The Boston Bruins embarked on their best stretch of the season amid turbulent times. Yet, even they encountered a few hiccups along the way of their recent 4-1-2 run.
One area, in particular, provided some concern involving Patrice Bergeron.
Several opponents took notice of Boston’s roster turnover during the last few seasons. Because of that development, the Bruins witnessed their captain protecting himself on numerous encounters.
Granted, the Bruins didn’t witness an Alex Burrows-like moment with Bergeron. That 2011 Stanley Cup Winning squad certainly took exception to Burrows biting Bergeron’s glove in Game 1 of the Final. Any opponent who ran at Bergeron, Nathan Horton, David Krejci or any other marquee talent found themselves answering to Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid or even Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand during that early 2010s timeframe.
The game’s evolution toward a more skilled-based product provided fewer chances for enforcers like Thornton to crack a nightly NHL lineup. The Bruins also evolved with the times, drafting and developing the likes of Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak after saying goodbye to Thornton, Chara, McQuaid, David Krejci, Torey Krug and Andrew Ference among others.
The Bruins did nothing to protect Bergeron after the fact. Perhaps they were afraid to commit a penalty in each instance. After all, they held a slim lead against the Predators and found themselves tied in the third period of a 1-1 hockey game against the Canucks.
But sometimes, the scoreboard needs to take a back seat. It’s not like the Bruins don’t have the capability to do so. They could turn to a heavy physical specimen like Trent Frederic or a battle-tested veteran like Nick Foligno to protect Bergeron.
Frederic admitted the need to protect their captain following Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
“You don’t want to lose two points,” Frederic told reporters. “But then again, it’s Bergy, and you have to stick up for him — and we probably should’ve done more there. Any time someone like that gets hit, we need to do something…”
Bergeron isn’t shy handling his end of the bargain when needbe. Even as he donned a fishbowl following a broken nose, Bergeron more than held his own in Vancouver last Wednesday following Burroughs’ cross-check.
Barring an unlikely Stanley Cup Final matchup, the Bruins won’t face Burroughs and the Canucks again until the 2022-23 campaign. They will face Forsberg, Roman Josi and the Predators once more, this time at TD Garden on Jan. 15.
No matter the opponent, the Bruins need to come to the captain’s aid whenever he finds himself in turmoil. It doesn’t have to turn into an olde time hockey donnybrook. But Frederic and company know they’ll need a timely response against anyone attempting to get under Bergeron’s skin.
“That Forsberg hit was pretty dirty. It’s hard sometimes because I don’t get to play Forsberg, obviously, so I have to go out and hit a guy like Josi. That’s pretty much what I can do,” Frederic added. “But when you see a play like that, you try to take a number and get him in the future.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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