TAMPA, Fla. -- There really weren’t too many positives to take from the Bruins' 5-3 loss to the Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and unraveled in a bevy of mental mistakes as they watched their chance to bring a 3-1 series lead back to Boston for Game 5 slip away. But unlike the Bruins' collective inconsistent play, there was one consistent player in Black and Gold, and that was: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who scored two goals -- one a shorthander -- and continues to make a strong case for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After missing the first two games of this series with a mild concussion suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 6, Bergeron has come back without missing a beat.
After Bruins coach Claude Julien watched his team collapse in Game 4 and stop doing the things that got them a 3-0 lead in the first period, Julien praised his alternate captain and was wishing that the rest of his team followed in Bergeron’s footsteps.
“I mean, Bergy was good for us,” Julien said of Bergeron, who now has 14 points in 13 playoff games. “There’s no issues with his game, and that’s the kind of player you rely on game in, game out. And you hope that a lot of players take his example because that’s what we need, and that’s what we didn’t get tonight.”
Bergeron was asked after the game how he has been able to pick up where he left off before taking that open ice hit from Philadelphia Flyers winger Claude Giroux in the Bruins' 5-1 win in Game 4 of the second round.
“I worked a lot mentally to be ready and to stay sharp,” Bergeron said. “I made sure, even though I wasn’t playing, I made sure in my head I could still work that part of the game, and I did that.”
But the always humble Bergeron wasn’t really in the mood to discuss his own game Saturday. Instead, he made sure he pointed out what led to tough loss in Game 4 and to this series being tied at two as it shifts back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday.
“It was a perfect first period and then we stopped battling and being hard on the forecheck,” Bergeron said. “That’s what gave us success in the first period; and in the second, we sat back, and they have too much speed and firepower up front to do that.
"It was a matter of we stopped playing. I don’t think it was anything else than that. We just let them come back in the game, and they’re a good team, so if we do that, they will score. We weren’t executing and we weren’t doing what was giving us success in the last game.”
But while Bergeron wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in Game 4, he’s not worried that the Bruins can’t recover in Game 5 and seize back the momentum.
“No, we’ve seen it all playoffs -- momentum changes so many times during a game and during a series,” Bergeron said. “It’s about us going back home and playing our game and realizing that first period, that’s Bruins hockey.”