Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Bruins' Bergeron mirror image of Kesler

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Despite missing some of the playoffs due to a mild concussion, Patrice Bergeron is still third on the Bruins in playoff scoring.  (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Despite missing some of the playoffs due to a mild concussion, Patrice Bergeron is still third on the Bruins in playoff scoring. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
He is his club's No. 2 centre. He is an alternate captain. He is a right-shot pivot. He plays in all situations. He is one of the league's best faceoff men. He participated in the Olympics last year in Vancouver.

He is Patrice Bergeron, Boston's mirror image of Ryan Kesler.

"They like Kesler that much," bruins coach Claude Julien said of No. 17's importance to Vancouver.

"Bergeron, to us, is what Kesler is to them," he said. He brings the same elements. He shows up, plays hard every game. He's a great faceoff guy, power play, penalty kill, does it all for us. For people that don't see him that much, they just have to look at the player they see a little bit more. They're going to understand what we have here in Bergeron."

In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Bergeron and the Bruins got an unfortunate scare. In the third period, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux hammered Bergeron with a clean -- perhaps it was a hair late -- open-ice hit. Bergeron hit the deck, then skated off the ice, not to be seen again until Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.

Bergeron suffered a concussion, the third of his career. He knew that it was a mild one. The symptoms (headaches, sensitivity to light) went away quickly, unlike with his first one in 2007, which ended his season.

Given his history, there was no certainty that Bergeron would be able to resume playing this season. But Bergeron started skating, took contact after one morning skate, then was available to play two days later in Game 3.

Since then, Bergeron has shown no signs of a player who missed any time with an injury -- a serious one, at that. In 16 playoff games, Bergeron has four goals and 11 assists for 15 points, trailing only David Krejci and Nathan Horton for the team lead.

Bergeron is averaging 19:09 of ice time per game, second-most among team forwards behind Krejci. He has been monstrous in the faceoff circle, where he's won 62.3 percent of his drops.

"Obviously very happy, very proud of what we've accomplished as a team so far and how far we've come," Bergeron said. "We came back and showed some character all playoffs, but also all season. For me, being it's my eighth year in Boston and having a chance to share that with the city, it's something special for me."

Horton blossoms into go-to gun

Before this season, Horton spent six seasons in Sunrise, Fla., where he appeared in 422 regular-season games for the Panthers. Not surprisingly, given the state of the Florida franchise, Horton didn't play in a single playoff game.

This year, Horton has made the most of his post-season debut. Horton is tied with Krejci, his trusted centreman, for the team lead in points (8 G, 9A, 17 PTS).

In the first round against Montreal, Horton scored the overtime winner in Game 7. In the Eastern Conference final, Horton netted the only goal in the Bruins' 1-0 Game 7 win over Tampa Bay.

"It's definitely special for me to be able to do that and help my team win," Horton said. "There's nothing like scoring in overtime or a game-winner to move on to the next round. It's definitely hard to describe how good of a feeling that is."

Horton and top-line mates Krejci and Milan Lucic will be sure to see plenty of Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa starting in Game 1.

In the first round, Montreal rolled out Hal Gill and P.K. Subban to neutralize the top pairing. In the second round, Philadelphia's Chris Pronger and Matt Carle were matched against Horton and friends. When Pronger was hurt early, the Flyers never had an effective shutdown duo to counter the first line.

In the Eastern Conference final, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher tabbed Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund to go head-to-head with the first line. On the Game 7 winner, Krejci and Horton connected to beat Brewer, Ohlund, and Dwayne Roloson in the third period.

"You want to contribute as much as you can to your team and help your team win," Horton said. "You do what you can. It's been going good. But you know, in the end, it really doesn't matter about points. You want to contribute. Every player on the team is a little piece of the puzzle. I don't think anything can happen if everyone's not going."

Lineup tweak

Rich Peverley was the fourth skater on the second line alongside Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi today. Peverley had been on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.

The move indicates that Peverley could spell Recchi at times like he did in Game 7 against Tampa Bay.