Bergeron/By S. Bradley

After he decided to give up his right to potentially become an unrestricted free agent nine months early last fall, Patrice Bergeron knew he was going to have to live up to his new $5 million-per-year contract, even if it wasn’t scheduled to start until the 2011-12 season.

For some that meant regaining his 70-plus-point form of earlier in his career.

While Bergeron didn’t reach that plateau, it didn’t matter. The Bruins center showed he was worth every penny spent on him throughout the regular season by putting up 57 points and a plus-20 rating despite going head-to-head with some of the league’s top lines nearly every night.

In the playoffs, Bergeron continued his heroics and as the longest-tenured Bruins player understood more than anyone on the ice how much it would mean for the city and the franchise to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston. With Bergeron serving as one of their “glue guys” through thick and thin, the Bruins did it and Bergeron will now be a cornerstone of the organization as it tries to add to its trophy collection.

Stats
Regular season: 80 GP, 22-35-57, plus-20
Playoffs: 23 GP, 6-14-20, plus-15

Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 at a cap hit of $5 million

Best regular-season moment: The Ottawa Senators had no answer for Bergeron Jan. 11 at TD Garden, as the center recorded his first career NHL hat trick on just four shots on goal in a 6-0 rout. Bergeron also won 12 of 18 faceoffs during Boston’s dominant performance.

Best playoff moment: It doesn’t get any bigger than Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final, but Bergeron didn’t let the magnitude of the moment get to him. All he did was score two goals on four shots and post a plus-4 rating in the biggest game the Bruins had played in decades.

Worst moment: In the midst of a point-less streak that would eventually reach seven games, Bergeron endured a rough night on Long Island March 11. He was minus-2 with a giveaway that led directly to one Islanders power-play goal. With the Bruins pushing for the equalizer, Bergeron took a hooking penalty on P.A. Parenteau, who was credited with an empty-net goal because of the game-sealing penalty.

Regular-season grade: B-plus
Playoff grade: A. Even a two-game absence with his third NHL concussion couldn’t sidetrack Bergeron in his pursuit of the championship.

Carnac predicts … Bergeron and winger Brad Marchand will find a replacement for Mark Recchi from a stable of potential fill-ins and continue to form one of the league’s best two-way lines.