Marchand understands Julien's message

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Marchand understands Julien's message

Brad Marchand was saying all of the right things as he sat at his locker stall on Friday afternoon.

The Bruins agitator had just finished a surprising practice session at TD Garden that saw Claude Julien mix up his forward lines like a dealer shuffling cards at Twin Rivers Casino. The alterations were eyebrow-raising to just everyone. They alsosent a resounding message to the Nose Face Killah that it was time to step up his production and intensity level.

The Bs coach dropped Marchand onto the fourth line where it all began for the 5-foot-8 winger as a rookie last season, and had him skating with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Super sophomore Tyler Seguin is scoreless in his last 15 NHL playoff games, and found himself dropped to the third line as wellwith Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly.

Julien, Marchand and his teammates were all noncommittal when asked if they expected these new-look forward lines to last heading into Game 5 at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon. But seeing a staple on one of the B's top lines from all season donning a Merlot fourth line practice sweater clearly meant a coaching message was at work.

But it's an important message from Julien. The top six forwards willbear the playoff blame unless they'reable to scratch and grind their way to some offense. So a kick in the pants might be exactly what the doctor ordered for a group of talented young Bruins players that have been satisfied with a comfortable game during the playoffs against a surprisingly ruggedWashington team .

But the Bs agitator also answered in the affirmative when asked whether a move to the fourth line a place he hasnt skated on since the middle of last season when he was firstbumped up next to Patrice Bergeron was the coaching staff sending a clearmessage his way after weeks of inconsistent offensive performance.Was the coach sending a message to his rabble-rousing winger?

A little bit, but its up to me to respond. I know Ive got to be better and I know that. Its on me to step up and bring the game that I can., said Marchand. Ive played with Soupy Gregory Campbell and Thorty Shawn Thornton last year and we played really well together and hopefully we can bring that intensity. We were pretty offensive last year too so hopefully we can bring that as well.

Marchand had 28 goals on the season while finishing second in the goal-scoring racefor the Bruins, but hes managed only eight shots on net during the four playoff games against the Washington Capitals. Of course, Marchand finished behind Seguin who is similarly scoreless during the postseason thus far.But that's a story for another day.The Little Ball of Hate is one of Bostons most fearless and dogged forwards when it comes to sacrificing a little pain and discomfort whileventuring to the front of the painted area in the offensive zone. But he hasn't done much of it during these playoffs. "It's a part of trying to find solutions and its as simple as that. Youve got to mix up guys who are not getting the results that wed like to," said Claude Julien. "So, youre trying to make changes that will maybe spark that part of our game."

This was always the time of year in Bruins' season pastwhen Mark Recchi would talk about players getting out of their comfort zone or doing things that might not necessarily feel good when the playoffs arrive. It's something theBruins havent done enough of it in their first year without Rex during the playoffs.Marchand and Lucic are the most egregious examples of it given their skill set and willingness to grind, and it's time for both prime time forwards to get their signature noses into the danger areas on the ice.

Julien pointed to the goals by Daniel Paille and Brian Rolstonfrom their Game 3 win over the Capitals as exactly what the Bruins should be doing againsta willing and capabledefensive lineup. Paille and Rolston both battled for position in front of the net, and the goals were there when they scroungedfor the rebounds or reached out to tip a puck in front of the cage.

Thats the pathway for Marchand to get back to his linemates - and top six forward glory -after Julien played crazy mad scientist with the forward lines. Its alsothe blueprint Marchand needs to follow for effectivenessin the playoffs and the reminder Julien has attempting to bestow with a practice reminder of his humble beginnings prior to an important Game 4 showdown.

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

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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.