No, it was not a change in style for the Bruins center. He has to wear one due to his broken nose. Bergeron got into it last week with Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the Bruins’ 2-0 win over the Predators. Forsberg’s stick came up high, smacking Bergeron in the nose, leaving him swollen and bloodied and in need of the protective bowl going forward for his nose.
But none of his teammates came to his protection. No one stood up for the captain after Forsberg literally broke his nose. It happened again last night when Bergeron got into it with Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs, who cross-checked him towards the face. Luckily for Bergeron, he already had the bowl in place so no more harm was down.
But why was there not a response? Why is it that twice in three games, opponents are taking shots at the Bruins captain and allowed to get away with it?
A lack of protection for Bergeron says a lot about this Bruins team’s culture
The game of hockey has strayed away from having two to three grinders/fighters in the lineup night in and night out. There’s no denying that. The game is more of speed and skill than it is of brute force.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a part of the game still. In fact, some can argue that because those kinds of players aren’t around anymore, it’s easier to take runs at more skilled players, knowing that there will be no real repercussions to follow.
We’re starting to see that with this Bruins team. The fact that not one player has stuck up for Bergeron in these past two incidents is unacceptable. Bergeron can hold his own if he needs, but he is one of your most important players. This team can’t afford to lose Bergeron long-term to an injury because opponents are taking liberties with him. Someone needs to show if you’re going to go at Bergeron, you’re going to pay for it.
This is not the big bad Bruins team of old. Long-gone are the days of having Milan Lucic willing to drop the gloves for a heavyweight bout. Or a Shawn Thornton. Or a Adam McQuaid. Or a Kevan Miller. Guys that opponents did not want to have to answer to.
But where’s Nick Foligno, the experienced veteran who is supposed to play a more physical role and be a leader? Where is Trent Frederic, the supposed spark-plug in the bottom-six that isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone? Where’s Connor Clifton with his so-called patented “Cliffy Hockey”, willing to throw the body around? Where is frankly anyone?
It’s frustrating to see especially since in the same night, during the Colorado Avalanche-New York Rangers game, we saw Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba land a hard, but high hit on Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon.
The response? Gabriel Landeskog immediately went over and dropped the gloves with Trouba. No questions asked. You want to hit the star player? Fine, but you’re going to get some punches thrown at you after.
That fear isn’t anywhere with this Bruins team. They have had a number of incidents this season where one of their star players is getting pushed around and no one does anything about it. The only excuse I could see last night was that it was late in the game and the Bruins wouldn’t want to take a penalty in a tie game.
But this isn’t a one-time thing. This has been consistent all season long.
This may be the softest Bruins team people have seen in quite some time. Someone has to give. Someone needs to step it up and protect the top players. Because as we’ve seen, this team is NOTHING without their top line.
Maybe in a different season where the Bruins aren’t sitting slightly above .500 and have vastly underachieved, people would be reacting differently. But there is something seriously wrong with the culture and character in that locker room if they are okay with seeing opponents cross-checking their captain in the face. Multiple times in less than a week.
Get back to being like the big, bad Bruins that opponents dreaded having to deal with. Because whatever the Bruins are right now ain’t working and it’s hurting the team both literally and figuratively.