A few seasons before it was reasonably common for an 18-year-old player to make an immediate jump to the NHL, Patrice Bergeron accomplished that task in the 2003-04 season, scoring 39 points in 71 games. It’s honestly hard to believe that the six-year veteran is only 25 years old, especially when you consider the bumpy, concussion-plagued road he traveled.
Last year was a nice (if not spectacular) year for the two-way center as he made the 2010 Olympic team and helped the Boston Bruins make the playoffs despite Marc Savard’s injury problems. Still, you have to wonder if this might be his last season in Beantown; in fact, you never know if his $4.75 million cap hit and $5.75 million salary might make him expendable this season.
Team captain Zdeno Chara’s contract also expires after the season and Chiarelli has said he would like to retain both players. Bergeron is willing to talk during the season, but if his situation becomes a distraction to him or the team, he would rather wait until the offseason, he said.
“I never really thought about it, to be honest with you,” he said. “For now, I’m thinking about hockey and there hasn’t been [contract] talks in the last couple of weeks. I’m just thinking about hockey, but if we do come down to having conversations during the year, and I feel it’s not distracting me, I’ll keep going. If I feel like it is [a distraction], I’ll tell Peter I’d like to stay in Boston, but I’ll [talk extension] later.”
Those concussion worries will linger for some time, but Bergeron brings a nice mixture of playmaking, defensive prowess and faceoff winning skills to the table. If Boston passes on him at some point, there should be a decent amount of teams looking to add him as a second or third center next summer.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”