With his perfectly groomed coif and his soft-spoken demeanor, no one would ever mistake Patrice Bergeron for Don King.
But Bergeron didn’t have to be as outlandish as King to get his point across to Tom Wilson before the Bruins and Washington Capitals started the second period Friday.
After the Bruins crunched the Caps 5-1, Bergeron refused to reveal what was said in the conversation that was captured by NESN’s cameras. One would imagine, though, that Bergeron was letting Wilson know that the Washington wild man should expect to pay the price for his hit to Brandon Carlo’s head that sent the defenseman to the hospital late in the first period.
Patrice Bergeron has words with Tom Wilson ahead of the second period. pic.twitter.com/Wml1vFC50G
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 6, 2021
Bergeron might not have known who was going to have the honor of tangling with Wilson or how the Bruins would respond the rest of the night — they already led 1-0 — but he had to be pleased that his fight promotion turned into a huge two points in the East Division two nights after the Bruins fell flat against the Caps, 2-1 in a shootout.
Jarred Tinordi was the first to take a twirl with Wilson in an evenly matched bout 6:12 into the second period. The Bruins scored two of their three third-period goals with Wilson in the penalty box.
Tinordi and Wilson pic.twitter.com/9kXEy3C9gn
— Bruins Stats (@bruins_stats) March 6, 2021
Then Trent Frederic made Wilson go at it again 1:12 into the third period, when the game was well in hand for the Bruins.
“Sometimes responding isn’t always about dropping the gloves,” Bergeron said. “Obviously what Jarred did, and Freddy as well, it’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed, very selfless and it’s for each other obviously, that we backed each other up.
“It’s also about how we react, how we play, and I thought that it was a solid game all around from everyone. And we were kind of doing it for Brando, he’s obviously a big part of our team and has been having our back for a while as well.”
The Bruins got balanced scoring, with Brad Marchand scoring twice, and Bergeron, Frederic, and Nick Ritchie scored one each. It was Bergeron, though, that added to his long list of games that show why he was deserving of the captain’s C so quickly after Zdeno Chara departed. He was only credited with two hits and one takeaway, but he was all over the ice, setting the tone to make sure the Bruins didn’t let the physicality of the game distract them from their primary task of earning a second win in four tries this season against Washington.
Marchand said that Carlo was on the Bruins’ minds throughout the game. It didn’t look like that was the case. That’s a credit to Bergeron, not just for what he said to Wilson but for what he must have said to his teammates in the dressing room before the Bruins took the ice for the second period.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) March 6, 2021
“We were upset. Brandon’s a very popular guy in the room. And again, we felt it was completely unnecessary, dirty,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So the guys — as I’ve said before, I have things to say between periods, mine’s a little more how the game’s going, how we can correct things or if we didn’t have the right energy.
“But this one, I think the leadership group just took over, said that we’re going to finish every check, push back and go out and play a hard hockey game and win the game. And that’s what they did, credit to them.”
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Although there were probably others echoing Bergeron’s words, we know that his rang truest to the troops. This wasn’t the first time since he took over as captain that he so blatantly sent a message to the Bruins with his play or his words. Just last weekend at Madison Square Garden he threw a hit on the forecheck that let everyone in the Big Apple know he wasn’t going to stand for the Bruins’ lackluster play in a game two nights earlier. The Bruins followed his lead to earn a big win.
On Friday, he might’ve wanted to keep his chat with Wilson secret, but he also had to know the cameras would see him. He didn’t slip a letter across the ice or pass a message through a trainer. He confronted Wilson where everyone — cameras, Bruins teammates, Capitals (Alex Ovechkin stood between Bergeron and Wilson) players — could see him and get the message, even if they couldn’t hear the actual words.
As long as there are players like Wilson in the NHL, there’s going to be situations like the one Boston faced Friday. As long as the Bruins have Bergeron leading them the right way, they’ll handle things in an appropriate manner that keeps them on track toward their ultimate goal, not just a pound of flesh.
Don King would probably like to see more blood and guts, but Patrice Bergeron would rather see a bit of victorious hockey with a side order of violence — the way it should be.