It’s appropriate that by virtue of alphabetical order Patrice Bergeron is the first of my 2011-12 season recaps for Bruins players because, in all seriousness, he is the Bruins’ No. 1 player on and off the ice.

Other guys might speak more, but no Bruins player speaks more effectively than Bergeron. And his off-ice discipline is unmatched.

On the ice, he sets the perfect example and is probably the best two-way forward in the entire NHL. We’ll find out next month is voters got it right and picked him to win his first Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward.

While widely considered to be the Bruins’ No. 2 center, Bergeron was, based on performance and production, their top-line pivot all season. And there’s no telling how Boston would’ve fared had Bergeron not be playing through a debilitating oblique injury against Washington in the first round of the playoffs.

Stats

Regular season: 81GP, 22-42-64, plus-36

Playoffs: 7GP, 0-2-2, even

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

Regular season recap

Highlight: As it turned out, the message sent by the Bruins’ April 1 victory on the road against the New York Rangers – Boston’s only win against the Blueshirts in four tries this season – didn’t wind up being a factor in the Bruins’ abbreviated postseason. Nonetheless, in a showdown of the top two teams in the East in terms of seeding, Bergeron starred with the game-winning power play goal. He stole the puck below the goal line and then stuffed it in behind Henrik Lundqvist for a 2-1 victory. He was a plus-1 and won an astounding 17 of 19 faceoffs that night.

Lowlight: Oddly, Bergeron’s worst game might’ve been in a 4-3 victory over Ottawa Jan. 31. He didn’t record a point and was a rare minus-2 (four on the season) with just one shot on goal. He also won just nine of 24 faceoffs. Of course, Bergeron will tell you none of those individual numbers matter because Boston earned the two points. But it was a rare down evening for the Bruins’ center.

Playoff recap: That oblique actually started bothering Bergeron all the way back in Game 3 of the Washington series, so that he didn’t stop taking faceoffs until Game 6 is a testament to his determination. He won the two faceoffs he took in the last two games. Still, an enduring snapshot of the series loss will be Bergeron’s miss of the open net early in overtime in Game 7 when he couldn’t bury the rebound of Dennis Seidenberg’s shot.

Grade: A. Bergeron earned every penny the Bruins threw his way in a contract extension he signed in fall 2010.

Carnac predicts … after winning the Selke Trophy in June, Bergeron becomes a fixture among the final three for that award for years to come and serves as the perfect No. 2 center once Tyler Seguin emerges as the team’s No. 1.