Haggerty: Marchand finds offense, attitude just in time

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Haggerty: Marchand finds offense, attitude just in time

ST. LOUIS Brad Marchand knew it had been a long stretch since he had scored a goal (six games, actually) or been a physical factor (the Montreal game at the start of the road trip).

So he was bound and determined to become the dogged pain in the rump that he is when both player and team are doing well, and it worked to the tune of a two-goal performance in Bostons 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

When your team isnt winning like they can, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to score, said Marchand. I hadnt had a goal in a while and that was one of the longer slumps Ive had recently. It was nice to get the monkey off my back.

Marchand opened and closed the scoring for the Bruins with goals, and was once again the tone-setting force.

Its what you needed from your best players and the guys that can score, said coach Claude Julien of Marchand. Marchand is a guy thats pretty competitive and pretty proud. He takes things to heart, and I like the way he played and the way he competed.

It just goes to show that when our guys put their minds to it and theyre determined to be the hardest-working team out there, then they give us a pretty good chance.

Marchand has also passed Tyler Seguin in goals scored; he now has 21 to Seguin's 20. He showed his quickness, tenacity and skill when he stripped Kevin Shattenkirk of the puck near the defensive blue line, proceeded to move in all alone toward the net and then sizzled a snap-shot over Brian Elliotts shoulder 2:29 into the game.

Getting that first goal for our team lately has been really big. Usually when the other team scores against us first we let up a bit, said Marchand. Thats how we have to keep playing and trying to get that first goal early.

We played tight and we played a good game. We came up big when we had to and thats how we play our game.

That gave the Bruins the start they needed after falling behind early in many of their recent disappointing games, and handed Marchand the kind of jump he needed. He was even able to shake off a borderline first period leg check from St. Louis captain David Backes that appeared to make painful contact with his knee. There was no penalty call in a game that featured only one power play apiece for a pair of physical teams, but that didnt matter.

Instead of complaining to the referees or looking for a call there, Marchand simply left it behind and kept focusing on the action on the ice. His line and the reconfigured Milan LucicDavid KrejciChris Kelly trio carried the play and the offensive production, and Marchand Nose Face Killed the Blues with a third period insurance goal that effectively closed the door.

With the Bruins clinging to a 3-2 lead during a strong final 20 minutes, Marchand raced toward the offensive zone once Patrice Bergeron had won a loose puck battle in the defensive zone. Bergeron got the puck to Seguin, and the 20-year-old sophomore zinged a long stretch pass to a streaking Marchand for a breakaway chance against Elliott.

Rather than go upstairs as he had earlier in the game, Marchand opted for a forehand fake before tucking the puck between Elliotts outstretched pads in classic five-hole fashion. The goal represented needed victory for the Black and Gold, but it also allowed Marchand to shoot past both Seguin and Lucic for sole possession of the Bs goal-scoring lead.

In the entire hubbub about Marchands antics and borderline hits, some can pretty easily forget that hes also a damned good offensive hockey player.

Marchand gave a healthy reminder of that on Wednesdays win and how closely linked his personal success and the teams triumphs are in the grand scheme of things.

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.
 

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.