Bruins

Patrice Bergeron pronounces himself healthy after playing in Bruins' preseason finale

Patrice Bergeron pronounces himself healthy after playing in Bruins' preseason finale

BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron viewed suiting up for a preseason game as the final hump to get over before feeling healthy and ready to start the regular season.

The 34-year-old center was brought on deliberately during training camp while dealing with a lingering groin injury that required treatment over the summer, but it’s been a steady improvement upward since sitting out the first weekend of training camp. Bergeron amazingly didn’t factor into the scoring in Boston’s 8-2 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, but he did look like himself with three shot attempts and a plus-2 rating in 12:47 of ice time while winning 8-of-12 faceoffs against a glorified AHL lineup for Chicago.

Afterward Bergeron said it’s all systems go for him to start the season Thursday night in Dallas, and it certainly appears he’ll be centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the Perfection Line as usual.

“It felt good to get the first one underway,” said Bergeron. “It’s always good to get your legs underneath you, and to get your timing and rhythm back. It was what I was expecting and it was fine. I’m excited to get into the battle with the guys and going through the ups and downs of a regular season.”

It was certainly important to get No. 37 some game reps with his linemates and to get the top PP unit a few times over the boards against Chicago, and the Bruins got all of that and then some in the opening 20 minutes against the Blackhawks. A mere 20 minutes later the B’s top unit had a pair of power play goals and the Bruins had ostensibly already got enough work in to be ready for the season opener, and now it becomes about trying to keep Bergeron healthy for the year.

Bergeron has missed 35 games over the last two seasons to assorted bumps and bruises and was slowed down by the groin issue in the Stanley Cup Final. So much attention is going to be paid to managing Bergeron’s minutes and workload, keeping him healthy and making certain he’s at his best late in the year when it matters most.

“I think it’s just maintaining what I’ve been trying to do strengthening my core as much as possible,” said Bergeron, who finished with 32 goals and a career-high 79 points in 65 games last season. “Obviously there’s a lot of luck that goes into it as well. You try to compete and play hard every night and that’s all that I can really focus on.”

Certainly Bergeron is off to a good start with good health to start the regular season, and an aim to preserving that for an entire season for the first time in three years headed into his 16th NHL season.

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Bruins encouraged by losing effort in Washington: 'That's the kind of hockey we want to play'

Bruins encouraged by losing effort in Washington: 'That's the kind of hockey we want to play'

WASHINGTON  – It might have been the Bruins' fourth loss in a row and, for the first time all season, the B's have lost three consecutive regulation games, but there were glimmers of hope in the 3-2 defeat at hands of the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.

The Bruins marched out to a 1-0 lead after David Pastrnak’s first goal in five games and it would have been a two-goal lead early in the game if a silly offsides challenge that had nothing to do with the actual goal hadn’t overturned Patrice Bergeron’s power-play strike.

So, the Bruins had a better start than they have had recently, had a solid three periods of play while outshooting the Capitals 32-25 and played with more engagement, effort and urgency than they have shown in a couple of weeks. It was certainly encouraging that the Bruins are turning the corner back toward consistently good efforts rather than some of the forgettable, unfocused efforts of the past couple of weeks. Still, it was again a loss. 

“We’re all frustrated, but as a coach, you like how the 60 minutes transpired better than some of the other nights. We were in the game, right there and very easily could have won the game,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Two or three things probably changed that, but in terms of a 60-minute effort we’re getting a lot closer to where we want to be.”

The good news is that the Bruins leadership group sees light at the end of the tunnel with another big game against the Tampa Bay Lightning awaiting them 24 hours later. 

“I thought that’s the kind of hockey that [we] want to play and you want to get back to,” said Bergeron of a Bruins team that’s taken just one out of a possible eight points in their last four games. “There are still some things to rectify with us coming up short, but we’re trending in the right direction. But it’s a short turnaround with the game [against Tampa Bay].”

The Bruins are still sitting on a 10-point lead in the division over Buffalo and Montreal despite having dropped four in a row, so there’s clearly no panic or feeling like their backs are against the wall. On the contrary, that might be part of the lack of urgency that’s crept into the B’s game the past couple of weeks, but they showed Wednesday night that they still have a solid, consistent effort in them when the mood strikes them.

Perhaps the good, honest and hard-working losing effort against the Capitals can spin the Bruins back into a winning direction with a couple of road games in Florida staring them in the face.

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Bruins-Capitals Talking Points: Too much Oshie, not enough DeBrusk

Bruins-Capitals Talking Points: Too much Oshie, not enough DeBrusk

WASHINGTON - GOLD STAR: All T.J. Oshie did was score a couple of goals that powered the Capitals for all of their offense in the second period while setting Washington up to win the third. The first score was a power-play goal right in front of the net that tied things up and the second was a nifty individual move where he split defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Connor Clifton before dangling around Clifton and roofing a backhander for a beautiful goal. Oshie finished with two shots on net and four shot attempts overall in 20:31 of ice time to go along with a blocked shot. Still, it was all about the offense provided when the Capitals needed it as a bit of a one-man goal-scoring show on a night when Alex Ovechkin was pretty much held in check.

BLACK EYE: Jake DeBrusk at least had a positive play when he fed Patrice Bergeron for a first-period, power-play goal that would have given the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Instead, the goal was wiped off the board by an offsides challenge and DeBrusk was a negative player for the Black and Gold for the rest of the night. DeBrusk finished with no points, no shots on net and had three giveaways in 20:50 while finishing with a minus-1 rating. He certainly wasn’t alone with not bringing enough to the table for the B’s, but it was him fading into the background in a physical, gritty game against a quality opponent that conjured up memories of his issues in the playoffs last season.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins tied the score by grinding for a third-period goal from their fourth line, but then they gave up a go-ahead goal less than two minutes later. Then the B’s proceeded to get outshot 11-9 in the third period despite never leading at any point in the final 20 minutes and never really mounting enough pressure to potentially tie it to pus things to the extra session. It’s a massive letdown for the B’s to claw all the way back and then watch as it goes up in smoke in just a couple of minutes, but it was about Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson – two of Washington’s best players – stepping up and making the play when it needed to be made.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak snapped his longest goal-scoring drought of the season at four games as he scored the first goal for the Bruins on a sizzling wrist shot. It was a nice transition play from Charlie McAvoy bombing down the left side before moving cross-ice to Pastrnak at the bottom of the face-off circle. Pastrnak snapped it off the crossbar and into the back of the net for his NHL-leading 26th goal and got Boston off to a good start for the first time in a while. Pastrnak finished with the goal, seven shot attempts, a hit and three takeaways in 21:16 while playing a strong, solid, Pastrnak-like game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of consecutive losses for the Bruins. They have lost four in a row one other time this season, but it’s the first time they’ve lost three regulation games in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just told him I'm happy for him and congrats. He looks like he's got a six-pack now, so I'm just happy for him. It was great to see him. It's been a while." –Brad Marchand, on what he said to former teammate Tim Thomas when he was on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop as a new inductee for the US Hockey Hall of Fame.

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