Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this edition, he talks about playing for Team Canada, safety concerns at the Olympics and his scouting report on teammate Tuukka Rask (whom he’ll face in Sochi). He also makes his Super Bowl pick. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta.)
It's been an interesting few weeks. I broke my nose against the Islanders last Monday. I got punched when one of their guys was trying to go for the puck. The puck was in the air and he was trying to swing at it. I got caught square on the nose. It's one of those unlucky bounces. I wish I could have been somewhere else at that particular moment. I've probably broken my nose four or five times now since I was 18 years old. I can't breathe as well as I could before, but it's not too bad.
A few weeks ago after a bad loss to the Maple Leafs, [coach] Claude [Julien] challenged us to get back to our style of hockey in the games we had left before the Olympic break. I feel we've done that by going back to playing our system. But also playing simple hockey instead of forcing plays. We were trying to do too much sometimes. Now we've gotten back to playing our game and playing hard. We're really playing well in our zone and creating some offense out of good defense. I thought we've been pretty successful. We've been able to score a lot of goals in that span.
My line with Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith has been clicking. Marchy likes to say he's been getting lucky scoring goals lately, but I think he's been the reason why we've been playing so well right now. We try to feed off of him. He creates a lot of things by his speed, but also by his creativity on the ice. He has some good offensive instincts. So we're just trusting him right now. He creates a lot of things and opens a lot of space for us.
My other linemate, Reilly, has been great all year. He keeps improving. He's playing really well right now. Same for him, he's got a great hockey sense and uses it to his advantage. He hasn't slowed down yet. He's a really great player who is coming into his own. He's also creating a lot of things for our line as well. It's been great having those two guys playing with me.
I was truly honored to be named to Team Canada for the Olympics. We were out in California when our general manager, Peter Chiarelli, tried calling me at, like, 6:45 in the morning. I was still asleep. So I had a voice mail from him telling me to call him back and that he had some good news. At that point I kind of knew I made the team. But he actually called me back a few moments after I woke up, and I was able to answer the phone and talk with him for a few minutes. It's good to have both him and Claude be a part of the management team for Canada. It's good to have people you know a lot. It's going to be a great experience. I can't wait and I'm happy to have them with us.
As soon as I got the official news, I called my wife, then my brother and my parents. For them, they had been waiting to hear and were a little anxious about it. They wanted me to make it and were very happy for me. No one went crazy or anything when I told them, but they were all very happy for me when I gave them the good news.
I have several teammates who will be playing in the Olympics for their countries. Z [Zdeno Chara] has the honor of carrying his flag for Slovakia. We heard about it on the news that he was going to do that. We thought it was a huge honor for him. It's well-deserved. We'll just have to step up for those two games he will miss to be able to be out there for the opening ceremonies. Whenever he is missing, we miss a big part of our team. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something he'll remember for the rest of his life. I'm really happy for him.
I'm actually going to be facing Tuukka [Rask] in goal because Team Canada faces Finland. I've been trying to figure out a scouting report on him during practice. He's so good that he's hard to score on. That's definitely something I'm going to say, that he is a tremendous goalie who is hard to score on. So we need to make sure we have a lot of traffic and try to get some rebounds. If you don't know Tuukka personally, I think you'd be surprised at how down-to-earth he is. He's a very simple, humble guy. He's always trying to get better, which is why I think he's having so much success.
I was disappointed for Looch [Milan Lucic] not making Team Canada's roster. I would have liked to have him with us and coming with me. It's unfortunate. It's one of those things that there wasn't much to be said when things like that happen. I felt badly, but he's the type of guy who has a lot of character and is going to roll up his sleeves and get better.
How concerned am I about safety at the Olympics? I'm all right. I hear about it a lot, and it is kind of concerning when you hear so much about it. But at the same time I feel very confident that the Olympic committee and the Russian government are taking to take all possible measures to make sure everyone is safe. It's a little disappointing to not be bringing any of my family to the Olympics this time because of that. Since I don't have any family members going, I don't have to worry about them over there. I feel confident that the Olympic village and facilities will be safe.
I'm hoping to contribute to Team Canada in any way that I can. I'm going out there with a goal in mind to win and do whatever it takes for the team. I'm willing to do anything. I expect I'll be a part of faceoffs and on the penalty kill. I don't know if I'll be on any line, really. I could be on the fourth line or the extra forward or I could be playing wing. Wherever they want me to play, I'm ready for that. I'm just going out there to do my job to the fullest.
I like the overall depth of Team Canada. I think we have great players at every position. It's a special team. But Team USA and all the teams are great and they will be tough to beat. It's going to be a huge battle for sure.
We had a rare couple of days off in a row this past week. I didn't do a whole lot, to be honest with you. I mostly stayed at home and relaxed. I went for a couple of walks. I went to the movies. I didn't see the "Lone Survivor" movie because I'm reading the book right now. I saw the Tom Hanks movie "Captain Phillips." Thumbs up, I'd say, because I stayed interested the whole time. I was just going there more to relax and clear my mind.
Andrew Ference was in town as we played the Oilers on Saturday. I didn't get a chance to see him before the game or the last few days, as he came in early. I saw him when we were in Edmonton. He was very busy when he was here, since he knows so many people in Boston. I guess he didn't have time for me ... just kidding.
We are in a stretch where we are playing some of our rivals. We had the Canadiens here in Boston on Thursday, and the Canucks come to town on Tuesday. The atmosphere for games like those feels different in the building. The rivalry with Montreal has been going on for more than 50 years. With Vancouver, it's more about what happened because of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. So those are always fun games, especially when you win. Unfortunately, that Montreal game wasn't very much fun.
I can't end this diary without talking about the Super Bowl a little bit. I like the Seahawks, but at the same time, I'd like to see Peyton Manning win another. I do really like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, though. So I'm going for the Seahawks. Looch is really into it because he knows a lot about football. I'm sure all the American guys on our team are also really into it and know a lot about that sport. We're going to have a team gathering to watch the game together.