If the Bruins (29-17-7) could go into a laboratory and create the perfect player for today’s NHL, odds are that he would not be all that different from center Patrice Bergeron (18 goals, 28 assists in 37 games).
On Tuesday, he played in his 1000th NHL game and fittingly scored the first and last goal as Boston beat the Islanders (30-16-6) 3-1 at TD Garden.
Looking at the impressive number that Bergeron reached in that tilt, you start to understand the rarefied air that he’s now in for this Original Six franchise with hopefully many more productive seasons left to go.
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Who could have guessed in 2003 when the B’s selected the Quebec native in the second round (45th overall) that he would become such a model of consistency? He’s the 31st guy to play all of his career games (1000+) with one team and only the fifth Bruin to play 1,000-plus games in a Boston uniform, joining Ray Bourque (1,518), John Buyck (1,436), Don Sweeney (1,052) and Wayne Cashman (1,027).
Unless you are a die-hard hockey fan, Bergeron’s abundance of skills won’t immediately jump off the ice at you. However, when you watch many Bruins games, you are often struck by his almost comical lack of flaws or mistakes. He’s won four Selke Trophies and counting (tied for the most in NHL history)-given to the league’s best two-way forward. He always has one of the best faceoff win percentages in the league, he is incredibly tough (see the 2013 Stanley Cup Final vs. Chicago) and is also very clutch. So is there anything that he can’t do?
“He’s a consummate pro, terrific person, terrific hockey player, terrific dad and I assume a terrific husband,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy after Tuesday’s victory. “All of the above so I’m very happy that things worked out well for him today and I’m not surprised.”
Serious concussions nearly ended his professional career early on but since then, Bergeron has developed into the face of the Bruins. For the last couple of seasons, he’s anchored their deadly first line along with left wing Brad Marchand (19 goals, 40 assists) and right wing David Pastrnak (30 goals, 34 assists). Nagging injuries have forced him to miss 16 games already in this campaign but you still feel when Bergeron is in the lineup that the Bruins always have a good chance to win.
Marchand and Bergeron are close friends from their time with the Bruins along with playing for Team Canada together. At this point, nothing that Bergeron does can really surprise Marchand anymore. “Did you really expect anything else? That guy just steps up in every situation, you know that he’s going to have a big game on a milestone night like tonight. It was great to see, he’s one of the top players in the game and he steps up in big moments. He did that again tonight.”
Whenever he retires, Bergeron is a lock to have his number 37 retired in the Garden rafters and the more time goes by, the stronger his resume becomes for inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame as well. Regardless, he’s come a long way from the 18-year-old kid who made the jump right to the NHL and has never looked back on his way to becoming a Boston sports legend.