Bergeron’s last six games have been a pointless exercise
For most of this season, Patrice Bergeron has been the Bruins’ most important and consistent forward.
In January, he was the NHL’s First Star of the Month. In 14 games, Bergeron had a league-best 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists). He had four straight multi-point games. On Jan. 11, he recorded his first career hat trick in a 6-0 thumping of Ottawa.
For two months, Bergeron had been the engine of the No. 2 line, the Bruins’ sharpest two-way trio.
But in his last six games, Bergeron has been a nonfactor on offense. He has logged six straight 0-0—0 efforts.
Bergeron’s fade has had a significant impact. The Bruins are winless in their last four games (0-2-2). The line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Mark Recchi, once the longest-lasting threesome, is no more. The first line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton has assumed virtually all of the team’s offensive presence.
Friday night at Nassau Coliseum, Bergeron spent part of the third period centering Lucic and Rich Peverley. One game earlier, Recchi had been yanked from the second line.
The idea was that with Peverley’s speed and shoot-first approach, the ex-Thrasher and Bergeron might develop some chemistry. Lucic was on the line because Marchand had been benched for the entire third period. Late in the second, Marchand took an interference penalty on Josh Bailey that led to the Islanders’ game-changing power-play goal.
“We’ve just got to find our game again,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We’ve been off our game. We talk about being in synch, moving the puck better, making things happen. We seem a little out of synch right now.
“That’s a simple way of saying it. We just don’t seem to be clicking right now. The plays aren’t coming as easily as they did in the past.’’
Blue line help While their teammates went through off-ice workouts at Nassau Coliseum Friday, Andrew Ference and Shane Hnidy skated at Ristuccia Arena. The same day, Steven Kampfer rode a stationary bike at the practice rink.
The return of the three defensemen will be most welcome.
Closest of the group is Ference, out since Feb. 26 when he suffered a knee-on-knee hit from Victor Oreskovich. Ference could practice with his teammates today for the first time since suffering the injury.
Assuming no setbacks, Ference could be in the lineup Tuesday against Columbus. There is a spot for him, as Matt Bartkowski, the 22-year-old rookie who’s proving to be greener than a Granny Smith, was assigned to Providence yesterday after logging only 4:42 of ice time Friday.
Hnidy, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, could be available later this month. Given the nature of concussions, Kampfer’s return date is unclear.
“A little bit of stability and familiarity of playing with certain guys would help our back end,’’ Julien said.
Third men in Before Zdeno Chara busted an 0-for-21 power-play skid with a five-on-three goal Friday, the coaching staff tried a new look. Instead of rolling out the traditional two units, they went with three forward lines on the power play. On two occasions, the third unit of Recchi, Chris Kelly, and Michael Ryder set up in the offensive zone.
Kelly, a defensive center, saw 1:44 of power-play time. In Ottawa, Kelly averaged only 10 seconds of PP time per game.
“We put three power plays together linewise the other day,’’ Julien said. “When we were practicing it, they had four goals in practice and seemed to be moving it around fairly well. Sometimes you need a little more grit than skill.
“Right now, it’s competing a little bit to see who can create the most on the power play.’’
Leaving town The Bruins were given yesterday off. They will practice today and tomorrow at Ristuccia before leaving town for a three-game trip (Columbus, Nashville, and Toronto) . . . Tomas Kaberle has landed only eight shots in his 10 games as a Bruin. Because of Kaberle’s reluctance to shoot, penalty-killers are overloading on Chara, anticipating the captain’s one-timer . . . With their win Friday, the Islanders have 27 points since the beginning of February. During that same time, the Bruins have 22. Hard to believe that interim coach Jack Capuano won’t get the full-time gig.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.