Commitment to 'D' is foundation to Bergeron's game
Tuesday, 06.18.2013 / 1:25 AM / Blackhawks vs Bruins - 2013 Stanley Cup Final
BOSTON - Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is scheduled to get married this summer. If he wants to hold the wedding in a place he loves, linemate Jaromir Jagr has an idea.
"I never really see a more hungry guy in the defensive zone. I said that before, I think he even likes to be in the defensive zone. I think he loves it," Jagr said after the Bruins won Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Monday night at TD Garden.
"He's just, you know, he's so responsible with every puck and he wants to win every puck on the boards in the defensive zone. So it makes it a lot easier for me and [Brad Marchand]."
Bergeron makes the most of every second he's in the defensive zone, although that isn't usually a lot of time when he's playing his best and helping get pucks out. In the win Monday night against Chicago that put the Bruins up 2-1 in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 4 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), Bergeron's stick was in every passing lane, he was positioned almost perfectly for every battle and he proved how much he loves to win faceoffs.
Bergeron, who led the NHL in faceoff percentage during the regular season at 62.1 percent, won 24 of 28 draws in 19:49 of ice time. He was 10-for-10 in the offensive and neutral zones combined. He was 8-for-8 against Michal Handzus and 5-for-7 against Selke Trophy winner (best defensive forward) Jonathan Toews. He leads all playoff performers with a 62.7 percent success rate.
As a team, the Bruins won 40 of 56 faceoffs.
"It is definitely something we take a lot of pride in," said Bergeron, who was last season's Selke winner and lost out to Toews this season despite receiving more first-place votes. "We talk about it a lot and we have some very good centermen. It is not just about the four centers on the ice. It is about everybody chipping in and helping and winning those battles."
Not to diminish the efforts of goaltender Tuukka Rask in his 28-save shutout, but seemingly almost all the Bruins' best defensive games are team efforts. In front of Rask, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are the shutdown pair that leads the defense corps. In front of the defense are the forwards led by Bergeron, who has been dominating opposing centers in the open ice and at the faceoff dots for years.
Rask has had a great view of Bergeron's defensive play both from the crease and the Bruins' bench for several years. He's marveled at the things Bergeron has done.
"He's really patient and he's really good at reading the play. He always knows where everybody is," Rask said. "He knows when the guys are behind him and when they're in front of him. He just makes the right reads all the time. Then when there's time to lie down or block a shot, he does that. He does a great job standing on his feet, too, and taking care of those passing lanes.
"He's got to be one of the best in the League for doing that. I like playing behind him. It's awesome."
Of course, there's more to Bergeron than just defense.
He proved that with a power-play goal with 5:55 remaining in the second period that extended the Bruins' lead to 2-0. He now has seven goals in 19 postseason games, including four goals and six points in his past six games. In the regular season, Bergeron produced 10 goals and 32 points in 42 games. He's scored 19 or more goals in six of his seven seasons in the NHL.
But with Bergeron, everything always points back to the defensive zone. So does he love being in there?
"I take pride in it. I take pride in both sides," he said. "Don't get me wrong here, I love to be in the offensive zone, but yeah, it is about doing the job there and don't spend too much time [so] we go on the attack."
Bergeron and defense are a marriage that works out well for the Bruins.