LAS VEGAS -- Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has had too long to think about what went wrong for the Bruins last season and whether they can rebound in 2016-17.
Bergeron has been idle since April 9, the day Boston lost its regular-season finale to the Ottawa Senators, a loss that allowed the Detroit Red Wings to pass them for third place in the Atlantic Division and opened the door for the Philadelphia Flyers to overtake them in the wild card race into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins also did not qualify for the playoffs in 2015. Those misses were the first for Bergeron since the Bruins missed in 2005 and 2006. The early departures from the hockey stage have not rested well with Bergeron.
"It's been different," Bergeron said. "Last year was one of those things where you want to shake it off and come back stronger and have a good year. I thought we did that for the most part and then it crumbled at the end and now we are in same boat, so it is tough."
The Bruins went 3-6-1 during their final 10 games of the season, tumbling out of a playoff spot while Philadelphia and Detroit moved into playoff positioning.
Bergeron made his comments during his media availability Tuesday for the 2016 NHL Awards Show (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN) here on Wednesday. Bergeron is a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, an award he has won three of the past four seasons as the League's best defensive forward.
Bergeron doesn't focus on the tailspin that spiraled the Bruins out of the playoff race, but rather how competitive they were at other points in the season. With 10 games left in the season, the Bruins had 86 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the 2016 Stanley Cup Final with a six-game victory against the San Jose Sharks, had 88 points with 10 games remaining.
The difference, of course, is the Penguins hit their stride as the postseason approached and rode that wave to their first title since 2009.
"That's something that I actually thought about and that we are closer than some people might think," Bergeron said. "It's all about belief. That's what they did better than anyone else. They struggled for a long part of the season, but they stuck with it and kept believing and they improved as a team and by playoff time, I thought they were playing the best hockey of all the teams.
"That is how you win championships; it's about coming together and giving yourself a chance to be within the 16 teams."
Video: BOS@STL: Bergeron buries home loose puck for PPG
Bergeron is very friendly with Sidney Crosby, the Penguins captain. He says he might spend some time this summer talking to Crosby about how Pittsburgh made the transition from a team that was routinely falling short of expectations to one that went all the way. The two players will spend a lot of time together in September as members of Team Canada in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
"I'm not going to force it," Bergeron said of a potential conversation. "It's always nice to talk not only with Sid, but with players from around the League when you are playing with so many great players and leaders. It's always fun to have a chance to interact and learn from them."
The Bruins face a summer of transition. Right wing Loui Eriksson, who had 63 points, five fewer than Bergeron's team-high 68, is approaching unrestricted free agency and will likely hit the open market. Defenseman Torey Krug, who had 44 points, is a restricted free agent. Other changes could come to a roster that has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
But Bergeron doesn't believe a major overhaul is needed.
"I thought we had a good team," Bergeron said. "We'll see what happens. We have good players coming up and getting experience. I don't think you can buy experience. It's one of those things where hopefully they keep going and make us better. That's the way I look at it. We'll see if some changes are made. Like I said, I'm looking forward to training camp already."