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Sunday, April 27, 2014
Bergeron diary: Habs, beards and playoffs

By Patrice Bergeron

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this playoff edition, he describes how the Bruins beat the Red Wings and what they need to do to beat the Canadiens. He also makes a prediction for Tuukka Rask and reveals who has the worst playoff beard on the Bruins. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta -- @ESPNLKCornetta)

I was battling the flu for the first two games of this series against Detroit. I’m better now, but I was really struggling all last week. It was a pretty good virus. But this time of the year, you have to fight through it and find a way. After all the injuries I had last playoffs with a broken rib and a punctured lung, I really have no excuse.

The reason we won this series against the Red Wings is all because we played our system. Every time we played into their transition and speed and were playing a run-and-gun type of hockey is when we got into trouble. Every time that we played our system and played a tight game and to our strengths, making simple but smart plays, is when we saw the winning results.

Right after we lost Game 1, we talked about how we have a lot of veteran players on this team. We’ve been there tons of times before and know what to do. We regrouped and it’s always about that next game in the playoffs. You can’t get too high or too low, win or lose. I think that’s really the approach we took and it was the right approach.

Looch [Milan Lucic] was quite the popular player with the Detroit crowd letting him hear it [Lucic was fined $5,000 for spearing Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser]. We didn’t really give him a hard time about it because he’s one of those guys that shakes things off like that pretty easily. He just worries about what he needs to do. He certainly did a good job with that. Scoring that tying goal in Game 4 in Detroit was a big goal, especially at that time in the game. We battled back after a tough start to that game. Getting that goal early in the third period like he did gave us the momentum we needed.

Another popular player was Brad Marchand. He claims he kissed Jarome Iginla after Iggy scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 4 because he was relieved after missing some good opportunities himself. I don’t know if he did it or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s Marchy and he’s one of those guys that’s always liked by the other team, right? We gave him a little bit of a hard time with that, but he’s able to take it. He’s such a strong competitor and mentally always focused. I wasn’t worried about him. I thought he really bounced back and played a great Game 5.

Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron shook hands after Boston eliminated Detroit in Game 5.
Going into this series, I knew a lot of eyes would be on me matching up against Pavel Datsyuk. I like going up elite players like him. It’s such a great challenge. You have to be aware every time he’s on the ice. Sometimes you can’t really go for the extra play on offense because you know that he’s there waiting for that. It’s about being smart. But it’s not about one guy, it’s about the five guys on the ice that need to do the job, especially when you’re trying to shut down a guy like him.

I guess Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader said during this series that I set the work ethic on the team. What I’ll say is I take a lot of pride in my work ethic. I think that’s where it all starts. It’s about leaving everything out there on the ice. Every time you do that, usually good things happen, things unfold, and you create chances by going for the extra stride and the extra shot with your stick. It always goes a long way and that’s how I was taught to play the game.

This week I was honored to be named a Selke Trophy finalist [for best defensive forward]. It was great news. But this time of year, it’s not something I’m really thinking about because of the playoffs. There is no individual award that happens without the recognition of your teammates and linemates. They’re helping out and I have to thank them for that. As much of an honor as it is, I’m really focused on the job at hand right now.

Tuukka Rask was named a Vezina Trophy finalist [for top goaltender]. It’s not even a contest for him. He deserves it. I have seen that first-hand. He’s a tremendous goaltender who gives us a chance to win every game that he steps in net. It keeps getting better and that’s pretty scary. He’s winning it all the way.

Next up is Montreal. Once again, the keys to winning will be not getting carried away and playing to our strength and our system. I know that may be cliché, but it’s what has given us the success we’ve had in the regular season and against the Red Wings. Montreal is a team that is playing very well right now with that sweep against Tampa. It’s going to be a tough series.

Even though they’re our rival, we have to keep our emotions in check. We have to. It is hard, but at this time of the year you have to do it. You can’t take the extra penalty or get carried away and make a mistake for no reason. It’s about staying composed and poised and doing the right thing.

Because we played them a lot in the regular season, we know what they bring. They know the same for us. We had our difficulties with them this season. If you look at Detroit, they gave us trouble in the regular season too. It’s going to be a great challenge. It’s about adjusting and the coaches are going to be able to do that.

Really what made them so tough this year for us was their depth. They have great depth at all of the positions. Maybe we got a bit carried away emotionally at times and they took advantage of that on the power play and when we tried to do too much.

Carey Price was my goalie in Sochi for the Olympics. He’s a terrific goalie as well and a great competitor. He showed a lot of character in Sochi. For us, it will be about going to the front of the net and getting the rebounds. If he sees it, he’s going to stop it. I wish I could remember some inside info about him. I don’t recall the things in practice that I noticed during the Olympics. He played really well over there. So it’s hard to say much of anything.

I’m really looking forward to two great teams playing one another. An Original Six series is always something exciting for the fans and also for us. And don’t worry, I’m not going to end this diary without mentioning playoff beards. On our team, Z [Zdeno Chara] gets the prize for the best. His is always really thick and grows really fast. He’s always the first one to get a really good beard going. The worst? That goes to Torey Krug because he doesn’t really have one.