Those in Boston know him simply as “Bergy,” but on a national spectrum, Patrice Bergeron is grossly underrated. Bergeron won his second Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL on Tuesday night at the league awards ceremony, and deservedly so. But, Bergeron’s play is deserving of much greater individual attention. His value for the Boston Bruins goes well beyond any other player on the current roster, and in the true definition of the Hart Memorial Trophy, Bergeron is far more valuable to his team than any other player in the league.
He does not put up the same offensive numbers as this year’s three nominees, but Bergeron makes up for his lack of offense by playing on both sides of the puck and playing against the opposition’s top talent. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins won the award on Tuesday night, and led the league in points with 104 and with 68 assists. Claude Giroux put up 86 points in helping the Philadelphia Flyers to the playoffs, and Anaheim‘s Ryan Getzlaf put up one more point while also captaining the Ducks to the best record in team history.
But while Bergeron had a much more average 62 points, good for 37th in the league, his value stems from his ability to play in the most crucial situations. For forwards, he finished third in the league in faceoff efficiency, finished fifth in shorthanded faceoffs won and led the league in faceoff wins. He played 80 games for the league’s best team and led the Bruins in shorthanded time on ice and finished second in the NHL in plus-minus.
For reference purposes, Crosby finished in 30th in plus-minus with a +18, less than half of Bergeron’s total. Crosby led the league with 104 points, but was only a +18; he is weak defensively. Crosby led all forwards in time on ice, but played only 40 minutes of shorthanded play. Bergeron nearly tripled that. Getzlaf and Giroux were both in the top 15 for power play time on ice, but finished well behind Bergeron in the faceoff circle and in plus-minus. Their offensive numbers draw attention from the national media, but their less “sexy” numbers separate Bergeron from these three candidates.
He will most likely never win an MVP, but Bergeron is the heart and soul of the Bruins’ franchise and will be for years to come. Excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he has missed more than 15 games only once in his career. When Bergeron was injured with a concussion in 2007 the Bruins struggled mightily. And after he was sidelined for two games in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, the Bruins were missing an essential player who linked their offense and defense together.
In the true definition of the most valuable player to his team, Bergeron represents that to a T. Crosby shares a line with another world-class forward in Evgeni Malkin. Getzlaf has a linemate in Corey Perry who is capable of 40 goals any given year. Giroux makes a case for the Hart Trophy because of limited depth offensively for the Flyers. But Bergeron is the main reason why the Bruins succeed on both ends of the ice, and is absolutely worth the Hart Trophy later in his career.