Talking Points: Happiest of returns for Bergeron

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Talking Points: Happiest of returns for Bergeron

GOLD STAR: After missing 16 games and the past month-plus, it was Patrice Bergeron’s turn to shine as he scored a pair of goals and added up four points in Boston’s win over Nashville. The first goal was pure Bergeron on the power play as he pulled a double move in the slot and completely faked out Pekka Rinne. The second was a shoveled rebound while crashing the net for a loose puck. Bergeron played a little less than usual with only 16-plus minutes of ice time, but he was still playing in every situation and out there for all the big face-offs - taking 25 of them. Getting your best player back is a big difference-maker for every team, and Bergeron proved it once again he's the B's best while showing virtually no rust out there.  

BLACK EYE: Ryan Johansen did score a goal for the Predators, but otherwise he was completely held down by the Bruins defense. It was to the point where Nashville was trying to get him on the ice when Bergeron’s line wasn’t out there, and it showed with a minus-2, just the one shot on net that accounted for the goal and only 7-for-16 performance in the face-off circle. As much as anything else, the proof of Bergeron’s impact is being able to shut down the other team’s elite players and eliminate the strength of an opponent. When Bergeron was out, the Sabres' Jack Eichel dominated the Bruins and ended up winning the game for Buffalo. When Bergeron was back in, he was able to turn Ryan Johansen into a ghost on the ice.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a 5-on-3 to start the third period thanks to a dumb play by Mattias Ekholm where he slammed David Pastrnak right in the chops as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period. The Bruins already were on the power play, so they had 1:05 of two-man advantage to start the third with the score tied at 1. They didn’t score in the 5-on-3, but did eventually score on the plain old power play to take a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the final frame. That allowed them to pull away from a Predators team that had hung in there for 40 minutes. Nashville tied it once more, but then the Bruins scored three unanswered goals.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zac Rinaldo somehow manages to stay in the NHL without any discernible skill and played 7:41 of ice time for the Predators. He also managed to not cheap shot anybody or take any bad penalties in his brief stay on the ice in addition to being a complete non-factor. The fact that the Bruins actually gave up a third-round pick for that guy still astounds me. Certainly, you’re willing assets and draft picks for a tough guy who can intimidate, be a good teammate and defend your team’s best players. But Rinaldo was never that kind of animal and now basically plays a fourth-line role while bringing very little to the table.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of assists for Jaroslav Halak this season after he picked one up on Sean Kuraly’s empty-netter late in the third.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The ref came back to the bench with the puck and I said 'No, I don't think that one is for me.' That's how much I know my own stats, I guess." –Patrice Bergeron, on scoring his 300th goal and being presented the puck. 

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Brad Marchand laments not 'being the guy that's a difference-maker' in Game 7

Brad Marchand laments not 'being the guy that's a difference-maker' in Game 7

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s no secret to say that the Bruins best players were simply not that when it came to winning and losing time in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Not only was the Perfection Line, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, held off the scoreboard in the 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the decisive game of the Cup Final, but a key mistake by Marchand led to the backbreaking goal. Marchand opted to head to the ice for a line change with 10 seconds left on the clock in the second period, and in doing so allowed the Blues an odd-man rush where Jaden Schwartz fed Alex Pietrangelo for the game-winning goal.

“The more you think about it, I think it just gets harder,” said Marchand. “You start to pick apart everything that you’d like to change. You start thinking about the ‘What ifs.’ It just makes it tough. This is going to hurt forever. You’re never going to get over it.

“There are a few things there [on the play]. A little more awareness to know there was only seven seconds left. I just would have been more aware of the guys coming up the ice because I thought [Jaden Schwartz] was all by himself. I thought the play was dead, but it obviously wasn’t. It was a bad read and I could have read the situation a little differently. That was the difference. One play can really change the outcome of a game. Unfortunately it was costly.”

So not only did the B’s top line not create any productive offense, but a glaring mistake proved to be the breaking point for the Black and Gold.

A couple of days later Marchand lamented the mistakes made in Game 7, and the inability to bring the same game to the postseason that allowed him to be a 100-point scorer during the regular season. Unfortunately for Marchand his Cup Final performance was about turnovers, bad decisions at both ends of the ice and an unwillingness at times to shoot the puck, and that’s not who No. 63 was for pretty much all of the regular season.  

“It’s definitely something you think about. Part of why we’re such a good group is that we all expect to be good in the big moments and we all expect to come through,” said Marchand, who had just a single 5-on-5 assist in the seven game series versus the Blues with two goals and five points overall to go along with a minus-2 rating. “I think personally I definitely have that thought where I would have liked to have been the guy that would be a difference-maker…be better in that situation. That’s how it plays out sometimes.”

Marchand admitted following the series that he was dealing with groin, oblique and hand injuries during the Stanley Cup Final, but it doesn’t sound like any of those things are going to require surgery. So there are no injury excuses here and instead Marchand and his linemates simply didn’t get it done against a big, strong and heavy St. Louis Blues defensemen core.

The question now becomes whether it was simply a bad stretch for Boston’s top line, or if there is a change that needs to come for Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak. It sure felt like by the end of the Cup Final that the trio simply didn’t have enough size and strength to get to the front of the net, and needed at least one member of their line that could win more battles with oversized D-men in the scoring areas.

The Bruins top line had the same issues with the big, strong Lightning defensemen corps a year ago as well, and a playbook is certainly there against Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak given the right kind of personnel on the back end.

That will be a story for the offseason for the Black and Gold, however. The story this week was about Boston’s best players not being able to get it done when it mattered most, and that most definitely includes Marchand. 

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Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara was one of the biggest stories of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final for the Boston Bruins. In Game 4, Chara suffered a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Despite that, he came back to play in Games 5-7 and did everything he could to help the Boston Bruins win.

Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn't come through. They dropped Game 7 of the Cup Final and the St. Louis Bruins became the NHL champions. It was a disappointing end to the season, but it certainly didn't take away from Chara's warrior-like performance that topped the Bruins' laundry list of injuries.

On Sunday, Chara took to Instagram to thank the Bruins fans for their support during the team's playoff run and ended the post with a strong message: "We will be back..."

View this post on Instagram

It’s been only few days, but I can still hear the overwhelming cheers and applause from our fans. I knew we had the best fans ,but I didn’t realized how special and remarkable you are till I stood in front of you before Game 5.It was an unbelievable experience to have your support. I couldn’t help to fight back tears, but so happy to respond to adversity and be there with my teammates. It was unbelievable feeling of pride and honor to be a Bostonian. We as Bruins fell short of our team goal, but we’re so grateful that we made you proud.This group of players and coaches are very special.I can’t say enough about how many times our team responded the right way to adversity and embrace the challenges. We believe in hard work.We treat each other equally and with respect.We trust each other and depend on each other, but mostly we love to play for this community. On behalf of all of the players and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of our fans for your support and loyalty this year. We never could have made it this far without you. We will be back...

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

This was a great gesture by the 42-year-old captain and long-time Bruin. It's no surprise that he acknowledged the fan support and in particular, the rousing applause he got before playing in Game 5 with the broken jaw. He truly loves the Boston and fans, and the feeling is mutual.

Chara will return to the Bruins for at least one more season in 2020. He signed a one-year, $2 million extension midway through last season and will try to help the Bruins go on another deep playoff run in 2020.

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