- In June 2012, Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron
took the stage in Las Vegas and accepted his first Franke J. Selke Trophy for the league's best defensive forward.
"That’s the way I learned to play hockey, and to actually win an award that’s given to the best defensive forward, or two-way forward, is something very special," the B's center had said to a crowd of peers. "But like I said, I can’t do this without my teammates, and they’re the reason why I’m here."
Game in and game out, for the past nine seasons, the 27-year-old has taken immense pride at both ends of the ice. And now, heading into Game No. 23 in Ottawa, it's status quo for the leader in Black & Gold.
"A lot," said Bergeron, on the pride he and his linemates Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin take in their two-way game. "We've always talked about it. I think we have the chemistry and experience to play together now for the second year, and it really helps a lot."
"I think these two guys are really taking pride in it and really want to improve," said Bergeron on Marchand and Seguin. "Myself included, I want to always learn as well. If you work as hard to score a goal as you do to defend one, that's how you get success."
"We want to be able to be out in any situation, we want to be accountable," said Marchand. "That's what you need to win a Cup and go far in the playoffs, you need every guy to be accountable in all areas of the ice."
"We know when we're out there we're normally on against the other teams' top lines and we have a job to do that, and that's to shut them down. We take a lot of pride in that."
Over the course of the past 10 games, the trio has combined for 38 points (Bergeron: 4-10=14, Seguin (6-6=12, Marchand: 5-7=12), with the B's 8-1-1 over that span. Six of the eight game-winning goals in those games came from Bergeron's line.
But the more impressive stat is their collective plus-48. Bergeron ranks tied for fourth in the NHL with a plus-17, while Seguin comes in at plus-16 and Marchand with plus-15. When No. 37 took home the Selke at the end of last season, he finished first in the league with a plus-36.
"We're playing pretty well right now, we're getting a lot of opportunities," Marchand said of their production, before adding their good D-zone coverage often helps them create offense. "We try to take advantage of other teams' top lines in their own end. Sometimes some guys don't like to come back as hard. We try to take advantage of that."
Anchoring the line's success is Bergeron and his constant growth (incredible to think of him still getting better, isn't it?)
"He's always working to improve his game and trying to be better," said Marchand. "It seems like every time he comes in he's playing a little bit better and he's improved in some area of his game, and it's the same this year. He's a tremendous guy to play with and we're lucky to have him."
As Bergeron continues to improve, he brings his linemates right along with him, and Seguin's two-way play, in particular, has been on full display this season.
"Definitely. We take so much pride in our own zone," Seguin told media following practice back in New England on Sunday, before traveling to Ottawa. "It's because of that that we're having chances at the other end, making good plays in our own zone, getting it out pretty quick."
"I think it's all about contributing as much as you can when you're not scoring. I think I'm trying to bring my style of game and things I I've learned from watching Bergy as well. Just trying to be an elite two-way forward. That's what I want to be, so that's what I've been focusing on and it's starting to show."
"It has grown a lot," Coach Julien said earlier today following the B's morning skate, of the trio's two-way play. "You got two young players on each side of Bergy, and even he's young."
"He's been in the league for so long you don't view him that way, but he's an experienced centerman. He's got the guy on the left [Seguin] that can score some big goals and big times. And like I said a few days back, probably a little underrated because of the other part of his game that takes away from that."
"Tyler Seguin is really turning the corner right now and starting to be the player that everybody expected to see in the beginning of the season," added Coach, on the offense catching up with No. 19's defensive play to begin the season that he excelled at during a snake-bitten stretch.
"He's had a slow start, but he's really picked it up lately. Good skater, he's battling a lot better along the board, and he's doing a great job with his back-check. Already in the last two weeks he's saved two goals by himself."
"It's a credit to him and a credit to that line the way they bought into playing all the same way."