Julien: Bergeron "Makes You Proud"
BostonBruins.com - For the third straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named as a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, to the surprise of no one in Black & Gold.
"He makes you proud, because he's well-deserving of that. He has been for years now," Julien said on Thursday morning from Joe Louis Arena, where the Bruins were preparing for Game 4 against the Red Wings.
"Always up there in the plus-minus, always plays against top players, produces - he's got 30 goals this year and that's playing against top lines - so I can't find a better candidate than him, and certainly deserves the nomination. So from there, we’ll see where he goes, but in our regards, he’s been the best."
Bergeron shares the nomination with Chicago's Jonathan Toews and LA's Anze Kopitar.
"It's definitely a huge honor. I mean, it goes to the help of all of my teammates, definitely," said Bergeron. "There are no individual awards that don’t go without the help of all your teammates, so that's all I can really say."
The alternate captain paused for a second to smile, thinking to himself how minuscule it was to be talking about himself amidst a playoff run.
"I have other things on my mind right now, which is the playoffs."
We'll take the step back for Bergeron, though, to acknowledge why he's become a lock for the Selke every year (and why he won it in 2011-12).
He finished the 2013-14 regular season second in the League with a plus-minus rating of +38, just behind David Krejci (+39), and ended 66 of 80 games played with an even or positive rating.
The centerman's 1,015 faceoff wins led the NHL, and his faceoff winning percentage was third (58.6-percent). He's often tasked with defensive zone faceoffs, and serves as one of the Bruins' primary penalty killers.
Offensively, he put up his second career 30-goal season - his first since 2005-06 - and finished second on the Bruins with 62 points.
His stats are impressive, but could never fully depict his game.
"Of course, you hear a lot of good things about him," said Loui Eriksson, who saw him up close for the first time this season. "And at the same time, you can really see what he can bring to the game. Just an unbelievable player, and he makes smart plays out there all the time, so it’s pretty fun to watch him."
The Selke designates players who defy the odds. To be that good on defense, and still put up 30 goals against the opposing team's top players, is no walk in the park.
"Yeah no, it’s been unbelievable," said Eriksson. "It’s impressive to score 30 goals and playing against their top lines all the time. There’s always a lot of things you can say about him, he’s good at everything, and I’m glad to have him on the same team."
Reilly Smith has also seen Bergeron up close, as his centerman night in and night out.
"It’s unbelievable," said Smith. "He’s been great all year and you can’t say enough about his character and his leadership inside the dressing room as well, so it’s well deserved."
Smith's own two-way game has improved, and flourished, playing with Bergeron. That may be one of the leader's best assets, that he makes those around him better. It's impossible not to learn from him, on and off the ice.
It's one of the reasons that Julien has placed younger wingers like Smith on his line.
"Anybody who plays with him and sees his work ethic doesn’t have a choice but to follow this guy, and that just makes these players better," said Julien. "And if we see a player who’s got some skill and has got potential, and you put him with Bergy, you know that the other part of his game is going to improve just by playing with him."
"He’s helped me tons," said Smith. "You learn something new from Bergy every day, so it’s been great for me as a young player, to be able to play with someone like that, and you pick up little tidbits along the way."
'What did you learn today?' I asked him.
"It's still early in the day. Still many things to learn," he smiled.
What's the greatest lesson he's learned from Bergeron?
"Never be satisfied. Keep on pushing," said the winger. "He’s a guy who, if it’s the first shift of the game or the last shift of the game, up by a couple goals, he’s still out there blocking shots, trying to win faceoffs, so every second he’s out there, he does the right thing, so little things like that, you pick up, and it goes a long way."
Often, the 'little details' don't translate to a stat sheet, but those who get the privilege of watching Bergeron play notice them.
"That’s how I play," said Bergeron. "I think that’s the way I want to play the game and that’s the way I grew up playing it. So it does feel natural for me to play both sides of the ice."
"I’ve always been taught to play the game that way, both sides of the ice. Growing up in junior, my coaches put a lot of emphasis on that and I’ve tried to work on faceoffs as well. I came in the league and guys like Ted Donato and all the guys that were taking a lot of pride in that aspect of the game and helped me through it."
"And obviously with the coaching staff here right now, that’s something they put a lot of work on and I’m trying to get better at it."
Imagine an even better Bergeron?
That's what he's constantly shooting for every day, every game and every shift.
"Well, I think you’re always trying to work on things and I definitely feel like the complete game is something that I take a lot of pride in and I’m trying to work on," said Bergeron. "And I think this year, I mean obviously, I’ve got the bounces offensively but that being said, it doesn’t mean that I left the defensive part of the game out, so I’ve tried to improve in a lot of areas."
"I think coaches are doing a lot of showing me some videos with my stick in the right position on the PK or whatnot, so I think you definitely improve every time you put some work into it."