Marchand steps up with two goals vs. Kings

612178.jpg

Marchand steps up with two goals vs. Kings

BOSTON -- Perhaps "brat" isn't the exact term that opposing teams use when describing Brad Marchand on the ice.

But it's how Bruins coach Claude Julien describes him.

Julien said just as much on Tuesday morning, prior to Tuesday night's game with the Los Angeles Kings at the TD Garden.

The already over-used quote came as a result of the 2,500 fine handed down to Marchand on Monday night, for slew-footing Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen last Monday.

Upon hearing of the fine, Julien said he wasn't surprised, because, as he told the media on Tuesday, he "addressed it right after the period.

Seeing the way Marchand plays -- gritty, energetic, hard-nosed, sometimes greasy -- it's not the easiest task in the world to keep the Bruins' young forward from crossing the line.

"I want him to be a good brat, not a bad brat," said Julien prior to Tuesday's game.

On Tuesday night against the Kings, Marchand was the former, scoring two goals in a 3-0 Bruins win.

"I think offensively he was good tonight," said Julien after the win. "He scored some big goals for us. On both of them, Bergy was winning draws and making things happen there. But, Brad is certainly capable of using his shot and scoring some goals for us. So that was nice to see."

Marchand's first of the night gave the B's a 2-0 lead, 7:43 into the second period, when he quickly fired a shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick from the top of the left circle, after Patrice Bergeron won a face-off cleanly.

It was the result of a well-practiced face-off strategy.

"That first one, we've tried that a few times this year, and it hasn't come together," said Marchand. "But it's a tough play to do. Everything's got to go right. But when it works, it feels good."

That not only put the Bruins up by two, but it also marked Marchand's 10th goal of the season, making him Boston's fourth player with double digits in goals scored this season, joining Tyler Seguin (13), Chris Kelly (11), and Milan Lucic (10).

But it was Marchand's second goal of the night -- 5:35 into the third period -- that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead and was the dagger.

"That next goal was going to be a big goal for either team," said Julien. "For us, giving us some breathing room and a 3-0 lead. If it was them, it was going to become a real game, and the way we were giving them that space and the amount of shots they were getting, it would have made for a really interesting finish.

"But that was a big goal, and again, on that one, when you look back at it, the second effort. Not just winning the draw, but making sure he put that puck towards Marchand, who walked in alone on net. The big effort was from Bergy, and Marchand finished it off."

After last season, it's not a surprise to see Marchand finish the way he did on Tuesday night. And it's not the first time he's positively responded to punishment.

"You want to show that you can learn from mistakes and different things," said Marchand after the win. "You just want to be able to bounce back, and show that it doesn't affect you, and it doesn't bother your game.

"One thing Julien wants me to do is play inside the rules and stay inside the laws of the game. And it's a fine line, but it's something I'm learning to do, and he's kind of curving my game to make sure I do that.

"It's a very fine line, and there's going to be times when you cross it, and times when you don't," added Marchand. "And I know when I do. I know there's consequences, and I've dealt with getting benched plenty of times throughout my career. It's nothing new. The big thing is you have to respond, and make sure you learn from it. That's what I'm trying to do."

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

bruins-noel-acciari.jpg

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.