The Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 at Barclays Center Thursday night behind a hat trick from Patrice Bergeron.
The hat trick was Bergy’s second of 2018 and comes just six games after he tallied four goals in a 7-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on January 6th. According to Chris Abraham on Twitter it has been almost 22 years since a Boston Bruins player has notched hat tricks in the same month. Rick Tocchet was the last to do it back in March of 1996. He scored three goals in a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 14th and then scored all three Bruins goals in a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on March 21st.
Bergeron is a four-time Selke Trophy winner for the league’s best defensive forward. He specializes in back-checking, faceoff wins, and controlling and possessing the puck. But Bergy can dent the net with the best of them when the situation calls for it and he routinely is among the league leaders in shots, a product of years of Claude Julien coaching that emphasized getting pucks on net but not always “in” the net.
This season, Bergeron and his linemates, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, have been scoring at a clip not seen in the Julien years. Overwhelmingly called upon to check the opponent’s top line and provide great defensive work under Julien, the line is now being used in more offense-first situations and their defensive role has been toned down. Head coach Bruce Cassidy deploys his top line to maximum effect and the results have been rewarding.
Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak are all on pace to set personal point-per-game scoring bests this season and the change in how they are used is the main reason for this. The Bruins have not suffered on defense due to this change and have benefited on offense.
They will be fun to watch in the postseason and I expect the profile of the three linemates to be amplified in the bright lights of the Stanley Cup playoffs.