Hey gang, sorry for the lack of Cage Match articles the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately duty calls and I was called away to fight some cage matches of my own taking on formidable opponents such as forest fires, Yogi Bear, and fantasy hockey withdrawal. It was arduous (particularly the latter) but I survived and now that I've had my first bear encounter I feel comfortable bringing you this week's Cage Match – Krejci vs. Bergeron. That's right, it's a bear fight!
The Bruins are competing in the Stanley Cup Final this season thanks in large part to the work of their GM: Peter Chiarelli. Two players he cannot take credit for however are David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron who were second round gems taken by the Bruins in back-to-back years prior to the Lockout. It may not have been the plan when they were selected but Bergeron ('03) and Krejci ('04) are now Boston's formidable but not overwhelming one-two punch up the middle.
I say they aren't overwhelming because while both are very good, and have potential, I would not consider either one a star right now. They have each shown flashes but to date they both appear to be tremendous second line centermen who can fill in on the top line in a pinch. At present moment Krejci is filling that role and I think that along with his chemistry with Horton and Lucic would have many people thinking Krejci will take this fight paws down.
I think it is much closer. Krejci may be the top-line centerman but he has few advantages beyond linemates. Krejci averaged only a minute of ice time more than Bergeron per game (18:51 vs. 17:53), and both saw the same average powerplay time per game this season. The Bruins spread things out and score by committee so first line vs. second line is not the end of the world.
Third line may become an issue though. This is because Tyler Seguin is gaining experience and is the Bruins long term plan for the top line center ice position. This has poolies wondering about who will be relegated to third line duties if/when Seguin takes the next step. The easy conclusion is Bergeron. He's no stranger to the third line and his two-way play and faceoff acumen acquit him very well to the position but not so fast. Seguin may be years away from taking ice time away from either Bergeron or Krejci and he may even get moved to the wing more permanently.
Cap concerns are also an issue regarding the Seguin situation. Krejci has only one year left on his contract and will likely demand a raise. Bergeron has three seasons remaining at a near $ 5 million cap hit. Seguin has just two years left on his entry level deal. Assuming he doesn't pull a Stamkos and skyrocket in his sophomore season, it seems more likely that cap issues will force Boston's hand, regarding this trio, by the time Seguin is ready to knock one of them down the depth charts anyhow. Don't count out Seguin making a move to the wing either.
The final knock on Bergeron here is that he is a Band-Aid Boy. With his concussion issues the saying always goes that "He is one hit away from being done," but let's get real for a second here. Isn't every player one hit away these days? Crosby got knocked out buy a relatively innocuous hit and now people are talking like he could retire. While you cannot completely write off injury history the whole one hit away argument doesn't fly, especially not when one