By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Beside every great player is his partner-in-crime, his right-hand man, his “sidekick”, if you will. Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier (… and Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, etc. Man, those Oilers teams were stacked.), Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe – and so on, you get the idea.
These dynamic duos have continued into today’s NHL too. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, and so forth. These pairings have shaped a franchise and created an ever-lasting level of greatness along with it. When you think of these teams in a given era, these players automatically come to the forefront of your mind. So, who is the Boston Bruins’ iconic duo of recent memory? It has to be Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Patrice Bergeron has been a staple on the Bruins roster since the early 2000s. Since the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville, Tennessee where he was selected 45th overall by Boston. In only his second NHL season, Bergeron hit the 70-point plateau for the first of three times and he would do so in back-to-back seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
For the majority of his career, Bergeron has been able to hit 50+ points as a member of the Bruins and he has in fact improved with age. During the 2018-19 season, he tied a new career-high in goals with 32 and set a new career-high in points with 79. Of course, it isn’t the offensive numbers that have made Patrice Bergeron a known player in the NHL, but rather, it is his defensive prowess.
As of 2019-20, the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native is tied for the most Frank J. Selke Trophies in league history with four – tied with Montreal Canadiens legend Bob Gainey. Bergeron’s position, awareness, and constant effort on every single play has allowed him to shut down opposing team’s top lines and has made his teammate around him better on the defensive side of the puck. Teams across the league cross their fingers – hoping to not be matched up against the Bergeron line.
Brad Marchand’s entrance into the National Hockey League was a bit different from other players, having been drafted in the third round back in the ’06 Draft, but not playing his first game until the 2009-10 season. Even then, Marchand didn’t have his first successful year until 2010-11 where he put up 21-20-41 numbers in 77 games. In that same year, Marchand exploded for 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 25 playoff games during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run.
From that point on, Marchand was a solid point-producer who often crossed the line in regards to the NHL rulebook. Numerous suspensions and fines put a blemish on Marchand’s playstyle and ultimately, the league was forced to warn him to calm down on the antics or a much heavier punishment will come as consequence.
Following the so-called warning, Marchand scored back-to-back 85-point seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18 before hitting the often sought-after 100-point milestone in 2018-19. Last season, Marchand scored 28-59-87 totals in 70 games before the league went on pause, further cementing himself as one of the top wingers in the NHL.
Good as One, Even Better as a Pair
While these two have been putting up numbers individually throughout their careers thus far, they have done so largely when they’re together. Marchand and Bergeron have formed a type of chemistry with one another that can only truly be appreciated when you sit back, take in the excellence, and simply enjoy.
Since the 2010-11 season, Marchand and Bergeron are first and second in Bruins scoring and combined, have a total of 562 goals and 725 assists for 1287 points. As well, putting aside the fact that the plus/minus stat is unreliable at times, both Bergeron and Marchand are the only forwards since ’10/’11 to have a plus/minus above +100 – and they’re both at least +200 (Marchand +221; Bergeron +217).
Furthermore, last season in 2019-20, Marchand directly helped on 11 of Bergeron’s 31 goals while Bergeron helped Marchand scored three times. This was, however, a lower year, as in 2018-19, Bergeron assisted on 15 Marchand goals while Marchand assisted on 11 Bergeron goals. Since that 2010-11 season I mentioned earlier, the duo has been the top-scoring duo on the Bruins in every season except for 2016-17 and 2019-20.
Over the course of their careers, the two of them have been the best when they’re on the ice together. Going back to the 2017-2018 regular-season, the combo has a better Corsi-for percentage, more expected goals for, a better high-danger scoring chance percentage, and higher expected goals for percentage in comparison to when either one is without the other.
With all that said, some of these statistics don’t even paint the entire picture. Night in and night out these forwards can find each other in almost any circumstance. Be it at even-strength, the power-play, or even shorthanded, they’re able to make plays and consistently put up numbers.
Similar to the other legendary duos of the NHL’s past, it seems although Bergeron and Marchand – perhaps blindfolded even, know where the other is at all times. The fluidity and finesse they show in every single game is something that can leave any hockey fan awestruck. While of course, neither of them is getting any younger, without a doubt, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand remain one of the best duos in the National Hockey League and Bruins fans should continue to take in the excellence while we still have it.