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Bergeron, Bruins Put Defense First

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron is in the midst of a six-game points streak and a career-best five-game goals streak. He has been the first Bruin on the board in Boston’s last five games.

He scored twice in Boston’s 3-0 shutout of the Blackhawks at TD Garden on Thursday night, which stands as one of their most impressive victories of the season to date. 

But if you asked Bergeron, he would tell you that he’s just as happy preventing a Blackhawks goal as he is scoring one of his own—and he means it.

The Bruins play a defense-first system, and nobody exemplifies their style of play more than Bergeron. The fact that the B’s have allowed just nine goals in their last nine games is far more likely to put a smile on the perennial Selke candidate's face than the fact that he netted two goals against Chicago, the team that won the Stanley Cup on his home ice 10 months ago.

“[Defense] is something that is part of our game as a team, as a whole,” he said. “We are a defense-type of team, and we get some offense with playing defensively-sound and stuff like that. So I think we have to keep that going.”

Earlier this week, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said there are some players on his team who could play for a different team, be the star of the show and put up plenty of points every season. But those players prefer to play in Boston, for the Bruins, where it’s always team-first, where defense is what wins games.

Those players prefer to have an opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup every season rather than pad their individual stats, and again, nobody exemplifies that more than Bergeron.

“The puck’s going in, I guess,” he said on Thursday. “There’s not much to say about it. It’s just, you get those chances sometimes during the year, and it doesn’t go in, and now it is.”

“Obviously, it’s great. Any time I can chip in offensively and keep my two-way game, I’m happy with it.”

Over the last six games, we’ve seen plenty of glimpses of Bergeron’s offensive capabilities. This season, as always, we’ve also seen what he’s capable of on the faceoff dot, where he leads the league in wins. And there is no doubt that his NHL-best plus-38 rating means far more to him than his goals total at season’s end.

“I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that’s watched him play that he values every part of his game,” Julien said. “Whether it’s faceoff percentage, whether it’s plus/minus, whether he’s responsible for a goal against – he takes those things every seriously, and he’s hard on himself when it comes to that.”

“So I think he’s proud of what he is. He’s comfortable in the role that he’s asked to play, and at the same time, it’s always nice to see guys like that get rewarded with some decent stats—which he deserves.”

Bergeron values the overall result rather than his stat line on the score sheet. If the Bruins are winning, it most likely means he’s playing the right way.

“I’m happy it’s going in, but I just want to keep my same game, the same level of play, keep getting better,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, that’s part of my game. Also, it’s to help out offensively and scoring goals and creating plays. I’m definitely happy it’s going in, but that being said, I’m happy when I defend a goal as much as scoring them.”

As a team, the Bruins have been playing their best hockey of the season over the last several weeks. They are currently riding a 14-game point streak and are 13-0-1 over that span.

And it’s fitting: The Bruins have never been a team that rides one superstar to glory. They play as a team, and they win as a team.

They all prefer it that way.

“You can’t just single out one guy; everyone’s been playing good,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “And if you win 12 in a row…everybody has to be on the same page, and we have been. It’s not just one guy; it’s everybody raising their game.”

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