Marchand responds to Julien's challenge

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Marchand responds to Julien's challenge

If only it were so easy to get every hockey player going as it was for motivating Brad Marchand.

The pesky Bs right winger was called out by his coach the day before Game 5 after four lackluster playoff performances, and was put on the fourth line at practice far from his customary top six forward spot on Bostons roster.

Claude Julien knew the prideful Marchand would respond to such a tactic, and that's exactly what he did with a two-point performance that included a big rebound goal in a 4-3 loss for the Bruins in Game 5 at TD Garden. The return to the front of the net was a welcome one for Marchand, who is one of the most hard-nosed Bruins when it comes to paying the price around the cage.

His efforts werent enough to seal a victory, but Marchands five shots on net in 16 plus minutes of ice time registered as his best effort of the playoffs.

After the game he credited the quick trip to the fourth line which was over after the first shift of Game 5 with getting him back into his hard-working frame of mind that allowed him to have success in the first place.

I know I have to be better and I try to prepare that way that I have to be better out there and I felt better today, said Marchand, who notched his first goal of the playoffs in the defeat. We seemed to have a little bit more energy at times there. We got down on a couple, we battled back, and I thought we really took it to them after that. We had a pretty solid game, but definitely got to get guys scoring a little bit more.

Marchand was being a good team guy in accentuating the need for more scoring while glossing over a pair of soft Tim Thomas goals in the third period, but improvement in both areas is required if the Bruins want to push things to seven games. Julien gave Marchand an attaboy after the game, and soft-peddled the message rendered when he dropped Marchand and Tyler Seguin to the bottom lines during Fridays practice.

It wasnt just a message: it was kind of getting another look at practice. At the same time, you know your players. I knew that Brad Marchand would certainly respond, said Julien. It was important for him to be put on a line that he deserves to be on and he responded well tonight. I thought he played really hard and played a great game for us.

Julien will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a workable plan to awaken the offense in Milan Lucic and David Krejci, but it appears the Little Ball of Hate is back on track after a reality check.

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.

 

Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

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Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

The Bruins' lineup for Friday night’s preseason game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings will include players from both practice groups filling into a more veteran-laden B’s lineup in Motown.

The Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid pairing that wasn’t great on Wednesday night will get right back into it, and the John-Michael Liles-Brandon Carlo pairing that was so good on Monday night will get another look as well. Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner will be the established NHL veterans along with McQuaid and Liles suiting up for Boston’s first road exhibition of the preseason.

Here’s the entire lineup, with Boston now serving as one of the last NHL teams that is yet to make any cuts from their camp roster: Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Seth Griffith, Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Jeremy Lauzon, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Adam McQuaid, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins will be traveling to Philadelphia for another preseason game on Saturday and that may perhaps be the first time B’s fans get to see returning World Cup veteran players David Backes, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask after they began practicing with the camp group on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.