B's-plus up front

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

The Bruins added a pretty good player in the off-season without spending any money.

Patrice Bergeron.

Remember him?

The Bruins' best two-way forward missed all but 10 games last season with a concussion after he was slammed into the boards from behind by Flyers defenceman Randy Jones Oct. 27, 2007. Jones was suspended two games for the hit.

Bergeron is back and, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien, looks like he's back in form.

"He still looks the same as he did last year before the injury. There's no hesitation in his game anywhere, involvements in the corner, he's playing the same way he did last year," said Julien. "It's the same as having a high-quality, free-agent signing. It's an acquisition we didn't have last year. You add Michael Ryder to that and we've got two guys there together who should give us some pretty good production."

The Bruins signed Ryder, who struggled with the Canadiens last year, to a three-year, $12-million deal in the off-season.

Bergeron, meanwhile, has three assists in three games.

"Am I surprised? No, I'm not. I know what I'm capable of doing on the ice. I know there's more to come," said the 23-year-old, who has been playing on a line with Phil Kessel and Marco Sturm.

"I can control the puck a little more and be a little more confident with it. Other than that ... I worked so hard all summer, mentally and physically to get ready. I was expecting in training camp to get the timing back and I felt like I did that and now I'm good ... I don't feel like I'm off."

NEED OFFENCE

The Bruins were 13th in the Eastern Conference in goals last season and are hoping the return of Bergeron and the addition of Ryder boost the offence. Ryder's production slipped to 14 goals after back-to-back seasons of 30 with the Habs.

"I just find it strange or funny, I don't know what word you want to use ... the guy has always scored 25 or 30 goals from junior on until last year," said Julien, who coached Ryder in junior with the Hull Olympiques and in the AHL with Hamilton.

"He has one year where he has a tough year and he's a healthy scratch. Anybody's confidence is going to be rattled at some point when you're a healthy scratch.

"I don't how big a gamble it is. He's still a young player and he's scored every year. He has one mediocre year. I don't think it's even a gamble. (Signing Ryder) was an easy decision to make."


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