In times of trouble, the Boston Bruins
look to Patrice Bergeron
Trailing the Buffalo Sabres
after Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series qualifies.
A 2-1 loss doesn't constitute a crisis so early in the series, but the Bruins know they need a player like Bergeron to respond in order to bring the series back to Boston tied 1-1.
"I really don't think everyone realizes what he means to this team and how valuable he is," veteran Mark Recchi
told NESN.com of Bergeron. "He is a natural leader that has really taken on that role this season both on and off the ice. He is just a heart-and-soul type player and it's been a pleasure to watch him grow into this role since I've been here."
With his balanced, two-way game, Bergeron was a key piece to the Bruins' success through the frustration and adversity they experienced this season. His on-ice performance didn't go unnoticed as he was named to Team Canada for the 2010 Olympics and now there is plenty of talk that Bergeron could be a finalist for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the League's best defensive forward.
"You have to take a lot of things into account. No. 1, he kills penalties and he kills them well," coach Claude Julien
said. "No. 2, he plays against top lines all year and he's a plus player on a team that doesn't score much. That should tell you something as well. I don't think there's been anybody more reliable as a two-way player than [Bergeron]. There's no doubt that he should be considered and he should be seriously considered. He led us in scoring, matching against good lines, he's a plus player and penalty killer, along with everything else. How can you not take that guy seriously?"
But as Recchi pointed out, while Bergeron has found all of these elements to his game at a crucial times, it's what he has done behind closed doors and the passion he brings that may have been more important this season.
"I've had the pleasure to play with plenty of great players and real leaders," Recchi said. "But I really think I'm going to say the same about Patrice when I look back. I could tell playing against him and even in the short time I was here last season, how good of a two-way player he was and just the talent he has. But what struck me was his passion and love for the game. That's come through even more this season.
"He reminds me a lot of Saku Koivu
, who I played with in Montreal," Recchi said. "He's the type of leader that leads by example, but when it's needed he speaks and that's why when he speaks, people listen. They know that he doesn't say much, so if he does have something to say, it's going to be important and worth listening to. I've been lucky to have played with guys like Saku and I can say the same about 'Bergy'. He's a class act and a true leader."
Those leadership qualities have also caught the attention of Bruins' captain and Zdeno Chara
"I've definitely seen him grow as a leader," Chara said. "You have to think with the Olympics and World Championships, the leaders he played with rubbed off on him and you can tell he learned a lot and is now using it here. He's a great help and one of our leaders for sure."
For Bergeron, it's an honor to hear such praise, as well as being selected to Team Canada by Executive Director Steve Yzerman
"I'm just trying to go out and help my team as much as I can, but yeah, when guys like 'Rex' or 'Z' and, of course, a great captain like 'Stevie Y' it means a lot," Bergeron said. "You take that and you build off it."