As the Boston Bruins training camp got underway, it was learned that Patrice Bergeron had hit a snag in his recovery from his offseason groin surgery in the form of some back spasms. As a result, the four-time Selke Trophy winner hit the ice in a game situation for the first time when the Bruins lost to the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals at the Capitals home opener on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. The Bruins responded to that 7-0 loss by beating the Buffalo Sabres the following night in Buffalo, by shutting the Sabres out 4-0, in which Bergeron got a goal and assist.
For the Bruins, their own home opener came Monday, October 8, 2018, amidst all the pageantry of announcing the Boston Bruins roster followed by a ceremonial puck drop by Special Olympics before taking on the Ottawa Senators. Sometimes those emotional starts can result in a deflation with the Bruins, but thirty seconds in and the Bruins were on the scoreboard off the stick of Bergeron. Bergeron wasn’t done there. As the teams left the ice for the first intermission the Bruins were up 2-0, and Bergeron had his second of the game, a power play goal at 17:12.
The second period wasn’t the Bruins strongest to be certain, as they were outshot 12-6 in the middle frame. Ryan Dzingel got Ottawa on the board 2:21 into the period, cutting the Bruins lead in half. But Walpole native, Chris Wagner, with a deflection off a Charlie McAvoy shot from the point, at 7:08, gave the Bruins a little room. It was the first goal for Wagner wearing the black and gold—something he called surreal. Dzingel was doing his best to keep his team in the game, as he notched his second of the game approximately five minutes later. As the buzzer ended the period, the Bruins were still ahead 3-2, but the shots on goal were now even at 21 through two periods.
Before the clock had ticked down five minutes of the final period, Bergeron had his third goal—the fourth hat trick of his career and the third of the 2018 calendar year—and the hats were flying. And the two-way center wasn’t done yet. With 3:29 remaining in regulation, he helped Pastrnak put one in the back of the net to put the team up 5-2, which earned Bergeron a four point night. While the Senators struck back thirty seconds later, to make it 5-3, Pastrnak’s second of the night into the empty net at 18:22 sealed the win for the Bruins.
Bergeron, who turned 33 in July, hadn’t played all summer long. He hadn’t been able to get into any of the preseason games, and just three games into the season, he has four goals and two assists for six points. Imagine what he’d be doing if he did have his offseason opportunities?
“I’ve been impressed with everything [Bergeron] does to be honest with you,” Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “He plays at both ends. We use him in every situation, so good for him to get us going on time tonight.”
Bergeron’s focus and drive on the ice to be the best he can game in and game out truly does resonate with his teammates. They recognize what they have in him and are thankful that he plays with them instead of against them.
“You know, it’s crazy. He can take time off and always show up and be one of the best players on the ice. Even though he says he feels off, he’s always really good. He’s a big player for us and it was another big night for him,” Pastrnak offered.
“Yeah, he’s just impressive. He’s a competitor. He takes a lot of pride in his game. For him to miss the amount of time he missed this summer, and missing preseason, it’s incredible what he’s able to do. Another reason why he’s such a great leader… He wants to be the best player on the ice every night and he puts a lot of pressure on himself to be really good. He doesn’t give himself excuses,” Brad Marchand shared.
Bergeron is good. If anyone doubted that all they need do is look at his statistics and the number of Selke trophies he has. Monday’s game saw three of his four shots on goal end up in the back of the net. He was 58% in the faceoff dot, winning 14 of 24 draws. He didn’t have a single give away. He also wasn’t happy with the delay of game penalty he took that offered the Senators a lengthy five-on-three opportunity, but his team had his back.
So, hats off to the hat trick and to that third goal of his being the game-winning goal.
The Bruins return to TD Garden on Thursday night, October 11, 2018, when they will take on the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 8, 2018