As the Bruins enter the All-Star Break, they’ll have to brace for a four-game stretch without their point-per-game winger. Brad Marchand began serving his five-game suspension on Thursday night, and even though his presence creates a huge hole in the Bruins’ lineup, they won anyway against the lowly Senators. And like they have for so many years, they continue to thrive on the strength of their rock in the middle, Patrice Bergeron.
No. 37 has always been a premier three-zone player in the NHL, but with the emergence of both Marchand and David Pastrnak as high-end scoring threats, Bergeron has also taken his offensive game to another level.
A four-time Selke winner and a point-per-game offensive force? That might be Bergeron’s new reality.
He reached the point-per-game mark with his two-assist performance in Thursday’s win in Ottawa, notching two assists. Bergeron is now up to 42 points in 42 games, on pace for 37 goals and 40 assists in 77 possible contests.
Bergeron, who has 713 career points in 941 career games, has never averaged a point per game in any season. But he certainly has a chance to reach the 70-point mark for the first time since the 2006-07 season. That’s when he potted 22 goals to go with 48 assists – and a minus-28 rating.
Naturally, Bergeron’s plus-minus never dipped below zero after that. He’s a plus-178 over the past 10-plus seasons, and now his offense is catching back up to his elite two-way ability. And he showed his value in the Bruins’ win on Thursday night with his pair of assists.
First, he kept the play alive in the offensive zone with perfect positioning to send it deep for David Pastrnak, whose pass attempt to Danton Heinen popped in the air. Heinen batted the puck into the net for the power play goal, a score that doesn’t happen without Bergeron’s save.
Bergeron also made Tim Schaller’s third-period shorthanded goal possible. He beat the lightning-quick Erik Karlsson to a loose puck and smacked it just enough for Schaller to end up alone with Condon. And of course, Schaller finished it off:
It’s taken a massive offensive surge for Bergeron to get to the point-per-game mark. He’s scored at least one in 10 of his last 11 games, netting 10 goals and 8 assists to go with a plus-10 in that span.
Obviously, Bergeron can still be a dominant player even if his scoring slows down. His defense, penalty-killing, and faceoffs are always reliable (although he only won 42 percent of faceoffs on Thursday). But for him to be producing like this indicates that he could be one of the league’s most dominant players period down the stretch for the Bruins. He’s already tough to play against when you have the puck, but a whole different threat when he’s dominating with the puck as well.
That the Bruins just continue to surge (14-0-4 in their last 18 games) and extend their historic point streak without Marchand and Charlie McAvoy is still a bit stunning. But considering how all-around dangerous Bergeron has been lately, especially on the scoresheet, perhaps they can keep it going even through Marchand’s suspension. He showed on Thursday that as long as he’s in the lineup, the Bruins still have an elite talent to lean on.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.