Since signing with Switzerland's HC Lugano in early October, Boston Bruins star Patrice Bergeron has found tremendous success. The defensive-minded center has exploded offensively in the National League A.
Lugano deployed the Bruins' top center on the right wing in his first game on October 9. The strange move paid immediate dividends as Bergeron found the back of the net twice and assisted on two other goals in a 7-3 victory over SCL Tigers.
He has excelled offensively with 28 points in 19 games. His current 1.47 points per game average is far from what one might expect from the defending Frank J. Selke Trophy winner.
Bergeron claimed the award as the NHL's top defensive forward after leading the National Hockey League in plus-minus with a plus-36 rating.
Even as his focus shifts towards the scoresheet in Switzerland, "Bergy" has not forgotten his defensive responsibility. He is a solid plus-seven on the season despite playing for a mediocre club.
Bergeron sprang out of the gates in Lugano with six goals and five assists in his first five games before suffering an upper body injury. The injury caused Bruins nation to hold its collective breath, as the news reminded fans of Bergeron's struggle with a torn oblique in the 2012 playoffs.
Luckily, the Bruins alternate captain only missed two games and returned to form immediately upon returning to the ice.
Since overcoming the injury at the end of October, Bergeron has posted 17 of his 28 points, relieving any concerns of lasting damage.
Playing alongside former Bruin Glen Metropolit, Bergeron has climbed to the 12th spot in the league's scoring charts. That ranking is very impressive considering that he has played at least eight fewer games than nine of the 11 players ahead of him.
His scoring rate is higher than teammate Tyler Seguin, who leads all locked out NHL stars in goals with 24. Seguin, who is playing for Switzerlands EHC Biel, ranks fourth in the league with 38 points.
Seguin's stat line has earned him plenty of recognition over the past few weeks, but Bergeron's may be even better. If the Bruins linemates continue to score in bunches upon their return to the NHL, Boston may have the most formidable top line in the league.
Bergeron and Seguin have gone head to head twice this season, splitting the pair of games. An October clash saw Bergeron put up a goal and an assist to lead his time to the 6-3 win, while Seguin had a hand in all three EHC Biel goals. In the second tilt, both Bruins earned a goal and an assist with Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane giving Seguin's squad the edge in a 5-4 December contest.
Twelve Bruins have competed in Europe so far this season, and 10 of them remain abroad, following the return of Tuukka Rask and Chris Kelly. Bergeron has been arguably the best of the group, which includes David Krejci, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.
His collection of spectacular performances abroad portends a tremendous season upon his eventual return to Boston. An improved offensive game should help him solidify his position among the NHL true elites.
*All National League A statistics courtesy of nationalleague.ch