It’s extremely early, and there’s still a slim chance he may not even be on the Boston Bruins’ roster after the next four games, but Bruins rookie sensation Matt Poitras is already drawing comparisons to the recently retired Patrice Bergeron.
Not since Bergeron came in and made the team out of nowhere as an 18-year-old 20 years ago has a rookie caught the collective imagination and hearts of the Bruins fan base. Yes, Phil Kessel (2006 fifth overall pick) and Tyler Seguin (2010 second overall pick) came in and made the team out of training camp as 18-year-olds, but they were highly touted prospects who were expected to do so. Bergeron and Poitras were not, and while it could be considered unfair to compare the two players, there’s no denying the Bergeron vibes that Matt Poitras has given in almost every game (preseason and regular) he’s played in and during practices.
“You can see he’s a student of the game and has that certain instinct like Bergeron,” one NHL pro scout opined to Boston Hockey Now during Poitras’ first NHL game on Oct. 11, in which the playmaking center notched his first NHL point with an assist in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I hate comparing the two this early and putting that pressure on the kid, but I just see a lot of Bergeron in him. Look at the way he thinks the game. Look at how fearless he is in the corners or in front of the net.”
Whoa! That’s some hefty praise for Poitras, but it’s looking more accurate as he and the Boston Bruins try to close out their current four-game road trip at 4-0-0 and improve their overall record to 6-0-0 in a rematch with the Blackhawks. Poitras scored his first-ever NHL goal to tie the game 6:29 into the third period and then the game-winner just 3:51 later in a 3-1 Bruins win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. After the game, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery didn’t drop any comparisons to his former captain but echoed the assessment of Poitras from the aforementioned scout.
“He’s a hockey player. He competes,” Montgomery said of Poitras. “He’s always looking to hang onto the puck to make plays that are going to produce offense. I think he has a nose for the puck. The puck kind of follows him around. That’s what happens with guys that are good offensive hockey players — they have a nose for where the puck’ going.
If you’re going to produce in this league, you got to be willing to play inside the dots, and that’s what I love about him is whether it’s 1-on-1 battles in the corners or getting to the hard areas, he’s willing to go to areas where you’re gonna have success.”
Boston Bruins fans are noticing the same qualities in Poitras’ game and quickly falling in love with the playmaking center. Just check out these two responses to last week’s BHN tweet question of the week:
As always, feel free to respond with other Bruins/NHL-related questions for me, and I will answer in a post every Friday.
Can 19-year-old rookie Matthew Poitras handle the demand of being a 2C? pic.twitter.com/XlRYeexxWC
— MurphysLaw74 (Jimmy Murphy) (@MurphysLaw74) October 17, 2023
Yes he can..He has most likely been a 1C his whole life.
What it does is puts Coyle in his most effective slot at 3C. Poitras is better suited to a more offensive role between talented players.
Coyle was a beast at 3C last year .
— Steven Gilbert (@irishbruinfan) October 17, 2023
My bet is he’s up to the task; very impressed with his work ethic early on in the season. 🤞🏼😎
— NorthernBeard (@NorthernBeard) October 18, 2023
Credit to the response from Steven Gilbert there as Montgomery flip-flopped Poitras and Coyle for the next game, and it’s worked like a charm, allowing Coyle to be himself again slotted into the 3C slot.
The Bruins have five more games to make a decision on whether or not they keep Poitras on their NHL roster and burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to his OHL team, the Guelph Storm. The read here is that Poitras has already made that decision for them and that plenty more NHL insiders and fans will be comparing him to Bergeron as this season rolls on.