The 32-year-old eclipsed the 20-goal mark and racked up a total of 53 points on the year. He also walked away with the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward for the fourth time in his career.
Yet for much of the year, the two-time Olympian wasn’t himself. Bergeron battled ankle and hernia injuries and slumped to an underwhelming 10 goals and 21 points through the first 47 games of the season.
“The one thing that was difficult was that you knew it was always there, and it was annoying,” Bergeron told Joe Haggerty of CSN New England. “It was one of those things where you have to battle through it and then the next day you knew it was still going to be there.”
Bergeron was able to move past his impairments, and was a point-per-game player for the remaining 32 games of the season, finding the back of the net 10 times. He told Haggerty that overcoming the mental aspect of his injuries was key in producing that turnaround.
“It was hard that way and it was in my head a little bit,” said Bergeron. “Once I got past that hurdle of realizing it was going to be there, and not worrying about it, I felt better.
“It’s not an excuse for the slow start I had and not scoring on some easy chances, but it was slowing me down a bit. It was definitely annoying. Once I passed the hurdle of knowing that my skating was going to be restricted, I felt better confidence-wise and whatnot. I stopped second-guessing everything that I was doing on the ice.”
While Bergeron’s production suffered, that of his linemates did not.
Both David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand broke out with career years, and it does not take a lot of imagination to connect their impressive offensive output (85 points for Marchand, 70 for Pastrnak), to the steady, two-way play of their pivotman.
The Bruins as a team struggled to start 2016-17, but rallied to make the playoffs under new coach Bruce Cassidy before bowing out in six games to the Ottawa Senators.
A stronger first half from Bergeron would go a long way towards a better post-season position in 2017-18.
“Hopefully I’m going to have a better start, and just get back to playing a better game two-ways,” said Bergeron. “You always want to push your limits and be better. I guess that’s always my approach.”