Marchand looking for more from within


Marchand looking for more from within

BOSTON -- Its easy for Brad Marchand to recall precious moments about his breakout rookie year and subsequent impactful playoff performance, but those very fine moments come with a cost.

With exceptional seasons come great expectations from the sandpaper-and-skill game Marchand always featured, and there is a certain cachet that arrives with the 20-goal scorer tag at the NHL level. Marchands 21 goals and 41 points now become measuring marks for this season and beyond.

Thats just the way it is in sports.

Its Brad in a nutshell: hes hard on himself and he has very high expectations, said coach Claude Julien. I have to make players understand that its not all about the score sheets. Its about what youre bringing to the table every night and whether youre competing hard doing the right things. A lot of guys are getting better in that area, so lets keep encouraging them.

Still, the five points (2 goals and 3 assists) in his first 11 games this season havent been up to his new Marchand standards, and the six-game scoreless span prior to notching an assist against the Senators certainly werent what he was looking for.

Ive always put a lot of pressure on myself. You do it even more when the team is losing more than usual, said Marchand. You want to find a way to help the team win. I need to be able to produce more.

But perspective is a funny thing for Marchand.

Last seasons run was magical, productive and ended with the ultimate reward but the little Bs spark plug also didnt collect his first goal until November last season while starting off skating with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell. In fact Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of Marchands first NHL goal scored in a two-point performance that helped the Bs take down the Buffalo Sabres.

So Marchand is actually well ahead of his pace from last season, and it would appear the sky is the limit while skating with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin on a line that doesnt appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon.

Thats what I told him, said Julien. I said, How many goals did you have at this point last year? and he said, One. So then whats the problem? We all know hes capable of having even better numbers, but I think in the first game against Philadelphia he had about five unbelievable chances. He just didnt bury them.

There is a lot of truth to the number of Grade A chances missed and posts rung for Marchand in the early going this year, and the similarity to the beginning of last years playoff run when the winger enjoyed a multitude of quality scoring chances against the Canadiens that went unrewarded patience.

Eventually shots fell for Marchand in a playoff run that had him put up 11 goals and 19 points in the 25 postseason games, and practically take over the Stanley Cup Finals at points last spring. So everybody, including Marchand, knows that its in there and its a matter of it turning chance into production.

Hes no different than anybody else where hes getting good chances around the net, but hes having trouble finishing around the net, said Julien. Getting frustrated by that just makes your game even worse. I told him to just focus on playing the game and eventually things will start going his way.

I keep saying the same thing: frustration just sinks you. Youve got to stay away from that. To me a guy that has opportunities cant be playing that badly, and a guy thats not getting opportunities has to start saying what am I doing wrong?

But the left winger is also playing significantly more minutes than he did last season, nothing power play time and being put into a significantly higher position of visibility than he did while opening eyes as a first year player.

I have a lot more points this year than I did at this point last year, admitted Marchand. But Im in a different position. I should be producing more than I am and Ive had my opportunities. You can look at it in that way that Im in a better position figuratively, but Im playing power play and probably playing twice as much in ice time. Im being looked at to produce, and hopefully things start going in for me.

So the stage is bigger, Marchands expectations are bigger for his own game, and that means the pressure he puts on himself is certainly coming down on him with a much greater magnitude. Add in the scrutiny hes getting from referees taking a much closer look at his after-the-whistle activity, and he would seem to be a player looking to ease off the agitator role hes renowned for.

Marchand admits that hes gone away from his rabble-rousing act at times this season, but his coach thinks its something hell never get that far away from because its in his blood.

Marchand will always be an agitator. Its in his blood and its always been there, said Julien. Hes trying to control things so that he doesnt get labeled as a guy the refs are looking for to call him for every little thing. But hell always be in peoples faces and what he wants to do is contribute a little bit more. He knows what he is and what he wants to be.

Marchand also knows that generating offense is in his blood, and both facets of his game need to keep churning if the Bruins are going to continue climbing out of the Eastern basement.

Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team


Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into. 

*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad. 

*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.  

*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years. 

*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair. 

*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season. 

*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters. 

*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both. 


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

While the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Tuukka Rask is dealing with a knee injury, there are still some significant muscular issues to work with concerning his left leg. 

According to former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast, the Bruins franchise goaltender has been dealing with a hamstring issue that’s also become a hamstring and groin issue as he tried to play through in the first week of the season. Rask clearly tweaked something in his left leg opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, missed the Saturday night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and then appeared to aggravate the injury in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils. 

According to Ward, it’s hamstring and groin issues for Rask as the Bruins attempt to survive without him while potentially working toward a possible return for the Finnish netminder this weekend vs. the Red Wings. Rask hasn’t skated with the Bruins since finishing out the 2-1 win over the Devils last Thursday night, and tweaking the problematic left leg in the process. 

“What I was told is that it was left leg, and that at first it was hamstring and now it’s possibly hamstring and groin,” said Ward to CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty on the Great American Hockey Show podcast. “You’re always concerned when you’re a goalie and it’s your legs, right? It’s the push-off. The crazy part was watching it on video where the shoot came from the left side and went wide, and the next time he injures it shot comes from the same spot, misses it wide and [Rask] is in the exact same position wincing.

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“I think [the Bruins] are smart rather than trying to play a guy that’s 90, 80 or 70 percent, whatever it is, to just get it over with. Endure the short term pain to get the greater gain, and that’s having Rask in there. There’s no greater endorsement to keep him out than seeing the [bad losses without him] because you need a healthy Tuukka to let the rest of the team settle.”

It’s been disastrous without Rask, of course, as the Bruins have allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses to the Wild and Rangers with rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre between the pipes, and Anton Khudobin out for three weeks while sporting a cast on his right hand in the last B’s game at TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, Rask (3-0-0, 1.67 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage) is trying to heal and time it perfectly so he returns once he’s past the danger of potentially blowing out the muscles in his left leg and making the situation even worse than it already might be. 

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.