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Fluto Shinzawa | On hockey

Patrice Bergeron in top form for Bruins now

Patrice Bergeron tossed a souvenir stick to a serviceman in the crowd after Monday’s game. Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

As usual, Patrice Bergeron was not thinking offense.

Late in the first period, with the score tied at 1-1, Dougie Hamilton dumped the puck into the offensive zone. New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson fished the puck out of the corner and started the breakout. Brad Marchand was the first forechecker in to apply heat on Larsson.

Bergeron was F2, hovering on the other side, ready to seal off the play if Larsson went D-to-D to Eric Gelinas.

That’s exactly what Larsson did. And when Gelinas couldn’t haul in Larsson’s pass, Bergeron was in the right spot to hop on the bobble, race in on net, and snap the puck five-hole on Cory Schneider at 17:16 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.


“I’m trying to be aggressive as F2,” Bergeron explained. “I was lucky enough to get that puck and go quick five-hole.”

The Bruins beat the Devils, 4-2, Monday night at TD Garden to gain their fifth straight win. Bergeron scored a goal and had two assists for his first three-point night of the year. It was yet another good game for Bergeron, Marchand, and Reilly Smith, who look like they’re back to their 2013-14 form as a thorough, efficient, and productive three-zone line.

“You’re seeing a lot of good chemistry coming back that you saw last year,” coach Claude Julien said. “They’re finding each other. They seem to be more in synch, not getting caught in some deep areas with three guys. They’re reading off each other well.”

Bergeron’s emergence is driving the line’s play.

There was a stretch earlier this year when Bergeron wasn’t playing like Bergeron. He was a tick off in all areas – skating, timing, thinking, even confidence.

None of those qualities is missing now.

Bergeron (three shots in 17:19, most ice time of any forward) played one of his trademark 200-foot games. The strength of his style is how he turns defense into offense. In this way, Bergeron is the personification of his coach’s philosophy. Bergeron is almost always exquisitely placed, with his stick or body in the right spot to slam the door shut on any offensive chance.


What makes Bergeron and his linemates dangerous is the speed with which they go on the attack. Before the Devils knew they had coughed up the puck, Bergeron and his boys were flying the other way.

This happened on Bergeron’s goal. Larsson tried to recover after Gelinas’s turnover. But before Larsson could close off the opportunity, Bergeron had placed the puck behind Schneider.

In the second, the line was on defense when the Devils initiated a breakout. Marchand’s aggressive forecheck forced the Devils to turn the puck over. Immediately, Marchand’s linemates went into action.

Smith shuttled the puck down the right-side wall for Bergeron. As Bryce Salvador approached to take away Bergeron’s options, the center snapped a pass across his body to Smith in the slot. Smith whipped the puck past Schneider at 19:21 to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead.

“When Patrice gets the puck, I just let him do his thing,” Smith said. “Sometimes you can call for the puck and you put someone out of their groove a little bit, because it’s not their first play. But Bergy has eyes in the back of his head. I just trust him to make the right play all the time.”


It wasn’t a perfect night for Bergeron’s line. They had the assignment of matching up against New Jersey’s power line of Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, and Jaromir Jagr.

Zajac scored at 1:26 of the first off a broken play. In the second, after Zajac drew defenders by curling around the net, Jagr took his center’s feed and whipped a shot far side on Tuukka Rask at 13:00 to tie the game, 2-2. It was one of Jagr’s game-high six shots on goal. Nobody on Bergeron’s line has the bulk to do battle with the 42-year-old Jagr, who remains one of the league’s more dangerous and unique scoring wings. Jagr and his linemates carried the play for most of the third.

“They’re a good line,” Bergeron said. “Any time you’re playing a big line, it’s always a great challenge. They were playing well. We know Jags is always making great plays and is a smart player. It’s not just about him. It’s about where his linemates are on the ice, because he’s going to find them.”

But Bergeron and his linemates didn’t sink their heads after New Jersey’s goals. That’s what they did earlier this season when they weren’t playing well. Once they lost their confidence, things got worse. Even the defending Selke Trophy winner doubts his stuff when opponents are scoring and his team is not.

This was the third straight game in which Bergeron’s line was the Bruins’ best threesome. Last Tuesday against Florida, Bergeron and Marchand scored in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida. On Thursday, while the other lines flickered for 40-plus minutes against Edmonton, Bergeron’s group held them in until the Bruins exploded for four straight in the third.


“The puck’s going in. Plain and simple,” Bergeron said. “You do that, you get some confidence and you get on a roll. For us, it’s about not just offensively, but really about, in our zone, taking care of the puck and creating some offense out of it. We have to keep doing that if we want to be successful. We all know that. Me, Brad, and Reilly have been doing that last year. We’ve got to keep doing the same thing.”

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.