Boston Bruins: How Patrice Bergeron Began the End of the Team's Slump
Bergeron is one of only three active Bruins who previously knew the vinegary taste of surpassing the 10-game mark and entering the month of November with a sub-.500 record. He along with captain Zdeno Chara and goaltender Tim Thomas went through the full length of the 2006-07 season under the misguidance of Dave Lewis, when the Bruins slumped to a 35-41-6 record.
But Bergeron is the franchise’s only constituent who has been through a start like this twice before. His second season with Boston, on the other side of the lockout, began with a 4-5-1 start and ended in a playoff no-show and comprehensive front-office overhaul.
Furthermore, production-wise, those were Bergeron’s two best years to date with a 73-point campaign in 2005-06 and 70 points the year after.
Accordingly, the full-time alternate captain was reliving the frustration of pitching in and reaping no rewards as the Bruins rallied in vain against San Jose and then conceded all of the home-and-home loot to Montreal.
But that made it all the more fitting when, on Tuesday night, Bergeron offered up a variety pack of both tangible and intangible contributions to help Boston come from behind and trip up the streaking Senators, 5-3.
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Bergeron, who took Boston’s first shot on goal 72 seconds into the action, warranted at least partial credit for deleting both of Ottawa’s initial leads. He not only drew a 2-2 knot late in the second period, but also set the path for Boston’s first equalizer, even though he was not on the ice when it came.
A mere 12 seconds after Nick Foligno drew first blood, Bergeron won a defensive zone face-off, initiated an unhesitating rush to the other end, where he proceeded to draw Sergei Gonchar’s second hooking infraction in less than six minutes.
While his former teammate from his rookie campaign in 2003-04 served the two-minute sentence, Bergeron landed one of Boston’s four power-play shots, the last of which was sent home for a vital goal via Milan Lucic.
While most every Bruins’ man-up conversion is suspected of being a tease these days, this was a timely exploitation of the NHL’s second-worst penalty-killing team. And it was Bergeron who forced Ottawa to go down a man to begin with.
Although the Senators promptly restored their lead 16 seconds later, their league-leading power play could not click to augment the lead when given the chance.
One of the reasons that the Bruins were able to kill Gregory Campbell’s penalty before the halfway mark of the opening frame was because Bergeron stalled Ottawa’s attack with a shorthanded shot. It would turn out to be the only registered stab at either end during that particular 5-on-4 segment. By night’s end, the Senators had only managed to test Thomas once on a total of three power plays.
With less than two minutes to spare before intermission, a neutral-zone takeaway by Bergeron may have effectively hindered Ottawa’s bid for a lethal late-period strike that likewise would have granted the Sens a 3-1 advantage.
After repeatedly averting the game’s fourth goal on the home front, none other than Bergeron tallied it on Ottawa property. In a rare 4-on-2 rush, he absorbed Tyler Seguin’s pass from the far lane and shipped it home from the high slot.
From there, the Bruins usurped the front-runner role and some of Bergeron’s mates picked up the rest of the slack. Of the subsequent three Boston goals, which amounted to 3-2, 4-3 and 5-3 leads, there were seven individual point-getters. Six of them did not arrive until after the summer of 2007 and two multi-point performers, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, came at last year’s trading deadline.
Kelly and Peverley collaborated on the two go-ahead plays, polishing the hard-fought, heavily pined-for victory. But not unlike their struggles and delayed gratification circa 2005-2007, the Bruins’ snap out of a near two-week hibernation began primarily with Bergeron.
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