It’s hard to find a forward who has done more with less on the Boston Bruins’ roster than Patrice Bergeron.
Just 25 years old, Bergeron has long played a game beyond his years. Taken in the second round of the 2003 draft, he did something that even most top-10 selections struggle to do, making the Boston Bruins as an 18-year old in 2003-04. He scored 16 goals and finished with 39 points and a plus-5 rating. In a seven-season NHL career, he’s been a minus player just once.
Bergeron’s NHL career has not been without interruption. In 2005-06, he played for Providence of the AHL and for Team Canada at the World Juniors while the NHL lockout disrupted league play; he finished with just under a point-per-game in the former and recorded 13 points in six games in the latter.
The second interruption was more serious: Bergeron sustained a broken nose and was knocked unconscious on a hit thrown by Randy Jones; the concussion he sustained cost him 72 games. Another concussion sustained in these playoffs cost him the first two games of Boston’s series against Tampa Bay.
Bergeron had always been a good offensive player, and he scored 70+ points in both his second and third NHL seasons. Since coming back from that first severe concussion, though, he has established himself as one of the game’s premiere defensive forwards. That reputation earned him a spot on Canada’s gold-medal winning entry at the 2010 Olympics.
It’s a reputation that Bergeron has lived up to over Boston’s playoff run.
First, there’s Bergeron’s work in the faceoff circle. Bergeron has won 231 of 371 post-season draws, good for a 62.3% win rate. Despite those two missed games, 371 face-offs is the fourth-most in these playoffs, and of the 39 players to take more than 100 draws, only Washington’s Boyd Gordon (68.8% on 112 face-offs) has a better winning percentage.
It’s particularly impressive to note Bergeron’s faceoff work while Boston has been short-handed. Typically, the extra skater gives teams on the power play the advantage in the faceoff dot, but Bergeron has won 66.7% of his penalty-killing face-offs.
Winning face-offs isn’t the only thing that Bergeron does well while short-handed. The Bruins’ penalty-kill hasn’t been especially impressive this post-season, but he leads all regular forwards with a minus-1 rating while down a man. He has also scored a goal short-handed.
Even-strength is where Bergeron really shines, though. Eleven of Boston’s 13 regular forwards have been on the ice for more offensive than defensive zone draws at even-strength: Bergeron and Gregory Campbell are the lone exceptions. Despite being used as Boston’s top defensive zone specialist, Bergeron has found ways to contribute offensively: his 14 even-strength points lead the team. His 3.50 PTS/60 is also near the top of the team; only Tyler Seguin has been more likely to score on any given even-strength shift. Bergeron’s possession numbers are also among the best on the team.
In a lot of ways, Bergeron is to Boston as Ryan Kesler has been to Vancouver over these playoffs: a superb defensive player who has also been one of his’ team’s primary offensive weapons. He’s been the Bruins’ best forward through three rounds.