In Game 7 against Toronto, Patrice Bergeron scored the two most critical goals of 2013. Bergeron netted the tying goal in the final minute of regulation, and in overtime, he busted a 4-4 tie to launch the Bruins into the second round.
Bergeron’s defensive play has been equally important to the Bruins, and on Wednesday, he was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews are the other finalists. Bergeron won the award last season for the first time in his career.
“It’s a nice honor just to be nominated with two great players like Datsyuk and Toews,” Bergeron said after practice at TD Garden. “Right now, there’s a lot more at task in the playoffs. I’m just worrying about that. It’s about tomorrow’s game. But it’s nice just to be nominated.”
Bergeron centered Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin for most of the regular season. They were often tapped for matchup duty against opposing top lines.
Bergeron was the NHL’s best faceoff man, winning 62.1 percent of his draws. Coach Claude Julien regularly used Bergeron for defensive-zone draws even when his line was on the bench. Once Bergeron won the faceoff, he would return to the bench. During late-game situations when the Bruins were ahead, Bergeron would often be on the ice for the final minute.
Bergeron averaged 2:12 of shorthanded ice time per game, second among Boston forwards after Chris Kelly (2:17). The Bruins had the fourth-best penalty kill in the NHL (87.1 percent).
“This guy here is so good at both ends of the ice,” Julien said. “He keeps proving it year after year. There’s not too many guys in this league that can do what Patrice does. You saw him scoring those goals the other night.
“We’ve talked about Zdeno [Chara] playing against top players on other teams. So does he, for the most part. At the end of every year, he’s always a plus player, so that tells you a lot about his utility and how valuable this guy is to our team.”
Jaromir Jagr practiced with Bergeron and Marchand on the second line while Seguin practiced on the third line with Kelly and Rich Peverley. Jagr played most of Game 7 against Toronto with Bergeron and Marchand.
The Bruins continue to search for a proper fit for Jagr. The right wing had some good shifts with Kelly and Peverley in Game 3, but Julien promoted him because the second line hadn’t scored an even-strength goal through six games.
“He’s a player that plays his style,” Julien said. “You’ve got to be able to read off him. I thought those guys did a pretty good. At the end of the night, the winning goal is with the same old three guys together.
“So you’re working both situations. It gives me the luxury to move guys around if I need to. Depending on what happens in the next game and in the series, I’ll continue to look at that.”
On March 27, the Bruins recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence because they believed they had traded Matt Bartkowski as part of a deal with the Flames for Jarome Iginla. That night against Montreal, Bartkowski was a healthy scratch and Krug made his season debut.
On Thursday, both defensemen could be in the Boston lineup.
Following the nixed Iginla trade, Bartkowski has made the most of his second chance. He scored his first career goal and logged 24:51 of ice time against Toronto in Game 7. Bartkowski projects to be on the second pairing against the Rangers.
Krug, recalled Tuesday, could make his playoff debut in Game 1. The left-shot defenseman is coming off seven playoff games with Providence. After losing two games to Hershey in the first round, Providence rallied for three straight wins to advance and then took a 2-0 series lead over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Krug practiced with Adam McQuaid and manned the point alongside Dougie Hamilton on the No. 2 power-play unit.
“I think with big-pressure games, you don’t treat it any differently,” Krug said. “If you treat it differently, you psych yourself out. You’re not going to play your game.
“I think it’s just another game where you’ve got to be a professional. You see guys up here like Bergeron and Chara that treat every game the same way, no matter how big the stakes. It’s just another opportunity to be a professional.”
Jagr played with Henrik Lundqvist on Broadway from 2005-08. “It’s very tough to score on him,” Jagr said. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. He goes, the team goes. It’s always been like that, even when I was there. He was the most important guy on that team.” Jagr was also teammates with current Rangers Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal . . . Kaspars Daugavins, Jay Pandolfo, Carl Soderberg, and Aaron Johnson project to be the Game 1 healthy scratches for Boston . . . The Bruins concluded their practice by getting shots on net from the point. Pandolfo served as a shot blocker, while Gregory Campbell set up in front of the net to tip pucks. Each defenseman tried to shoot around Pandolfo from the blue line.
Game 7 rates highly
The Bruins’ victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 7 ranks on a very short list of the most exciting games ever televised on NESN. Not surprisingly, it also ranks among the highest-rated. The game earned a 16.8 rating and a 26 share in the Boston market — the third-highest-rated Bruins game on NESN since the network’s inception in 1984. The highest remains Game 7 of last year’s first-round series with the Capitals, which earned a 19.6. Second is Game 7 of the first-round series with the Canadiens in 2011, which had a 17.7. NESN’s game coverage during the seven-game Toronto series averaged a 11.7 rating.