[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the first round playoff series between the Capitals and the Canadiens, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but lesser-known players on the Canadiens and how they might impact the series.]
#47 / Defenseman / Montreal Canadiens
Oct 13, 1980
St-Louis-de-France, Quebec, Canada
Via free agency, October 6, 2009
|Strengths||Has the ability to rack up points on the power play because of a huge point shot. Makes a crisp first pass out of the defensive zone and joins the rush with aplomb.|
|Weaknesses||At 5-9, 198 pounds, he'll always have trouble handling big NHL forwards. As a result, it's a struggle for him to receive regular ice time as a defenseman. Turns the puck over a lot.|
|Potential||Power play specialist.|
Why you should know who he is - The Capitals outscored their opponents 213-136 in five-on-five situations this year; the Canadiens were outscored 146-132 at even and full strength. Simply put, if the Canadiens are going to make this a competitive series, it's almost certainly going to be because their powerplay has been effective, and if the Canadiens power play is going to be effective it's probably going be because Bergeron - one of the team's most efficient powerplay producers and PP ice time leaders - is contributing.
How the Caps can stop him - It may sound glib, but the easiest way for the Capitals to limit Bergeron's effectiveness is to stay out of the box, so discipline's going to play a major role. But the reality is that sooner or later that Caps are going to have to face Montreal's formidable powerplay and deal with Bergeron on the point. In that situation the best way to neutralize Bergeron is to start by attacking his weaknesses (hint: playing defense), applying pressure as he brings the puck out of his own end or carries it through the neutral zone. If the Canadiens are already set up in the Caps' end, shot blocking could play a crucial role. After all, Bergeron's best asset is his shot, and if the Caps can prevent it from getting to the net, they can limit the damage Bergeron can do.