MONTREAL -- The Bruins have been reminded before how much Patrice Bergeron means to the success of their team.
While they have delivered in the past and collectively filled Bergeron's skates to survive, they showed in their 2-1 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday at the Bell Centre that it might take some time for them to find that group effort to do so once again. Bergeron now has missed the past two games due to a concussion.
"We need guys to step up more," coach Claude Julien said following his team's third straight loss to the Northeast Division-leading Canadiens, who are three points up on the Bruins. "It's as simple as that."
One guy who didn't step up in Julien's eyes was Tyler Seguin. After Bergeron suffered the fourth concussion of his career Tuesday, the Bruins moved Seguin into Bergeron's spot as the second-line center with Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand on the wings. Seguin was in this situation before as a rookie when Bergeron suffered his third concussion and missed the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Seguin stepped up and delivered then with six points in two games, including two goals and two assists in Game 2 to help the Bruins tie the series at 1-1. Bergeron would return and help the Bruins go on to win the series in seven games and then eventually the Stanley Cup in seven games as well.
Although Seguin's defensive game has improved, he hasn't been able to catch fire in a bottle again the past two games. In a pivotal division game with his team trailing 1-0 early, Julien switched Seguin back to wing. So Jagr ended up paired with two very defensive-minded forwards in Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. Yes, Paille scored his seventh goal of the season, but when Jagr was acquired Tuesday, no one envisioned one of the game's most prolific scorers would play on an energy line. However, such is the case when your best all-around player is not in your lineup.
"This is a big game and they're a really good team that is really good in the offensive zone and I don't think Tyler was ready for that," Julien said. "I had to put a centerman with experience there and put [Seguin] back on the wing. I thought Jags had a good night with Paille and Campbell, and it kind of stabilized the lines a bit, but one line tonight didn't give us much and the other two were good. To win these kinds of games -- especially with the injuries we have -- we need everybody to step up, and we didn't have that tonight."
Center David Krejci, along with linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, was invisible. They most likely were the one line Julien was referring to that didn't give much. Krejci blamed the "bad" Bell Centre ice as a reason for the Bruins' failure to score on a power play in the final minute of regulation. Lucic appeared to realize that through two games without Bergeron, the Bruins have failed to step up.
"He's a big part of this lineup and he brings a lot to this team," Lucic said. "But in saying that, I think the biggest issue we've had in the past 10-15 games is consistency throughout this lineup and getting all 20 guys going at the same time. I think as much as -- and I'm not taking anything away from Bergy -- as much as he brings that extra element to our team, I think it's our system and everyone buying into it is what makes us successful. I think we need to get back to that."
Lucic referenced the 2011 Eastern Conference finals but made it clear that he and his teammates have to fill the void.
"[Bergeron] was hurt the first two games against Tampa back in the Eastern Conference finals, and we had guys step up, especially in that Game 2 where we were able to get that win," Lucic said. "So we're going to need the same thing with guys stepping up and everybody carrying the load."