Patrice Bergeron serves one of his annual reminders of his greatness

Patrice Bergeron serves one of his annual reminders of his greatness

BOSTON – Every once in a while Patrice Bergeron decides to remind everyone why he’s one of the best hockey players in the world.

The 33-year-old Bergeron did that again in Monday afternoon’s 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in the B’s home opener at TD Garden with the fourth hat trick of his 15-year NHL career. That he did it in just his third game back after missing the entire preseason with back spasms only adds to Bergeron’s degree of difficulty and serves as a reminder that we’re watching something pretty special every time the Black and Gold take the ice.

Sure, Bergeron isn’t an 18-year-old kid anymore and missing nearly all of training camp was at least in part to avoid some of the nagging injuries that have caused him to miss time early in each of the previous two seasons. But even at 33 years old Bergeron is the best player on the Bruins roster and is still the best two-way center in the NHL capable of shutting down the other team’s best players, dominating in the face-off circle and occasionally dropping the old three-goal barrage against an unsuspecting team like the Senators.

“I’m impressed with everything Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] does to be honest with you. He plays at both ends. We use him in every situation, so good for him to get us going on time tonight,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Bergeron. “Usually we rely on him to give us a good start, may take away from, if we’re looking at certain matchups. But we like to start them simply because they generally get the puck and get going on the other end, put them on their heels.”

Bergeron showed a little bit of everything in the four-point game against Ottawa. On the first shift of the game Bergeron and Co. kept Ottawa hemmed into their zone, and then Bergeron pounced on a loose puck at the goal line after David Pastrnak took it hard to the net. Later in the period, Bergeron showed his deadly shooting skill by sniping a top corner bid from the right face-off circle after Brad Marchand had deftly slid a drop pass back to him.

Then in the third period, Bergeron made perhaps the most elite play of the day when he snapped a backhanded saucer pass across the ice to Pastrnak crashing the far post, and Pastrnak was able to sweep the landing back into the back of the net. It was super high-skill at both ends of the play and clearly illustrated why the Perfection Line continues to be the best forward trio going in the entire National Hockey League.

“It’s phenomenal. You see why guys are so connected with him and why he’s such a great player in this league. He’s not out there just cherry-picking and finding the easy ones. He works for every inch that he gets and he’s doing all the ugly stuff, along with scoring the goals,” said David Backes. “You can’t be happier for a guy that is able to play a 200-ft game. He’s responsible defensively, he goes out for all the hard shifts in the D-zone, the penalty kill, and then gets his reward on the power play.

“The hat-trick is great, but that backhand pass saucer, that lands on Pasta’s stick on the backdoor, I don’t get it. We might have to have a talk tonight and he can explain that to me. Maybe I’ll implement it next game.”

As Backes referenced, it wasn’t just the offense production telling the whole story for Bergeron either. Bergeron and Co. shut down the Ottawa players they were matched up with, Bergeron won 14-of-24 faceoffs over the course of the game and it was No. 37 that set the tone by scoring on the game’s very first shift. After a weekend off and an afternoon matinee on a Monday, the Bruins could have very well snoozed through the opening moments of the home opener against a pitiful Ottawa group.

Instead, Bergeron showed leadership by injecting his energy into the game and setting a lead for the rest of the Bruins to follow. That’s something that truly great players do when they’re at the top of their games, and Bergeron is still there even as he approaches the notable 1,000 NHL games played mark in the middle of the season.

The one thing that you won’t get from Bergeron, though: Don’t bother trying to get him to do any talking about himself and his accomplishments.

“Yeah [the hat trick] is [nice]. It’s one of those things that is kind of not necessarily always part of my game or something you see often,” said Bergeron. “They’re definitely nice to have, but like I said, one was a lucky bounce and great plays on the first two by Pasta [David Pastrnak] and Marchy [Brad Marchand].”

It’s pure, unselfish Bergeron to credit lucky bounces and his teammates for him scoring three goals and providing the Bruins with their first iconic moment of the 2018-19 season. But those watching him for the last 15 years know that they’ve been watching something special in No. 37, and no amount of modesty is going to tone that down.   


Bruins' Jake DeBrusk hopes to bust out in Stanley Cup Final: 'I have a lot more to give'

Bruins' Jake DeBrusk hopes to bust out in Stanley Cup Final: 'I have a lot more to give'

BOSTON – Jake DeBrusk had more goals (six) and points (eight) in the Bruins' two-round playoff run last spring than he’s had his this postseason (three goals and seven points) as the B's enter the Stanley Cup Final.

DeBrusk was a force last year in the first round when he scored five goals against the Maple Leafs, but it’s been a tougher slog for the skilled left winger while chipping in here or there for the Black and Gold. So, it’s no surprise that DeBrusk says he feels like he might be a little due in the Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues. One of his patented hot streaks would be a welcome development for the Black and Gold.

The lack of a hot points stretch this postseason has been tough for DeBrusk to swallow.

“Everyone is hard on themselves and has expectations, but [the points] are not the main point for me," DeBrusk said. "The win is the biggest thing. If you don’t do what you want to do but the team wins then that’s all that matters this time of year. So that does help. But when you lose and you lose a tight game, it doesn’t necessarily creep in there…but you put more pressure on yourself or to be that guy, or be the difference. It just hasn’t happened for me personally.

“Usually for teams that I’ve been on the past I’ve had to be that guy, so it’s a little bit of a different feeling with things not going into the net as much. Goals help with my confidence, but my overall game play itself I haven’t liked at all. So, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it. It won’t be easy, but it’s a matter of doing it for the team.”

It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that it could happen based on DeBrusk’s mix of speed, power and skill going up against a St. Louis defensemen corps that’s long on size and strength while at times short on skating speed. That will be part of DeBrusk’s plan to get some separation on the Blues D-men and get pucks to the net in the kind of old-fashioned net-drive game he features when he’s at his best.

“I feel like I have a lot more to give with these playoffs. Personally, it hasn’t been what I wanted from a production standpoint, but we’re in the Stanley Cup Final. So, there are obviously bigger things at hand,” said DeBrusk, who is at least getting his shots on net with 50 shots in these playoffs. “But I’d like to find different ways to help this team and there’s no time better than now. The way that I’m going to have to play to have success is my bread and butter in a sense. It’s not going to be easy.

“It’s going to be tough. But getting into those hard areas is going to be my focus, especially against those big defensemen. That’s what I excel at. You’re going to take some bumps and bruises along the way, but I think that’s also where I can use my speed. I think that’s a big aspect I need to bring into the series.”

It could go one of two ways for DeBrusk in the Final against the Blues.  

DeBrusk could continue to futilely chase after consistency and be frustrated as he’s been at times through the first three rounds. Or this could be the series where DeBrusk’s work on the second line and his net-front presence on the power play turn into consistent offense and help get him and his team exactly where they want to go.  

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Charlie Coyle opens up about trade from Wild to Bruins

Charlie Coyle opens up about trade from Wild to Bruins

Before the 2019 NHL trade deadline, Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle went through a trying experience. Then a member of the Minnesota Wild, Coyle was told that he had been traded. However, he couldn't yet know where he was going.

“I had a missed call and a text from [general manager] Paul [Fenton] and so I just knew, obviously,” Coyle said, per Michael Russo of The Athletic. “I called him and he told me I was involved in a trade, so don’t go on the plane. But he couldn’t tell me where I was going yet because it’s not finalized. He felt really bad about it.

“It was so weird because suddenly I’m at a place where I’m not on an NHL team for however many hours. I don’t know where I am. I can’t say goodbye to my teammates. It’s so hard to tell my family, my girlfriend, my friends, ‘I’m traded, we’re going somewhere … but I don’t know where yet.’”

Fenton did say to Coyle “I think in the end you’ll be OK” with the destination. And that certainly was the case.

Coyle was sent to the Bruins in exchange for Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick. Coyle had grown up in Weymouth, Mass., and was being given a chance to play for his hometown team. And since joining the squad, he has provided a massive upgrade for a problem spot in their lineup.

Coyle has solidified the Bruins' weak third line and has proven to be a revelation for the team, especially during their Cup run. So far in the postseason, Coyle has been excellent, logging 12 points (six goals, six assists) and a plus-9 rating through 17 playoff games. That rating is tied for third-best on the team.

Most importantly, Coyle has proven to be clutch and scored a key, game-winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of their series. In overtime, Coyle took a pass from Marcus Johansson and placed it perfectly into the back of the net from close range on Sergei Bobrovsky. It was a beautiful play and one that fulfilled a life-long dream for Coyle.

“I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’d put the net in front of my driveway and either play with the neighborhood kids or myself and score the big playoff-winning goal for the Bruins,” Coyle said via Russo. “And then to actually do it in reality … with my family in the crowd, oh my God.”

Coyle will certainly have a chance to perform well and etch himself into Boston sports folklore during the Stanley Cup Final. But certainly, the Bruins have to be glad about the return they got on the trade for Coyle. While some thought that giving up Donato and a draft pick was a steep price, Coyle has proven to be a key cog for the team.

Coyle will once again suit up in front of the TD Garden crowd on Monday at 8 p.m. ET when the Bruins take on the St. Louis Blues. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final can be seen on NBC or streamed on the NBC Sports App.

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