From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Patrice Bergeron.
The 33-year-old Bergeron had a great season on many levels, but also a sobering season in that he again missed time with injuries and showed that he is indeed mortal and subject to the power of Father Time. Despite missing 18 games with injuries, Bergeron put together some Hart Trophy-level numbers that would have been even more impressive had he played, say, 80 games. All that being said, Bergeron at 33 years old is still a franchise player for Boston, one of the best in the game and the best two-way forward working in the NHL today. That should continue for at least a couple more years before real, noticeable decline begins to chip away at his game.
What Happened Last Year: The 33-year-old Bergeron battled groin issues early and a fractured foot late in the season, and missed 18 games with his assorted injuries throughout the regular season. In between Bergeron was brilliant as he clearly rededicated himself to scoring from the slot area, and rifled home 30 goals and 63 points in just 68 games. Bergeron and Brad Marchand teamed with David Pastrnak to form the best forward line in the entire NHL, and Bergeron still managed to be the league’s premier defensive forward along with a special teams beast both on the power play and penalty kill. Bergeron then ripped up the postseason with six goals and 16 points in 11 games as that line dominated the Toronto series before things dried up a bit against Tampa. All in all, it was another stellar season for Bergeron, who missed out on his record fifth Selke Trophy largely because of the games missed due to injury.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: The 33-year-old Bergeron simply needs to stay on the ice and maintain his current level of play, and that will go a long way toward answering the questions for this season anyway. It’s going to be tough for Bergeron as he underwent summer groin surgery that put a big pause in a lot of his offseason workouts and has him ramping things up slowly in training camp while hoping to be ready for the Oct. 3 season opener. So Bergeron is working to come back from injury while hoping to remain largely healthy this season and avoid some of those injuries – both of the freak and repetitive usage variety – that caused him to miss time last season. That in itself is the question: Is Bergeron simply beginning to age after playing in the league since he was 18 years old and approaching 1,000 games played this coming season, or can he stave off the aging process for at least a few more years without injuries and age slowing him down? He’ll get an 82-game season to answer those questions this season.
In Their Words: “A lot of the guys are young and learning and they’re going to keep getting better, and obviously there are a lot of young guys that are down in Providence that are kind of pushing for a spot as well. It’s looking good, but that being said, you know, you start over at square one next year. You have to put in the work again. You have to start over for 82 games to make it into the playoffs, so you know, you have to realize it’s not going to be easy, and people are going to be ready for us. So it’s a step, hopefully, in the right direction, but you know, there’s a lot of work that hasn’t been done.” –Patrice Bergeron, on the brightness of the future for the Bruins for this season and beyond.
Overall Outlook: Bergeron is the No. 1 center on the Boston Bruins, the best two-way center in the NHL and a player that’s certainly in the top-10 players in the entire NHL after a brilliant 15 years in the league. He’s coming off a season where he might have won either the Hart or the Selke had he been able to avoid injuries, and should continue to center Boston’s top line for the foreseeable future. The big thing for No. 37 is managing his workload during the regular season to get the best out of him, and then avoiding the injuries that have begun to nag at him over the last couple of years. Bergeron has logged a lot of hard miles over the years, and the B’s have to do whatever they can to preserve his best years for as long as possible.