BOSTON -- It’s been an unsolved mystery through the entire course of the Bruins season thus far and one of the major reasons behind an offensive struggle that few, if any, observers saw coming this year. Patrice Bergeron went through another game on Saturday night with zero offensive production and by some connection the Bruins fell by a 4-1 score to the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Bergeron has just four goals and eight points in 26 games this season, and is on pace for just 12 goals and 24 points totals that would pale in comparison to his recent level of offensive production. The Bruins heart and soul leader isn’t the only player struggling offensively to be sure, but he’s the most high profile case for a Black and Gold group clinging to the faith it’s all going to come back in a sudden whoosh of offense.
That’s getting more and more difficult for a group ranked 26th in overall offense and 27th on the PP this season, and simply needs their high profile guys to start living up to expectations.
“When you look at the players that [aren’t scoring goals], Bergy I think he has four or five goals, he had 30-something last year. Marchand had 37 goals,” said Claude Julien. “Things are going to come around. We just need them to start scoring soon here so that we can get rid of that frustration of playing hard and for the most part not giving the other team much.
“At the same time everything is dissected because we’re not scoring goals. We’re looking at this guy made a mistake on this goal against or that goalie didn’t stop the puck. It’s not even an issue if we score some goals, that’s part of the game.”
Well, one of the biggest things being dissected at this point is the players that aren’t cutting it offensively for the Bruins, and No. 37 is unfortunately at the top of that list.
The loss to Toronto was a fairly typical one for Bergeron this season: he had three shots on net, a scoring chance or two and he managed to still win his faceoff battles and at least play hustling defense in 18:23 of ice time even if he ended up with a minus-2 for the evening.
But Bergeron didn’t break through for any points even as linemate Brad Marchand broke through for the B’s only goal, and continues to look like some of his skating burst just isn’t there this season for whatever reason. The split-second Bergeron needs to free himself for scoring chances just hasn’t been there, and instead it seems like there are defenders draped all over him, with zero separation, whenever he gets the puck in the scoring areas.
That seems to be the case most of the time in his “bumper” role on the Bruins power play where he’s generated just two points this season after leading the Black and Gold with 12 PP goals and 25 PP points last season.
Bergeron has maintained he’s healthy, but his early season struggles with a lower body injury combined with his numbers and the eyeball test would seem to tell another story.
Either way Bergeron is simply trying to find a way at this point because he knows part of his job with the Bruins is to provide offense at the level of 25-30 goals and 60-70 points, and that part of his job hasn’t been done this season.
“It definitely is [frustrating]. You want to…I’ve always said all that matters ultimately is to win and to help the team. Obviously offense is part of my game, so yeah, you want to find it and it’s up to me to do it,” said Bergeron, who has four points in his last 18 games for the Black and Gold. “There are lots of shots that I wouldn’t change a thing on those shots. I’ve got to keep taking them and they’re going to go in.”
The scary part is thinking what will happen to the Black and Gold if for whatever reason it doesn’t fully happen for Bergeron offensively this season, or it turns out to be one of those years. So much of what the B’s do offensively is tied into Bergeron as their best player at both ends of the ice, and he simply hasn’t been that guy with four goals, eight points and a zero plus/minus rating with 1/3 of the regular season in the books.
The numbers indicate that Bergeron should break through. He still leads the Bruins with 87 shots on net, and is scoring on just 4.6 percent of his shots this year with the four goals. He’s posted a 10.1 shooting percentage throughout his career, and is currently pacing for the lowest shooting percentage of his career. Some of is certainly chalked up to bad luck or great saves, but it also may be that Bergeron isn’t getting to the front of the net for enough easy chances that can bump up the shooting percentages as well.
The volume of shots and the quality of player should eventually lead to a breakthrough, and that’s something his teammates are still counting on from Bergeron at this point.
“It’s going to come. He’s going to break out and go on a tear. He does every year. But there’s so much more to his game than just scoring,” said Marchand. “He’s such a dominant player all over the ice. Whether it’s going in for him or not, [Bergeron] is still so valuable to our team and he will continue to be.”
The Bruins cling to the belief that it’s going to turn around for Bergeron, the B’s power play and their offense in general, but at this point they’d much rather see it in real time on the scoreboard when it matters rather than in theories coming from the postgame dressing room.