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Selke finalist Bergeron a mentor for young Bruins

by Dan Rosen

DETROIT -- Forwards Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith and Tyler Seguin all have something in common other than being current or former Boston Bruins.

Once Bruins coach Claude Julien realized how good Marchand, Smith and Seguin could be, he put them on a line with center Patrice Bergeron so they would become even better.

That's how much Julien appreciates and trusts Bergeron, who was named as a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Thursday along with Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar.

Bergeron and the Bruins play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D). The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Bergeron won the Selke Trophy in 2012 and this is his third straight season he's been nominated as a finalist. He was third in the NHL in faceoff percentage (.586), second in plus-minus (plus-38), and had 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points playing primarily against the opposition's top lines.

"Anybody that plays with him and sees his work ethic doesn't have a choice but to follow this guy," Julien said. "That just makes those players better. If we see a player that has skill and some potential, we know playing with Bergie that the other parts of his game will improve. That certainly is something we've always looked at."

Smith is the latest success story.

He came to the Bruins with Loui Eriksson in the trade that sent Seguin to the Dallas Stars. The plan was for Eriksson to replace Seguin on a line with Bergeron and Marchand.

However, Marchand struggled early in the season, giving Smith his first crack at playing with Bergeron. Marchand turned his game around, but Eriksson went down with his second concussion of the season in early December, giving Smith another chance to play with Bergeron.

He took advantage, with 20 goals and 51 points in 82 games. Smith credited Bergeron.

"He's helped me tons," Smith said. "You learn something new from Bergie every day. It's been great for me as a young player to be able to play with someone like that and pick up lessons along the way."

Such as?

"Never be satisfied, keep on pushing," Smith said. "He's a guy that if it's the first shift of the game or the last shift of the game and we're up by a couple of goals, he's out there blocking shots, trying to win faceoffs. Every second he's out there he doesn't leave anything to chance, he gives it his all. It goes a long way."

Bergeron said he enjoys playing with the younger players because it keeps him young.

"They've been a huge part of helping me play a two-way game," Bergeron, 28, said.

Julien said he was proud Bergeron was again nominated as a Selke Trophy finalist because "he's well-deserving of that, has been for years now."

"I can't find a better candidate than him," Julien added. "We'll see how it goes, but in our regards he's been the best."


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