Patrice Bergeron is still doing most of the things that have made him a three-time Selke Trophy recipient.
He’s still playing great defense.
He’s still winning faceoffs at a ridiculously high rate.
He’s still playing good, solid hockey.
But the one thing he isn’t doing is scoring, and that’s had a sizable effect on the Boston Bruins’ record, which slid to 18-15-4 after last night’s 4-3 loss in Columbus.
In 34 games, Bergeron has just five goals and five assists. If he maintains that pace, he’ll finish the season with around 23 points — a far cry from the 68 he racked up last season, which included a career-high 32 goals.
“When you look at the players that [aren’t scoring goals], Bergy I think he has four or five goals, he had 30-something last year,” head coach Claude Julien said earlier this month, per CSN New England. “Things are going to come around.”
Julien has to hope so.
And to be fair, Bergeron is still getting his shots on goal. For whatever reason, they just aren’t going in. His shooting percentage last season was 11.3. It’s currently languishing at 4.3.
“There are lots of shots that I wouldn’t change a thing on those shots,” said Bergeron. “I’ve got to keep taking them and they’re going to go in.”
He isn’t the only B’s forward in that predicament. Riley Nash (1.9%), Jimmy Hayes (3.8%), and Matt Beleskey (4.5%) have all struggled to convert. Last night, Nash registered four shots on Sergei Bobrovsky without beating the Blue Jackets’ goalie. The Bruins ended up outshooting Columbus, 40-22, marking the 10th time they’d lost a game in regulation despite outshooting their opponent.
In fact, the B’s sit dead last in the NHL with a team shooting percentage of 6.8.
Compare that to the New York Rangers, who lead the league at 11.3 percent, and it gets easier to understand why the Rangers (24-12-1) have a better record than the B’s, despite the Rangers having far worse possession stats.
Score-adjusted Corsi, per Puck On Net
Bruins: 54.5 (1st)
Rangers: 47.8 (22nd)
Though it wasn’t applicable last night, the Bruins are also a disappointing 7-3-1 when they hold a lead after the first period.
“It’s heartbreaking, sometimes, how hard we work, and how we’re not capable of extending leads,” Julien told reporters after Friday’s 3-2 OT loss in Carolina, where the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead they couldn’t protect. “You play well enough that you deserve to win, but somehow, because you’re not capable of extending your lead a little bit more, and discouraging the other team, they give them hope to come back in the game.”
The Bruins are still in a playoff spot, but with Tampa Bay, Florida and even Toronto capable of going on a run, they aren’t comfortable by any means. The B’s have just three wins in their last 11. They play in Buffalo Thursday before their rematch with the Sabres Saturday at TD Garden.