On March 2nd, with the Islanders leading the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 2-1, Bruno Gervais pounced on a rebound, and one-timed a slapshot past goaltender Andrew Raycroft.
The drought had ended.
For the first time since the 2005-06 season—a span of 160 games— Gervais had found the back of the net. However, that was only the start of his resurgence.
The Islanders defenseman has scored three times and compiled seven points this month, increasing his career-high points total to 16. But it has not simply been about offensive statistics. Gervais has improved every aspect of his game—playing solid defense, jumping into the offensive action, delivering hits and has raised his overall level of play.
“Confidence is a big part of it,” Gervais said. “The team has been playing hard and playing well. It’s really about the team winning lately, that’s the best feeling. I don’t care how many goals I score—if we don’t win, it’s not any fun. I give it everything I have out there, and the puck’s been finding the back of the net, which is good.”
One of the people Gervais credits for his recent success is his new partner on defense—All-Star Mark Streit
“Mark’s been a big part of it,” Gervais said. “I’ve learned a lot from him. He creates a lot of things offensively and moves the puck a lot, which I like to do as well. The chemistry was there right off the bat, which was a really good thing.”
The pairing has benefitted both men, as there are times that Streit will jump into the play, and other times he will encourage Gervais to do so.
“It’s been a pleasure to play with him, we have very good communication on the ice,” Streit said. “He has all of the tools of a really good defenseman and he works hard. As the whole team has improved, we have improved as a defensive pair.”
For Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon, Gervais’ improved play offensively is directly related to his hard work, and improved play defensively.
“Bruno’s second half has been great, he’s been getting better every game,” Gordon said. “He’s playing smarter and that, in turn, has made him more effective defensively and it’s given him the opportunity to improve offensively.”
Gordon thinks that Streit has definitely had a positive influence on Gervais, as well as the other Islanders defensemen.
“I think all of our defensemen have been able to watch Mark and have been able to learn the instincts that go along with being an offensive player,” Gordon said. “Because Bruno is playing smarter, and covering the ice better, he’s got more energy to be a part of the offense. There are more recognizable situations, where he can identify that it’s time to get on the attack.”
One area of Gervais’ game that’s in no need of improvement is the 24-year-old’s service off the ice. A tireless worker in communities throughout Long Island, Gervais was recently nominated for Eleventh Annual NHL Foundation Award. The honor is designed to promote the charitable efforts of current NHL players, and to reward the player that best exemplifies a commitment to the community in which he lives.
“It’s something that I’ll always value, it’s so important to give back to the community,” Gervais said. “For me it’s never been work, it’s always a lot of fun. An award like that would just be icing on the cake for me.”