Marchand takes it to another level


Marchand takes it to another level

As audacious and bold as he can be while rousing the rabble on the ice, Brad Marchand never allowed himself to dream hed collect a hat trick in an NHL game.

Sure the Nose Face Killah had finished off 21 goals in his rookie season, and he had himself a career-making postseason performance on the way to Stanley Cup glory. But Marchand has taken another quantum jump forward in his second NHL season, and didn't even need Scott Bakula to accomplish it. Marchand snapped off three goals, a career-high five points and finished with a gaudy plus-5 in Bostons 8-0 skinning of the Florida Panthers Friday night, and added another chapter in what's become an increasingly surprising career in Boston.

The most amazing part: Marchand managed to pack all of that action into just12:48 of ice time in the blowout victory. That is what you'd call an action-packed evening of hockey.

Hes good at finding the puck around the net, and also finding ways to put the puck in. Hes pretty resilient, too at just finding ways to score, said Patrice Bergeron. Right now hes playing really well, and you cant ask more than four goals in two games, can you? Its great for him to see that, and hopefully he can stay like that.

It was Marchands first career hat trick, obviously, and it was a nice little collection of the items inthe left wingers tool box: tenacity, skill and a willingness to push the envelope all wrapped up into a single evenings performance. The three scores also pushed Marchand into the team lead with 15 goals on the season, and placed him right on a pace for more than 30 goals this year.That's the official line that turns a hockey player from nice offensive piece into a bone fide goal-scoring force, and it looks like Marchand is headed there just as Milan Lucic went there last season.

Rather than thumping his chest while wearing a Nose Face Killah t-shirt or taking all the credit in the postgame dressing room, Marchand spread out some love among his teammates in a season thats looking every bit as special as his rookie campaign.

I think Ive just been fortunate enough to play with great players and I just kind of feed off them and get some lucky goals, said Marchand, who did manage to work in that his "Nose Face Killah" t-shirts are being sold on the street. I never expected to be in that position and I dont expect to be there long. But its a lot of fun being on this team and being in the winning ways right now, so hopefully it keeps going.

In true catalyst fashion Marchand got the ball rolling in the blowout win with an early shorthanded goal that knocked the Panthers right off their pegs. The Bruins coaches wanted Boston to overwhelm a physically exhausted Florida crew right off the opening puck drop, and Marchand was like a solitary energizer bunny.

The 23-year-old penalty killing dervish carried the puck through the entire Florida power play unit after receiving the Bergeron dish, and flipped a quick shot Jose Theodore before the Florida goaltender knew what was happening. It was Marchands first shorthanded goal this season after he led the Bruins with fiveshort-handed goals last year.

The Bs agitator was able to relax and watch as his teammates popped in five unanswered goals after his first strike, but then Marchand started cooking things up again in the third period.

He got a gift on his opening shift of the third period when a pass toward Bergeron at the goal mouth took a fortunate bounce off a skateand got behind Scott Clemmensen. With two goals and nearly an entire third period to play, the hat trick watch was on. Even Marchand and his linemates were talking about it onthe uber-confident Boston bench as the minutes melted away.

We were on the bench before our shift and Seguin was like, Be ready, if I get any pucks in the slot, Im giving it to you, said Marchand. So when he got it I knew it was coming over to me. I just put it in the open net.Seguina and Marchand took care of the final piece of the hat trick with some nice give-and-go passing that ended with the B's winger snapping a shot off top shelf over Clemmensen.

The best part about Marchands evening: there werent any bad brat moments to take away from his turn as an offensive force. Instead Marchand and Co. pounded away at the Florida defense with 11 total shots on net for his forward line, and the agitator stayed out of the fray.Rather thantaking penalties or spinning out of control, Marchand was making the Panthers pay with his shorthanded derring-do.

To Marchands coach thats a sign of maturity in the players game that goes beyond the obvious production on the ice.

The experience is whats taking over right now. Im not going to hide the fact that there are still some things we deal with whether its a weekly basis or a daily basis, said Claude Julien. Hes a real emotional individual and sometimes he just gets himself all wound up. You have to point him down a little bit. But, I think hes done a good job of dealing with that.

Whenever he does kind of get wound up you just kind of grab him and touch him by the shoulder and he gets it now. Thats what makes him a good player. Ive said it many times: as long as he doesnt cross that line then hes good at it. I think hes got to play with emotion to be successful, and I think hes learning to do that more. His experience from last year to this year has really helped him.

So what does Marchand do for an encore after Julien has given him the all-too familiar tap on the shoulder?

How about helping Patrice Bergeron become the final member of their line to register a hat trick after Marchands three goals against Florida and Seguins memorable hat trick in Toronto earlier this season?

Thats the kind of mission a good teammate would gladly accept moving forward this year, and one that the Marchandwill no doubt embrace after "Nose Face Killing" the Panthers.

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.