Bergeron pulls double duty

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 1, 2012
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. - In Claude Julien’s defensive system, there is no room for cherry-pickers, especially if you’re a center.

The job demands flawless positioning, usually deep in the defensive zone. Only once the puck is out of the zone can the center, his defensive duties complete, skate the other way.

Yet Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins’ best defensive center, is the club’s No. 2 scorer.

“With our system, the centerman’s not blowing the zone or cheating, things like that,’’ said fellow center Chris Kelly. “A lot of the time, you’re the last one out of the zone or the second one out of the zone. He still manages to create a lot of offense in this system.’’

Kelly understands the defensive demands better than most. The Bruins acquired him from Ottawa last season primarily because of his acumen in the defensive zone. But even Kelly sometimes marvels at how efficiently Bergeron does his defensive job first, then contributes offensively.

“He’s the best two-way player in the game,’’ Kelly said. “I get to see him on a daily basis. I think I’m a better player just by getting the opportunity to play with him.’’

Such praise is why Bergeron could be in line for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL forward who best excels in the game’s defensive aspects. Julien often deploys Bergeron against the opposing top line, as he did in Saturday’s 6-3 win against the Islanders’ top threesome of P.A. Parenteau, John Tavares, and Matt Moulson. Bergeron was not on the ice for any of the Islanders’ three goals.

Bergeron is the NHL’s faceoff king, having won a league-high 936 draws for a 59.2 percent success rate. Bergeron won 13 of 21 faceoffs on Saturday. He averages 1:49 of shorthanded ice time per game, most of any Boston forward.

Other Selke candidates include Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards of the Kings, the Blues’ David Backes, and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.

For all that, the Selke barely registers on Bergeron’s radar. He barely knows the name of the award.

“It’s nice to hear, because I guess I’m doing some things right,’’ Bergeron said. “All those individual awards come down to your teammates. It’s about the team.

“Last year was the ultimate prize that we won together. I’d trade that any year for a Selke or whatever it is.

“It’s nice, because it means I’m doing my job the way I want to do it. I’ve just got to keep doing it.’’

Playing it safe

Dennis Seidenberg missed his second straight game because of an infected cut on his left leg. The Bruins are not willing to take any chances on it getting worse.

“He’s on the right track,’’ said Julien. “But we clinched [Friday] night. This isn’t a time to take any kind of chance. As long as there’s a minor, minor chance of reinfecting it, we’re going to stay away from him.’’

With Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid (eye) unavailable, Mike Mottau joined the blue line six-pack. Mottau had last played March 10. The former Islander had been a healthy scratch for the last 10 games. Mottau, skating mostly with Joe Corvo, had one shot in 16:57 of ice time.

Hitting the mark

At 4:58 of the second period, Kelly beat Islanders goalie Al Montoya for his 20th goal of the season.

“It’s nice to get that kind of milestone,’’ Kelly said. “I’ve never scored 20 in the NHL. I’m a perfect example of a product of being on a good team. Everyone plays hard, plays together, and plays for one another.’’

Kelly hit the post in the first period. The third-line center had two shots and won 8 of 12 faceoffs in 14:11 of action.

Traveling party

Pockets of Bruins fans filled Nassau Coliseum to enjoy Saturday’s win. The crowd was especially boisterous late in regulation, when most of the New York faithful had left their seats. “That was pretty cool,’’ Julien said. “You could see at the beginning of the game that we had a lot of fans here for our hockey club. We noticed that at our team hotel, too, the last couple days. That’s what happens when you sell out in your own building. You’ve got people that want to come see your team. This is an opportunity to drive down here, come into a building, and watch your team play.’’ . . . Gregory Campbell and Micheal Haley engaged in a second-period dustup. Haley landed several pops and recorded the takedown . . . The line of Parenteau, Tavares, and Moulson connected for two of the Islanders’ three goals, giving them 83 of the team’s 186. “This team we played today is a young team, but it’s a very good team offensively,’’ said Julien. “It’s a very potent team. They proved it again. They created chances and made things happen. I’m sure with experience, they’re going to be one of the better teams in the league.’’ . . . Saturday’s goalie matchup of Montoya and Marty Turco featured two University of Michigan alums . . . Tim Thomas should get the start Sunday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

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

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