By Kirk Luedeke
BOSTON-- Patrice Bergeron has been a lot of different people for the Boston Bruins in his eight year NHL career.
|Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins sported green jerseys during warmups before their St. Patrick's Day matchup with the visiting Flyers. (Getty)|
On Saturday, he helped lift his team to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in a festive St. Patrick’s Day matinee at the TD Garden, scoring the decisive breakaway goal, while Tim Thomas denied Daniel Briere at the other end. Even after he made the crucial play to preserve a well-earned extra point for his team, the 26-year-old downplayed his role in the affair, however.
“The guys did a great job scoring those two goals before me,” he said, referencing regulation tallies from Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. “It’s not just me out there, and Timmy made a huge save at the end so like I said it’s a huge effort by everyone and it was great to get.”
Bergeron’s latest contribution has become old hat to his teammates and fans alike, who have grown used to his ability to make plays and help the B’s win games in any situation. For the veteran Kelly, who joined the team a year ago as a key part of Boston’s Stanley Cup run, his fellow alternate captain’s heroics is summed up with the nickname he uses for Bergeron these days.
“There’s a reason ‘Mr. Everything’ went last there,” Kelly said with a smile. “He does it all and I don’t think anyone doubted him for a second there.”
The Quebec City native (the town of Syllery to be exact) was the youngest player in franchise history to score 30 goals when he tallied 31 as a 20-year-old in just his second big league campaign (third pro season because of the lockout). Bergeron hasn’t hit that plateau since, but has become one of the club’s top passer/playmakers. Need an ace penalty killer? He can do that too, and Bergeron has always provided the same kind of quiet but firm leadership by example that one Raymond Bourque did in his 21 seasons as a Bruin.
“We worried about our own jobs and nothing else,” Bergeron said later, deflecting credit for his own play to the rest of his mates like every good leader should. “We trusted the guy next to you that he was going to do the same thing and do his job and when you trust each other on the ice like that it’s a lot easier—it makes it a lot better for everyone.”
Bergeron has more career shootout goals (14) than any other Bruin in team history since the NHL implemented the procedure in the 2005-06 season. Against the red-hot Ilya Bryzgalov, he made it look easy, much as his teammates David Krejci and Seguin had done before him.
“I felt like it was open,” he said when asked if he saw more room to Bryzgalov’s stick side. “I was trying to fake going on his glove side and coming back against the grain. I felt like the hole was there when I was coming in so I just tried to put it there.”
Gregory Campbell, who had a spirited fight with Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo, talked afterwards about the importance of Bergeron’s shootout tally as it pertained to the critical extra point Boston skated away with.
“It seems like a minor part of the game but it’s not,” he said. “That point was huge for us and it’s something that we practice on a daily basis.”
For Bergeron, who was as serious about his craft and the responsibilities that go with being a professional athlete the day the Bruins drafted him in 2003 as he is now, being successful in the shootout is a product of design and not luck.
“You try to bring a different approach and different moves,” Bergeron said. “We all have videos and we can all see the tendencies of goalies so it’s the same thing for us as shooters as for goalies. You try to go out there and change it up but also you gotta trust your instincts and just go out there and don’t think too much.”
With a supportive TD Garden crowd in full roar throughout the game and an honest effort across the board, Bergeron did his part to make sure he and his team reaped the rewards and the crucial extra point in the standings to go with it.