BostonBruins.com - Team Canada earned their second straight win at the Olympics on Friday in Sochi, with a 6-0 shutout of Austria.
Patrice Bergeron may not have put up two assists like he did in their opening 3-1 win over Norway, but the Bruins' alternate captain continued to show his versatility and trustworthy play at both ends.
He remained at right wing on a line with center John Tavares and Jamie Benn. Like in the opener, they continued to create chances nearly every time they hit the ice.
With the trio utilized in a third line capacity, as opposed to the fourth line like in the first game, Bergeron saw his minutes jump up from 10:59 to 13:14. He fired two shots on goal, and went 71-percent on the faceoff dot, winning five of seven draws, which predominantly came on the penalty kill.
About five minutes into the first period at Bolshoy Ice Dome, Bergeron sent a pass across to Tavares at the right circle that was halted by the Austrian goaltender.
After the stoppage, Jonathan Toews won the ensuing faceoff back to Drew Doughty, who ripped it in to get Canada on the board.
Later in the first, Bergeron had a prime opportunity from the right circle, with the goalie sprawling to cover a rebound that popped out with the forward crashing the net.
Soon after the chance, Shea Weber made it 2-0 heading to the second.
Led by Jeff Carter's natural hat trick and a nifty backhand move by Ryan Getzlaf, Canada took a comfortable 6-0 lead in the third, which they would not surrender.
Sporting black jerseys for the game, the "men in black" never put on the brakes, outshooting Austria 46-23.
Bergeron and his line kept adding to the cause, with their forechecking and keen hockey sense.
At one point, with Canada up 5-0, Tavares' hard forecheck got Bergeron the puck behind the goal. A slick feed later to the slot, and Benn almost had his second tally of the tournament after being set up by Bergeron for the game-winner in Canada's win over Norway.
The Bruin may have four penalty minutes in the tournament, but he's been a mainstay on the penalty kill, which is the area of the game that Claude Julien was tasked with as an associate coach for Team Canada.
Bergeron helped kill of a double-minor for high-sticking to Benn in the third period, winning a defensive zone faceoff at one point with the puck being sent the length of the ice.
Prior to Sochi, I sat down with Julien about the preparation and roster decisions for the Olympics, joking that Bergeron was at the top of his list from the start.
"Well you know, to me, he's one of the best two-way players in the league and he's such a valuable penalty killer; you can utilize him at all times in the game," Julien had said.
"And when you're certainly trying to protect the goal, you know he's going to do everything to do that, so he's been such a versatile player and a player we've leaned on so much."
He may have been an easy choice in Julien's mind for his second trip to the Olympics, but he was also seen as a reliable player to the rest of the Team Canada staff.
"He's earned a lot of respect around the league in these last few years, just because he just keeps getting better and better, so I think he was a very unanimous choice amongst all of us," said Julien.
"Certainly deserving of it, a second opportunity for him to go there and bring back gold, so happy to see one of my players on the team."
With Canada's extensive depth (the kind that can have Toews taking shifts in a fourth line role), Bergeron may be playing a bottom-six role on Canada, but he's making something happen whenever he's on the ice.
If you're on Team Canada, logged minutes aren't the benchmark; it's what you do with those minutes.
Case in point: Jeff Carter putting up a hat trick in a team-low 8:46 of ice time.
"At the end of the day, there are so many good players, and we feel that we've got a really good team right now," Julien had said. "We're really proud of our depth."
Canada has the day off on Saturday, before facing off against Finland in their final game of the preliminary round on Sunday, February 16 (noon ET, live on USA Network).