the offense, so they said to heck with that.”

Bergeron also said to heck with the Bruins record books with one highly productive game as he matched the franchise record for goals scored in a single game last achieved by Dave Andreychuk during his brief stint with the Bruins back in 1999. He matched his own career-high achieved once before with his five points, and Bergeron also passed the 700-point mark in an NHL career that’s beginning to hit some big, round numbers. 

Just don’t expect the team-oriented Bergeron to dwell on the individual achievement aside from admitting that scoring four goals “was a little fun.” Instead it was about the entire team getting another two points in the standings, the varied offensive production that’s been at the heart of Boston’s recent dominant stretch and linemate David Pastrnak busting out of his 10-game goal-scoring drought. 

“I think it was one of those nights where puck was going in, but also I was finding that slot. It seemed like it was open and Brad [Marchand] kept finding me there. He was doing a good job of making those plays. It seemed like I had a lane so I tried to take it,” said Bergeron. “The team’s doing well too, so I don’t think [a slump] is anything anyone should be worried about it’s going to happen during the year. [David Pastrnak] kept putting in the work and helping the team, I’m sure he’s happy with it and it feels good for him. That being said, everyone’s contributing, so it’s been pretty fun to be a part of.”

It certainly feels a long way removed from Bergeron missing the first handful of games to start this season with a nagging injury. The bumps and bruises from the last couple of seasons serve as a reminder that Bergeron  isn't getting any younger at this point. But he's also not quite out of his hockey prime yet either with his hockey IQ and legendary work ethic working in his favor.  

The stalwart 32-year-old center hasn’t missed even a single shift since coming back into the lineup, and he’s been at his absolute best while putting up the kind of numbers that should be good enough to get him onto the Atlantic Division squad for the NHL All-Star game festivities later on this month. 

All of that pales in comparison to the team accomplishments on Bergeron’s lengthy, considerable hockey resume, and it looks like he might just add to that coveted list this season. Let’s just set that aside this time around, however, and simply enjoy one Saturday night where No. 37’s four-goal greatness was on display for everybody to easily appreciate. 

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Jarome Iginla practices with P-Bruins

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Mark Divver

Jarome Iginla practices with P-Bruins

Jarome Iginla skated with the Providence Bruins in the AHL team's practice on Tuesday, according to the Providence Journal.

Iginla doesn't want to retire yet. But he's not necessarily going to get a shot in Boston. The Bruins aren't interested in signing the 40-year-old winger, but instead wanted to do him a favor, a source told the Providence Journal.

"I'd love to still play," Iginla told the Providence Journal. "This is kind of the first step, getting out here and seeing how it is. … I wanted to see if I can still go. I don't have any deals at this point."

Iginla has had a prolific career with 525 goals and 570 assists (1,095 points). During his 2016-17 season, he spent time with the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings. He played in 80 games, and finished with 14 goals, 13 assists and a minus-30 rating.

Bruins' defense, goaltending enjoys mini-breakthrough against Flames

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bruins' defense, goaltending enjoys mini-breakthrough against Flames

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday afternoon.

1)      Once again the Bruins were challenged and provided the perfect response. After giving up 15 goals in their previous four games and getting blown out by Vancouver last weekend, the Bruins recognized their defensive game had slipped in all zones. Their defensive layers had disappeared up and down the ice, the fore-check had gone missing and the D-zone coverage was leaving big holes in the slot and in front of the net. The Bruins weren’t working particularly hard, they were making some pretty elementary mistakes and they were allowing opponents to gain way too much speed and momentum entering their zone. All of that changed against Calgary after a spirited practice on Sunday, and the Bruins allowed just four shots on net in the first period against the Flames. They went on to allow just a single goal in the game, and kept grinding until they took a 2-1 win in OT. Hand-in-hand with the B’s defense responding was the Bruins goaltending situation responding to the challenge as well. Tuukka Rask hadn’t been particularly good in recent losses to the Buffalo Sabres and Canucks over the last week, and he wasn’t getting the support in front of him either. That added up to a lot of goals allowed and getting yanked in the Canucks loss amid some poor rebound control. Rask was locked in from beginning to end on Monday afternoon, and made five show-stopping saves in OT prior to Brad Marchand’s breakaway game-winner. What’s impressive is that it took just one bad loss for the B’s to totally snap back into place. There are times when it can take three, four or even five games for a hockey club to shed their bad defensive habits, but the Bruins did it immediately and haven’t lost back-to-back games since November. That is simply amazing at this point, and a testament to the coaching staff and the players. 

2)      In addition to the Bruins defense and goaltending responding, it was impressive to see Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak respond with big goals as well. Neither player was very good in the blowout loss to Vancouver, and Pastrnak had been mired in a bit of a slump with just one goal in his last 11 games headed into Monday afternoon. Both players have been targeted and thumped pretty solidly by opponents just as they were down the stretch last season as well, and they hadn’t really responded in an effective way until Monday. Even into the playoffs last season, Pastrnak really struggled to respond to some of the elevated intensity and physicality that he saw. Pastrnak scored in the first period on a nifty play aided by a Patrice Bergeron active stick against the side boards, and he enjoyed a number of scoring chances against the Flames. Marchand had seven shot attempts that culminated with his breakaway in overtime for the game-winner, and he was also engaged and physical throughout while both he and Matthew Tkachuk tried to “out-punk” each other on the ice. With a Bruins team that’s going to need their top line to produce regularly for them as the games get tighter, Monday’s mini-breakthrough was an important sign that Marchand and Pastrnak are ready to fight through some of the resistance thrown their way.

3)       Monday’s win also saw the Bruins once again drop the gloves to defend one of their teammates. On Saturday night it was Brandon Carlo sticking up for David Pastrnak, and on Monday afternoon it was Adam McQuaid dropping Garnet Hathaway after he took a shot at Charlie McAvoy right in front of the Bruins bench while practically inviting No. 54 to get involved. The Bruins will need to continue to bring their immediate reaction to borderline hits and opponents taking runs at their players, and that starts with McQuaid and trickles down through the rest of the lineup. Team toughness, they call it.

Plus

*Brad Marchand finished up with the sweet, little backhanded five-hole goal on the breakaway in overtime, and played an excellent overall game with seven shot attempts and plenty of active, engaged play all over the ice in 20 plus minutes of action. 

*Tuukka Rask stopped 28-of-29 shots against Calgary and was solid throughout the game. But he was amazing in the overtime session when he was turning away Grade-A chances from Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett at one end while making five stops overall in the extra session. That little stand-on-his-head routine bought the B’s enough time for Marchand’s game-winner at the other end, and he certainly carried the Bruins to the extra OT point this time around. 

*Four shots on net and an eye-catching three blocked shots for David Pastrnak in 18:38 of ice time, including the game’s first goal in the first period when he curled to the net and beat Dave Rittich low with a shot. 

Minus

*Michael Frolik finished as a minus player for the Flames, and had the turnover to Patrice Bergeron in the first period that led directly to David Pastrnak’s goal. It was a pretty well-played game, so those little mistakes really stood out for either side. 

*Two giveaways and a minus-1 in 22:49 of ice time for Dougie Hamilton, who pretty much had a nothing game in a reminder to Bruins fans that they upgraded when they made Charlie McAvoy their No. 1 defenseman of the future. 

*No shots on net in 12:54 of ice time for Jake DeBrusk, who didn’t seem to have the same jump to his game on Monday that he did last weekend in Vancouver. He may have been saving it for Edmonton, where he grew up and certainly wants to put on a show on Tuesday night.