DETROIT — There were other things on Patrice Bergeron’s mind Thursday morning. He was focused on Game 4, not on NHL awards.
But Bergeron, while deflecting credit to his teammates, acknowledged that it was “a huge honor” to be named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward.
It’s the third consecutive year Bergeron has been named a finalist for the award, which he won in 2012.
The other two finalists are Anze Kopitar of the Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks.
“It goes to the help of all my teammates, definitely,” said Bergeron. “There’s no individual awards that don’t [need] the help of all your teammates, so that’s all I can really say.”
Bergeron’s coach and teammates, though, were willing to say more.
“He makes you proud because he’s well-deserving of that. He has been for years now,” said coach Claude Julien. “Always up there in plus/minus, always plays against top players, produces, got 30 goals this year, and that’s playing against top lines.
“I can’t find a better candidate than him, and certainly deserves the nomination. We’ll see where it goes, but in our regard he’s been the best.”
Said Reilly Smith, who has played on Bergeron’s line for much of the season, “It’s unbelievable. He’s been great all year. You can’t say enough about his character and his leadership inside the dressing room, as well. It’s well-deserved.”
Bergeron finished the regular season ranked third in the NHL in faceoff percentage (58.6), having taken the most draws in the league. He also finished second in the NHL in plus/minus at plus-38, one behind teammate David Krejci. Bergeron also reached the 30-goal mark for the second time in his career and added 32 assists.
“I feel like the complete game is something that I take a lot of pride in and I’m trying to work on,” Bergeron said. “This year, obviously I got the bounces offensively, but that being said it doesn’t mean that I let the defensive part of the game out. I try to improve in a lot of areas.
“I think coaches are doing a great job of showing me some videos with my stick in the right position on the [penalty kill] or whatnot. So, I think you definitely improve every time you put some work into it.”
The second missed chance was the one that really bugged Brad Marchand. Though he hadn’t been able to convert a first-period opportunity on Jonas Gustavsson with a wide-open net, the third-period chance was the one that left him shaking his head as he went back to the bench.
Gustavsson had come out to challenge Torey Krug, who had the puck on the left side. But Krug fed Marchand to the right of the goal mouth — and the winger misfired wide left.
“I think I’m going to try to stay out of the scrums the rest of the series and just worry about playing,” said Marchand, who has no points in the series. “I might be focusing a little too much on other stuff, and that’s why I’m missing my opportunities. I think I want to help the team more on the scoresheet than in other ways.”
Marchand acknowledged being frustrated, and was overjoyed that he was saved when the Bruins won the game in overtime on a bounce off the leg of Danny DeKeyser.
But, he said, “You don’t want to dwell on it too much. You want to stick with it and stay positive and worry about getting the next one. That’s all I can really do now is try to bear down. And next time I have a wide-open net, hit it.”
Daniel Paille was on the ice for the morning skate but did not take line rushes. Jordan Caron remained on the fourth line. Paille has been out since suffering an apparent head injury April 12. “He was cleared to practice with us here,” Julien said. “I think he’s cleared to start getting a little bit of contact. Not in tonight, but he’s inching toward the right side, I would say.” There was no update on Chris Kelly, who has not been on the ice since suffering a back injury April 8. Julien said at the time he was confident Kelly would be back for the playoffs.
Not their concern
Julien said the Bruins didn’t worry about whether Henrik Zetterberg would return from back surgery and play in Game 4. “We can’t just worry about one player,” Julien said. “In my mind, he’s going to be there. We expected that, so that’s not a concern.” Zetterberg did return . . . Brendan Smith got a chance to see younger brother Reilly register his first playoff point, a goal on Sunday in Game 2 in Boston. And he couldn’t help poking fun at him.“I kind of razzed him a little bit after, how it was a tap-in goal. He almost came over the glass,” Brendan said . . . Andrej Meszaros was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Corey Potter also was scratched . . . Julien coached his 100th playoff game.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.