Left wing Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron have both reached career-high point totals this season, but the increased production is nothing new in the eyes of their teammates.
“They’re a go-to pairing for this team, and they always have been,’’ defenseman Torey Krug said Wednesday. “It’s special, with the résumés that each individual guy has, to see them collectively do it together — for years now, really.’’
Krug noted how Marchand and Bergeron have continued to “grow and develop’’ even in their 10th and 15th NHL seasons, respectively. The two veterans have been mainstays in the franchise since getting drafted, now serving as role models for younger players coming through the system.
“They’re perfect pros,’’ said left wing Jake DeBrusk, who is in his second season with the Bruins. “I think they’re guys that you want to be like. You see their preparation before every game and the things that they do for practice. They just work really hard; they work really hard at everything that they do. There’s a reason why they have career-highs.’’
After notching a trio of assists against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, Marchand didn’t just create further separation from his previous career-high of 85 points. With 34 goals, 63 assists, and five games to go, the 30-year-old is on the verge of tallying his first-ever 100-point season.
Only nine players in Bruins history, including legends like Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, and Rick Middleton, have achieved such a feat. Joe Thornton (101) was the last to do it, in 2002-03.
“Compared to where I was to when I first came in the league, to where I am now, I never really thought I’d be in this position,’’ Marchand said.
Coach Bruce Cassidy, who called Marchand one of the team’s “offensive catalysts,’’ attributed some of the increased production this season to his usage during power plays. Marchand’s average power-play time per game this year is 3 minutes 12 seconds, up by seven seconds from last year’s mark and up by 31 seconds from two years ago. He leads the team in power-play points with 27, and his 10 power-play goals trail only David Pastrnak.
If Marchand does eclipse 100 points, the moment won’t go unnoticed.
“Any time you get 100 points in this league, you’re doing something really special,’’ DeBrusk said. “He does everything off the ice just as he does on the ice. I wish I had that engine that he has. I’m trying to get there. He’s a special talent, and I’m really happy he’s on our team.’’
And Marchand might even get a special message from Krug, whom he’s constantly provoking in an ongoing social media battle.
“You’ll see,’’ Krug said with a smile.
Although the end of the regular season is nearing, and they’ve already clinched a playoff spot, the Bruins have expressed little interest in cruising to the finish line.
“We have to win as many games as we can to get second place,’’ center David Krejci said.
Boston holds a comfortable 6-point cushion over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division — and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“We know that [the Maple Leafs are] not going to stop, and they’re going to try and get home ice,’’ Krug said. “I think it’s critical for both teams to try and get that. We know they’re not going to stop playing, and that pushes us forward. We’re going to continue to fine-tune our own.’’
“It’s cliché, but we take it day-by-day,’’ added DeBrusk. “We’re trying to get distance from Toronto right now. It’s a matter of trying to find our game and groom it for the right time.’’
If things stay as they are in the standings, the Bruins will once again begin their postseason by hosting the Maple Leafs. Last year, the two teams’ seven-game series culminated with a 7-4 Boston win at the Garden.
Praise for P-Bruins
Bruins president Cam Neely had nothing but glowing remarks about the team’s recently announced 10-year partnership agreement with its AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.
“We’ve come to realize it’s extremely important to draft well and develop well and get those players in your lineup,’’ Neely said.
Established in 1987, the P-Bruins have been a breeding ground for NHL talent as well as a home for players on the bubble of entering the league. For those players bouncing back and forth, Neely said the organization has placed more emphasis on proper communication.
“It’s extremely important,’’ Neely said. “If a guy gets sent down, it’s about why are you getting sent down and making sure they understand the reasons and what they need to work on when they get sent down to Providence. Communication has been key for us. These guys really understand what the expectations are for them.’’
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) selected defenseman Zdeno Chara as the Bruins’ nominee for the 2019 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.’’ Last year, the award was given to center Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils. Chara was previously nominated for the award in 2017.