Wiebe’s World: How the Bruins dealt with losing | Carolina facing another hurdle

Brad Marchand gathered three assists, and David Krejci scored the eventual winner as the Boston Bruins defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-2.

WINNIPEG — Recent evidence suggests the self-proclaimed Boston Bruins malaise is officially over.

The Bruins rolled into Winnipeg on Thursday having lost three of the previous four games and while much of the hockey world was scratching their collective heads in amazement, open and honest conversations were being had in an effort to get to the root of the issue.

While hiccups are commonplace over the course of an 82-game schedule, letting things linger simply wasn’t an option for a group that’s more interested in raising a silver trophy at the end of the season than maintaining a historic pace during the regular season.

“It coincided with the day we clinched playoffs,” said Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “Players’ honest feedback, which I really value, is we’ve never been in this situation, 20 games left and we’ve clinched a playoff spot. It is human nature a little bit to take your foot off the gas pedal. That’s what’s happened to us.

“I don’t think we’ve stayed in the moment lately. All year we’ve stayed in the moment. We understand why we didn’t stay in the moment. We’ve got to get back to being in the moment.”

Thanks to victories over the Winnipeg Jets (3-0), Minnesota Wild (5-2) and Buffalo Sabres (7-0), all signs point to the Bruins being back on track.

Montgomery understood it was going to be incredibly difficult to maintain the ridiculous pace his team got off to, so he made a point to speak to several coaches who have been in a similar situation, picking their respective brains about how to handle the lulls.

“There’s going to come a time where you’re going to have to address the malaise that’s come over our team,” said Montgomery, who is a front-runner to capture the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year in his first season behind the Bruins bench. “You understand it, but that’s a good time to get their attention back.”

Montgomery said he didn’t need to change his tone or his message, it was more about reinforcing the core beliefs.

Montgomery isn’t the one dominant voice. He’s made a point of getting plenty of feedback from the leadership group, specifically from captain Patrice Bergeron.

Montgomery always had an appreciation for Bergeron’s game, but seeing his work habits on a daily basis and how he conducts himself has been an eye opener.

“There’s two things: one, listen a lot, because you’re going to learn,” said Montgomery. “I’ve learned a lot from him, about leadership and about how to communicate and understanding the Bruins culture.

“The second thing is the empathy he has for everybody. He knows everybody’s name. He cares about everybody, whether you play eight minutes a night or you’re on his line playing 19 minutes a night. He cares about how you’re doing as a person, first, and then, how to help you as a teammate.”

Bergeron spoke to members of the media on Thursday morning and insisted he wasn’t the least bit concerned about the recent results.

“Adversity is always good, it makes you stronger as a team. Results fall in place when you take care of your process and your details,” said Bergeron.

“This league is going to humble you if you don’t take teams seriously and that’s what you saw against Detroit and Chicago. Teams are giving us their best every night, which is a good challenge for us.”

One of the things that often gets brought up about the Bruins is the winning culture they’ve worked so hard to establish and Bergeron spoke openly about the importance of accountability.

“It’s collectively, but it’s also individually,” he said. “It’s making sure that we’re all held to the same standards, that’s the most important thing. No one should feel like they’re bigger or above those rules and we’re trying to do a good job of that internally and taking care of our room ourselves as a team and as veterans.”

Bergeron praised Montgomery for the job he’s done since taking over for Bruce Cassidy, who was fired by the club in June but is enjoying success of his own after joining the Vegas Golden Knights in the off-season.

“Every time there’s a new voice, there are new ideas and new tweaks in the system,” said Bergeron. “I think (Montgomery) has done a great job of communicating and making guys feel comfortable and confident in their abilities as well.”

Now in his 19th season, Bergeron is enjoying another brilliant campaign to go along with all of the team’s success.

His production has been rock-solid (26 goals, 54 points in 69 games) and he’s well on his way to claiming a sixth Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL.

“His IQ is next level. That’s the biggest thing,” said Jets centre Mark Scheifele. “Obviously, he works hard and his work ethic is tremendous but his hockey IQ is one of those things that goes unnoticed. He’s a pretty fantastic player.”

There was plenty of debate over whether or not he would return for this season, but Bergeron signed a one-year deal on Aug. 8 and that decision was celebrated throughout the hockey world — even by opponents who have to prepare to play against him.

“Oh man. It’s how long he’s played at a high level,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness, when asked what he appreciates about Bergeron’s game. “I’ll tell you a story. That year of the lockout, 04-05, when I was with the Coyotes, we did some scouting and I went to the American League a couple of times to do some scouting. The year before, Patrice had played the whole year in Boston and he went to Providence that year (after). I saw him probably play five games and in all five games, he was the best player on the ice. So that tells you about his character.

“A lot of guys who play a year in the NHL, as an (18) year old and then go to the minors and not be happy about it. Every game he was the best player on the ice. That told me all I needed to know about his character. Then when you watch him play the game, my God, his hockey IQ, his compete level game by game over all of this time is very, very impressive. It goes back to his character. This guy is a wonderful person, wonderful leader and one heck of a hockey player. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame, for sure.”

No argument here.

Bergeron is one of the best two-way players of all time and because of how good he’s been defensively, some folks overlook the fact he’s racked up 14 seasons of producing 20 goals or more — and another six of 30 or more.

With 14 games left in the regular season, Bergeron might make it seven.

Bergeron isn’t the type of person to spend the season taking a victory lap or going on a prolonged farewell tour, he’s bringing his business-like approach and he’ll deal with the future when it’s time to do so.

But if the Bruins happen to be playing in an arena near you either at the end of this regular season or in the playoffs, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity to see him live.

There simply aren’t many players like him anymore — and that’s one of the many reasons Bergeron will be celebrated long after he decides to hang up the blades.


When the news that Hurricanes prolific scorer Andrei Svechnikov would be lost or the rest of the season due to a torn right ACL was confirmed, there were plenty of folks wondering how that group would respond to the devastating development.

The Hurricanes are a team that’s been enjoying a fantastic season, currently sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division but they don’t have an abundance of pure snipers — and now they’ve lost one of their most consistent ones after already playing the bulk of the campaign without Max Pacioretty.

Well, the Hurricanes are 2-1 since the news, having earned victories over the Jets (5-3) and Philadelphia Flyers (5-4 in OT) while dropping a 5-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sebastian Aho did his part on Saturday, capping a hat trick with an excellent rush 28 seconds into overtime after Martin Necas forced the three-on-three session by scoring with 0.3 seconds to go in regulation time.

Aho just hit 30 goals for the fourth time in seven seasons (he also has a 29-goal campaign to go along with a pair of 24-goal outputs), while Necas continues to lead the group in points (64 in 68 games) during this breakout season.

On an unrelated note, hearing about how Svechnikov apologized to Hurricanes GM Don Waddell for getting injured was heartbreaking and shows how invested he is in the organization that chose him second overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“There’s no easy way to say it. I hate it for him more than anything because he’s worked so hard to get to this point of the year, when it’s fun. And he’s not going to be able to be a part of it going forward. It’s tough,” head coach Brind’Amour told reporters. “I hated it for Pacioretty when he goes down because he’s missing doing what he loves to do and now, Svech, hopefully it’s not super devastating but I know this is a long-term injury, so it’s not great.

“For us, we’ve got to move forward and do our job. It’s 20 guys, it’s not one guy. I can tell you that,” Brind’Amour continued. “It was never about one guy. It just makes it a little harder, obviously you don’t have one of your weapons in there. It doesn’t change anybody’s job. We’ve just got to be that much more detailed.”


In this space a few weeks ago, we wondered who would follow Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid into the century club. The answer, it turns out, is teammate Leon Draisaitl, who hit 100 points by scoring twice against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. He’s now up to 104 points, which leaves him second in the NHL, but a remarkable 30 points behind McDavid. Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft had a great line in the 32 Thoughts podcast this week, urging folks to not become numb to what McDavid is doing.

Speaking of numbers, Dallas Stars sniper Jason Robertson became the seventh NHL player to reach the 40-goal mark on Saturday night by scoring a pair — including a backhand for the overtime winner — moving him to 41 on the season, which leaves him one behind Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres. McDavid leads the Rocket Richard chase with 58. Robertson eclipsed 40 goals for the first time last season, finishing with 41 goals and 79 points in 74 games. He’s already reached 88 points in 70 games this season and became the fourth player in Stars/Minnesota North Stars history to record multiple 40-goal campaigns, joining Dino Ciccarelli (four), Brian Bellows (three), and Dave Gagner (two).

By collecting a pair of assists in Saturday’s 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers winger Patrick Kane moved into a tie for second place overall for points among American-born players with Phil Housley at 1,232. Next on the list for Kane to try and chase down is Mike Modano (1,374).

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