Certain athletes have the knack for knowing when to physically go that extra mile to spark their team or say something to motivate their colleagues.

Patrice Bergeron has always had the first, while he's learned the latter during his seven seasons in the NHL.

"I feel like I'm getting a lot better at it," said Bergeron yesterday after the Bruins practiced at the USA Rink at the Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center in preparation for tonight's Game 4 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "I feel more confident doing it. My English, I feel like it's better. So all that stuff is easier for me to do.

"I've learned a lot from (teammate Mark Recchi), and these past couple years he's kind of helped me know when to speak and when to step up, and now I feel like I'm doing that on my own. It's been pretty good."

That Bergeron, who has been an alternate captain since 2006 when Zdeno Chara became captain, has become a master at both the on- and off-ice leadership has made him a vital cog in any Bruins success. That was apparent in Monday's Game 3 victory, which pulled the B's back into the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Canadiens.

With the Bruins trailing Montreal, 2-1, Bergeron said the message he's been conveying to his teammates has been simple.

"I think it was one of the things that we talked about, we've done it all year, just to play our game, play our system. Yes, it's the playoffs, you want results, but at the same time, you've got to make sure you play your best when you do that," said Bergeron. "So what you do, you relax, you're composed, you're confident that you're going to make the play."

Since taking over as coach in 2007, Claude Julien has witnessed the emergence of Bergeron.