So it was no surprise that when given the opportunity to use an injury as an excuse for his inability to prevent the Bruins from losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to Washington 2-1 in overtime, Bergeron passed.
"I don't want to use that tonight. I'll let you guys know," Bergeron said after Wednesday's loss. "I don't want to talk about it now if you don't mind, if you guys don't mind. But obviously on the checkout, I'll let you guys know."
BRUINS VS. CAPITALS
Capitals stun Bruins in OT to win Game 7Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer
Joel Ward scored on a rebound 2:57 into overtime to propel the Washington Capitals past the defending champion Boston Bruins in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, winning 2-1 on Wednesday night at TD Garden. READ MORE ›
For the second straight game, Bergeron was unable to take faceoffs. Just as he did in the third period of Game 6 Sunday, however, he was forced to take one late – this time in overtime – and again prevailed in a defensive zone draw against Brooks Laich. Bergeron, a 22-goal scorer during the regular season and a Selke Trophy finalist, was limited to just two shots on net and one hit in the defending Stanley Cup champions' last appearance of the 2011-12 season.
Bergeron was clearly burdened by some sort of upper-body injury that limited his ability to be the two-way force and faceoff dominator he usually has been for the Bruins for years.
Bergeron was asked if he was able to perform at the high level he expects out of himself.
"No, it was ... it's there," he said while taking a long pause in between to collect himself. "It was a little better, but not much better. But like I said, I don't want to use that as an excuse right now. And it's a tough one to swallow and I really don't want to put that on an injury. I'm not the only one that goes through that stuff."
Even before he was injured in Game 5, Bergeron was struggling to produce. He finished with just two assists in the seven games. But he wasn't alone. Tyler Seguin, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, managed just two goals and one assist against the Capitals. His fellow first-liners Milan Lucic and David Krejci combined for just six points.
After tying the Philadelphia Flyers for the second-most goals (260) during the regular season, the Bruins found the back of the net only 15 times in seven games against Washington.
"They made it tough on us, and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they played and the number of shots they blocked, and how they helped their goaltender through," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "A young goaltender played extremely well, so let's not forget to give them a lot of credit for how they handled us."
Capitals rookie goaltender Braden Holtby finished the series with a .940 save percentage. Washington blocked 18 shots in Game 7 to run its total to an astounding 139 for the series. Maybe it all would have been in vain, however, if Bergeron had been able to cash in on an early-overtime scoring chance.
Dennis Seidenberg let go a shot that knuckled on Holtby from the left point. Bergeron was wide open to the left of the slot with a yawning net, but the puck went wide with just 35 seconds elapsed in overtime.
"It just exploded, just kind of rolled on my stick there," Bergeron said. "The puck was bouncing and I just tried to go quick obviously because there's not much time, and the puck wouldn't settle."
Boston's offense also could've benefitted from a better performance from the right-handed shots taking most of the faceoffs in Bergeron's place. Krejci finished just 5-for-15, while Rich Peverley went 11-for-26. Even worse, Peverley lost eight of 10 faceoffs in the third period and overtime.
"It had an impact, I think, as far as faceoffs were concerned," Julien said about Bergeron's injury. "You look at tonight, and we really struggled, especially with our right-handed centermen. [Left-handed shot Chris Kelly] did a great job (7-for-9) but on the right side between Krejci and Peverley, we didn't do a very good job.
That's where a guy like Bergeron comes in handy, and when you win draws, you start with the puck. So we didn't start with the puck as much as we'd like to tonight, and that certainly wears on you throughout the game."
As the longest-tenured Bruin, Bergeron has been part of the ecstasy of last year's Cup championship and the agony of four Game 7 losses in his career. He knows exactly what it takes to get through a playoff series, and he proved his playoff mettle by battling through an injury that limited his performance.
However, he still didn't know how to process the loss to the Capitals in such a short time.
"It's obviously hard to swallow, tough to understand right now," Bergeron said. "I think it's obviously going to take us a couple days just to sink that one in. Obviously we weren't ready for being done right now."