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Iginla, Bergeron Leading March to Playoffs

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - In March, the Bruins blazed a 15-1-1 record, clinching a playoff berth and the Atlantic Division along the way.

During that span, Jarome Iginla scored 13 goals, including five game-winners, putting up 17 points with a plus-12 rating. On Tuesday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the Month.

A day prior, Patrice Bergeron had been given Second Star of the Week honors for the NHL's week ending March 30. The centerman put up five goals during the week, with the game-winner in a 3-0 shutout of Chicago, and capped off a career-best seven-game streak, scoring eight goals in that span.

Both Bruins, along with the collective team in the Spoked-B, have been on fire, and don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

"I think it's incumbent on us as players to keep pushing the pace; the coaching staff drives us every day and the leaders in the room have been the ones that have really been stepping up, as you see Bergy, Jarome, those guys have been playing great hockey," said Gregory Campbell. "And that's what we need."

"I think it starts with the leaders and what I've noticed most from playing here for a few years now, is those leaders are the hardest workers, and if we happen to bring in new guys - case in point, Jarome, a guy who's been around and is still hungry to this day."

"So those are the guys that keep pushing us and pushing the rest of the team day in and day out, to never be satisfied."

In addition to his hot hands, Iginla reached two milestones in March, playing in his 1,300th NHL game on March 17 against the Wild, while also passing Johnny "Chief" Bucyk on the NHL's all-time goals list with two strikes against the Colorado Avalanche on March 21. The right wing enters April tied for 24th on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list with Guy Lafleur at 560.

Through 75 games, he was first on the Bruins in goals (30), second in points (61) and third in assists (31) and plus/minus rating (+34).

"It’s an honor," said Iginla, of being named the First Star. "It’s been an enjoyable month I think for our whole team."

"We’ve had a great month as a team and there’s been a lot of guys who’ve had great months, great streaks and you look at Bergy — his has been as hot as I’ve seen, so it’s been good. It’s been fun, but it’s one of those things you don’t really expect."

"I think bigger than that, as a team, we’ve had a great month as a team and I think we’ve all benefited from that."

"I think when you look at the way he's been this month, he's been really consistent, he's been a clutch player," said Julien, of the veteran winger, whom he includes in the team's core leadership group.

"Those kinds of guys - he's been around for a long time - are pretty savvy when it comes to dealing with the whole season, and sometimes they have those slower starts - and for me, the slow start was only production wise, certainly not from work ethic and commitment - and then he finds his groove, finds his hands, and everything that comes with it."

"At the end of the season, where we are right now, he's playing some of his best hockey, so it's a good thing for us to witness here with him, and again, to me he's very deserving of receiving that award."

Over the weekend, as the Bruins picked up wins in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals, and in Philadelphia against the Flyers, Julien reflected on what he's learned in getting to know Iginla this season.

"You know what, he's even-keeled, no matter what," said Julien, of what he respects most about the vet. "Even when he didn't score at the beginning of the year, you didn't see panic. You saw a guy coming to work every day with a smile on his face and being happy to be part of the group. There was no stress, and he just kept working."

"Even when he wasn't scoring, you were seeing him throw his weight around, you were seeing him drop the gloves, he was always doing something to help this team out and you know, his work ethic has been great from start to finish and now his goal scoring, once it picked up, has been our best."

Bergeron's play has been just as strong. His career-high scoring streak is only one part of what he brings the Bruins (though, you already knew that).

"He's coming up big when we need him to come up big, and he's scored some big goals for us for quite a while now," said Julien.

"He's having a real good season. Goal production is up and his plus-minus is still where it is, one of the best if not the best in the league, so he's a great all-around player and it's great to see those guys accomplish those things quietly and humbly - and that's just the way that those guys are."

Heading into the Bruins' road back-to-back in Detroit and Toronto, Bergeron is second on the Bruins in goals (27), third in points (56) and tied for fifth in assists with linemate Reilly Smith (29). His plus-36 rating ranks second in the NHL, while his faceoff percentage ranks third in the league at 58.8%. The centerman’s 954 faceoff wins are the most in the League.

"He's been a leader for quite a while now," said Julien. "I guess he first started as more of a quiet leader and he's become pretty vocal and more of a presence in the room, where before, he used to let his actions speak for itself, and now he's more of an in the dressing room kind of leader as well, speaks up when it's time to speak up, and he's really taken charge."

"He's been a real good asset for a guy like Zdeno, who has been a great Captain, but you surround yourself with good people like that and you've got yourself a pretty good leadership group."

For Bergeron, his all-around game has always been there, and his leadership intangibles have made him one of the most respected players not only in the Bruins' room, but around the League.

Lately, the puck has been going in for him, but he'll continue to keep the focus on anyone but himself.

"Yeah, I should just keep putting it on net, I guess," Bergeron said with a brief laugh, after he helped Boston to a 4-3 shootout win over the Flyers on Sunday. "It's one of those streaks, where the puck's going in. I don't think I'm doing anything different, just try and keep playing my game at 200 feet and playing at both sides, and my linemates and everyone helping me."

"We're pushing together. No one's really looking at who's scoring; it's about winning, and it's fun like that."

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