Marchand and Subban step into the ring

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Marchand and Subban step into the ring

BOSTON -- It was bound to happen sooner or later between the nose that knows, and the demonstrative defenseman that needs to act like he's been there before.The newest chapter in the BruinsCanadiens rivalry opened up Thursday nightwith Brad Marchand and P.K. Subban finally dropping the gloves multiple times, and finally engaging in an honest-to-goodness fight to end it all.

The duo has been involved in plenty of chippy play overthe last season plus, but that finally bubbled over into theextended dropped gloves session with the decision going to the smaller, scrappier Marchand. It also acted as the most exciting point in the B's 2-1 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.
It started with Marchand jumping on Subban for a few choice shots that sent each player off with matching holding penalties in the second period. Then both players went at each other coming out of the boxbefore they were separated by the refs and slapped with delay-of-game penalties. Both tone-settersthen finally got down to business by dropping their gloves, elbow pads, helmets and any other piece of hockey armor in a full hockey yard sale -- not to be confused with its skiing cousin -- before engaging in some old-fashioned hockey fisticuffs.

Both sides have been waiting for the antagonists to finally drop the gloves since Subban smoked the Bs winger with a bone-rattling body check at the Bell Centre early last season, and it all went downin a Boston defeat that sank the B's into last place. Give Marchand credit for attempting to spark his team with some emotion, but the Bruins once again eventually flatlined.

Stuff happens in a game. Emotions ran a little high, admitted Marchand, who said the fight escalated from a conversation prior to a face-off. I think it all started off the draw. He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and then I grabbed him and he grabbed me.

I thought he wanted to go then so I dropped my gloves. But when we were in the box he asked me to go and I said no. And then back in the second time he asked me again, and I couldnt say no. So it was nice to get it out of the way.

The bout included a series of wild, off-target Subban haymakers that Marchand was able to avoid, and a few short right-handed jabs from the Honey Badger that scored points with the suddenly frenzied crowd. Unfortunately the Bruins couldnt ride the momentum for long enough, and Raphael Diaz smothered a seemingly sure Patrice Bergeron goal into an empty netin the second that followed Marchands bout.

The MarchandSubban bout the second career fight for the Bs trouble-maker after a bout against Andrew Coglianothe Oilers in Edmonton last season probably would have been looked as more of an emotional starter had the Bruins won the game. But it did expose Subban as a hockey fighter thats going to get his clock cleaned pretty badly if he ever scraps with somebody that knows what theyre doing.It was Subban's fifth career fight at the NHL level, but he appeared like he might need to go back to the drawing board given the checks that his wordsand haughty actions can sometimes write on the ice.

Im not a very good fighter, so, I guess you could say I was going for the knockout, but it was a pretty bad attempt, said Subban, who said after the win that he would consult the video with Georges Laraque and Travis Moen to improve his fighting technique. So I dont know, Im probably better to keep my gloves on most of the time.

I know Marchand pretty well and its just a matter of us both being frustrated out there and thats how you settle your differences. I mean, we were kind of laughing about it after, we gave each other a pat on the pads, I dont think theres any true animosity between us two.

Who knows when the next bout will come for the flamboyant Subban, but its more than likely not the last time the Habs defenseman will be dropping the gloves against a Bruins team unafraid to show their dislike for him and his in-your-face game.Marchand and Subban Part II coming to a rink near you this winter and beyond.

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

BRIGHTON -- The third season is usually a pivotal one when it comes to an NHL player's development and trying to forecast exactly how high their ceiling will be.

So it is for David Pastrnak, who is expected to take a major leap forward in his third year after showing flashes of great promise in each of his first two seasons.

“The [World Cup] is done, so now all of my focus is on being as ready as I can for this upcoming season,” said Pastrnak, 20, who threw probably the biggest hit of his career on unsuspecting teammate Patrice Bergeron when the Czechs played Team Canada in the preliminary rounds. “I feel way bigger, very comfortable on the ice, and I obviously feel really good right now.”

Pastrnak has had moments of dazzling brilliance in Boston so far while riding the usual learning curve that every young player travels in Claude Julien’s system. In addition, injuries last season sidetracked his development process.

Pastrnak put up 21 goals and 55 points between Boston and Providence as the youngest player in either league as an 18-year-old rookie two years ago. Last season he had 15 goals and 26 points in 51 games for the Bruins while also missing significant time because of a fractured foot. The injury not only sidelined him for a few months but also made it difficult for him to jump onto the moving train of the NHL regular season once he was ready to return.

Just as the former first-round pick was really catching fire at the end of the year, time ran out on a Bruins team that had a few too many older veterans with empty gas tanks after being ridden hard throughout the season. Pastrnak scored goals in each of the final couple of games, and showed off the game-breaking ability that should be on full display if he's healthy and placed in a position to succeed.

His World Cup stint ended on a high note, as he played his best game of the tourney against Team USA, though he didn’t make a major impact in the elite international competition. He put on five pounds of muscle during the offseason and clearly looking bigger and stronger at 189 pounds after ending last season closer to 180.

Part of that is the natural physical maturation process for somebody Pastrnak’s age as he gain’s “man strength”, and some of it was a dedicated effort. He worked out in Boston with the B’s training staff for much of the summer for the first time in his career.

The expectation is that Pastrnak is going to be running on the right wing with David Krejci on Boston’s second line, and the search in training camp is for a left wing who can bring added playmaking ability and maybe a little size and strength to the mix. In a perfect world Krejci and Pastrnak will develop into the same dynamic, two-way combination of Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Pastrnak and Krejci could be a lethal offensive duo to be sure, but they’ll also have to pay attention to the little details if they want to stay together playing for Julien. Perhaps with that in mind, Julien was looking to temper expectations for Pastrnak

“I don't know if [the World Cup experience] accelerates expectations. But it's certainly encouraging to see that a guy that's got that experience to go and play at that level, and made himself better,” said Julien. “We know he's skilled and we know he's fast, and he's also gotten stronger. He's taking steps in the right direction here. We can look at those guys that are first overall picks and say, wow, some guys are exceptional.

“Some of the guys, you've got to give them time to grow and develop. That's what we need to do with David Pastrnak. I think we've got to stop putting expectations too high for him, and allow him to grow properly. He's going to have some growing pains and there are still some things he's going to want to get better at. There are still some things that he's going to want to learn that we're going to want to teach him. Let's give him that opportunity to grow properly without the extra pressure and extra expectations that maybe are not realistic.”

One would argue Pastrnak put those expectations on himself when he posted the 21 goals and 55 points as an 18-year-old, but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, the Pastrnak development project can, and should, be one of the things considered when we evaluate Julien’s current ability to get the most out of his young prospect-type players.

The bottom line with Pastrnak and the Bruins is this: It’s his contract year and motivation should be sky high. The Czech youngster is one of the few people who can step up and help fill the offensive void left by the free-agent departure of Loui Eriksson. Expectations are much higher for an experienced, talented 20-year-old than they are for a wide-eyed 18-year-old, and Pastrnak needs to make a big stride forward. Now is the time for Pastrnak to show all he’s learned, and completely unleash the array of offensive skills that caught everybody’s eye in the first place.

The Bruins need Pastrnak, and young players, to step up and start taking ownership of the hockey team.

Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

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Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

The Bruins announced their lineup for the second preseason game on Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings, and it was slightly more veteran-laden than the youthful Boston group tapped for Monday night’s opening loss to the Blue Jackets.

Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Dominic Moore lead the grizzled group of Bruins players readying for the exhibition tilt against their Atlantic Division rivals, and 19-year-old Zachary Senyshyn will make his preseason debut after getting fully medically cleared from appendectomy surgery a couple of weeks ago.

The 2015 first round pick has had a bit of a rough summer after bouts with mononucleosis and appendicitis forced him to miss Bruins rookie camp, but Senyshyn has quickly regained his strength and the blazing speed that's his biggest asset as a player. 

Austin Czarnik, Peter Mueller and Sean Kuraly are the only players from the opening night roster that will be in again to show their stuff against the Winged Wheels, and undoubtedly to get another long look from the Bruins coaching staff. Here is the full Black and Gold lineup for Wednesday night’s home date against the Red Wings with the untelevised exhibition game to be streamed on bruins.com

 

FORWARDS: Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Brian Ferlin, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, Sean Kuraly, Dominic Moore, Peter Mueller, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Chris Casto, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar.