Marchand quietly takes team lead in goals

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Marchand quietly takes team lead in goals

BOSTON -- After a defensive nightmare like Thursday night at the TD Garden, there weren't many Bruins players or coaches leaving the building throwing praise Brad Marchand's way.
Nothing against "Marchy," but his two goals in a 7-4 loss weren't really at the forefront of postgame discussion.
But when the B's wake up on Friday, they're all going to realize something.
Marchand is the team's lone leading goal scorer.
On a normal, defensive-minded night in which Bruins defensmen are picking up loose bodies out front instead of allowing odd-man rushes that see wide-open wingers tee-off on cross-ice one-timers, four goals for the B's is more than enough to walk away with two points.
And had they played that normal defensive-minded style that Boston is accustomed to seeing on Thursday night, the Bruins would still be undefeated in regulation through seven games to begin the season. And in that case, Marchand would be the talk of the town.
"I thought offensively we did a good job," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the loss. "We had lots of chances. We scored four goals."
Two of those goals came off the stick of Marchand. And they were big ones at the time.
Just two-and-a-half minutes after Rich Peverley tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, Marchand gave the Bruins their first lead of the game on a play that was initially created by Patrice Bergeron, who caused a Buffalo turnover in the neutral zone.
Bergeron skated around to gain momentum and avoid Sabres players while the Bruins finished off a successful penalty kill. He then threw a pass to Marchand, who was standing at the left blue line. Marchand took the pass, entered the Sabres' zone, and toasted Tyler Myers wide down the left boards until he got to the bottom of the left circle.
From there, Marchand cut hard out front, pulled a toe drag on Jordan Leopold, and backhanded the puck past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who seemed somewhat confused as to how Marchand got all the way from the left point to the right side of the crease without being touched by the two Buffalo defensemen in front of him.
"I got it at the blue line and I went in and saw a little room in front," said Marchand afterwards, who remained humble about his two goals on Thursday. "I just cut in and the goalie was out of place, so I just put it in."
After giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead, Marchand added another just three minutes later, making it 3-1 on a shot from the high slot that was once again set up by Bergeron, who fed Marchand the pass with which he shot low and beat a screened Miller.
"Seguin did a great job there, and that's where he's developing in his game," said Marchand. "He's working in all areas of the ice. He's battling a lot harder. He's in the corner, he's in front of the net, and that's what we need out of him."
Seguin's screen was nice. But realistically, the Bruins need the kid to put the puck in the net, like Marchand did on Thursday night.
So as Seguin sits there with only one goal (an empty-netter), Marchand leads the team with five, and that's not even counting his game-winning goal in the sixth round on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.
Had the result been different, Marchand would be the hero. Instead, he's just the lone guy who leads the 5-1-1 Bruins in goals scored.
They'll realize it on Friday.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.