All eyes on Marchand as second season begins

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All eyes on Marchand as second season begins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com BruinsInsider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Its natural to wonder just how far Brad Marchand will stepover the line this season.

The 23-year-old madehimself an NHL household name with his performance in the Stanley CupFinals, and cemented his preferred playing style by using the Sedins asa personal punching bags in front of a nationalaudience.

The imageof Marchand jabbing at a submissive Sedin will live on forever, andeven popped up Monday as B-roll footage while sports pundits chimed inon the 31st birthdays for both Henrik andDaniel.

The Bruins' resident agitator scored 21goals in his rookie season and settled for a playoff hero position justbelow Tim Thomas and Dennis Seidenberg on the Stanley Cup ladder, buthes first recognized for his antagonizing ways. Marchand wouldnt haveit any other way, given thats the trouble-making path he carved whilemaking it to the NHL, but he also knows people will be watching him alittle more actively this season.

Marchandsubscribes to the any press is good press theory to most everythingin his NHL career, but even that has itslimits.

You dont want to go over the line, andwhen you do there are consequences from teammates, coaches or themedia, said Marchand. Any time you score a goal you cant help butget excited, and thats just the way it is. Some guys do a little morethan others, and some guys are relaxed.

Theresenough personality in the league now with guys doing stuff, but therecould always be more, added Marchand.

Marchand haswitnessed the criticism that young players like P.K. Subban weather astheir animated goal celebrations get broken down by the fun police, andits always bothered the 5-foot-8 winger. Sometimes it goes over thetop as it did when Marchand gave a golf swing to the Toronto MapleLeafs at the end of last season to signify that their golfing seasonhad begun early.

There is definitely a fine line,but the older you get and the more mature you get definitely keeps youwalking that line.

But Marchand has credited coachClaude Julien with helping to teach him the right way to execute achallenging job being made more difficult by NHK VP of Players SafetyBrendan Shanahan. Marchand was benched against the Islanders midwaythrough last season among other instances of tough love, and those arethe kind of instances Julien is hoping to see less of movingforward.

I dont want to change what I did to gethere, said Marchand. You might want to fine-tune it a bit, but guysfor the most part need to stick with what got them to the NHL.

"They need to be that player. If I change up toomuch then Im not going to be as good player. At the same you alsodont want to be that guy that goes over the line, and then makes afool out your teammates or takespenalties.

Marchand is in the business of makingopponents feel like the fools rather than teammates, and its part ofwhat made him so successful last season during the playoff run.

Its going to be difficult for Marchand to repeatlast years breakthrough campaign, considering the attention andexpectations that will be present following Bostons run to the Cup.The referees will be watching and he wont be sneaking up on anybody,but things will be okay for Marchand as long as hes making a fool outof opponents rather than out of himself.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Rask given maintenance day as Bruins return to practice

Rask given maintenance day as Bruins return to practice

BRIGHTON -- The Bruns got back to work on Friday, but were without their No. 1 goaltender for practice at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of their biggest game of the season Saturday night against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center 

Tuukka Rask was given a maintenance day after playing three games in four days, and Matt Beleskey was also missing “on family leave." The off-day for Rask could have very well about getting away from the rink mentally as it was physically; he has a 3-6-0 record during the month of March. 

Interim coach Bruce Cassidy said after practice that he wouldn’t be making a decision on his starting goalie in Brooklyn until Saturday, but it would be stunning if Rask didn't play.

“We’ll see how things clear up . . . and see where we’re at,” said Cassidy of any Bruins lineup changes against the Isles. “We’ll know by then. [The starting goalie] will be determined tomorrow. I don’t want to get out in front of it, to be honest with you.”

Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Friday’s practice, with Cassidy uncertain of any changes he might make between now and Saturday night: 
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes
Stafford-Krejci-Backes
Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes
Moore-Nash-Acciari
 
Chara-Carlo
Krug-McQuaid
C. Miller-K. Miller

Cassidy: Rask 'needed to be better' . . . and Rask agrees

Cassidy: Rask 'needed to be better' . . . and Rask agrees

BOSTON -- It's the wrong time of year for the No. 1 goaltender to struggle. 

But that's what's happening with Tuukka Rask and the Bruins. The former Vezina Trophy winner allowed five goals, including a couple of softies, on 28 shots in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Lightning, which extended Boston's losing streak to four games. Rask is 3-6-0 in the month of March with a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in nine games.

Rask had some good stops early in the game Thursday as the Bruins slogged their way through a slow start, but began to break down at the end of the second period while playing his third game in four days and 59th of the season. Still, interim coach Bruce Cassidy didn't seem inclined to use overwork as an excuse. 

"He needed to be better tonight," Cassidy said of Rask. "We needed to be better in front of him, and he needed to be better on some of those goals, It's March 23, so really, our focus needs to be there. You'd hope it's more fatigue than focus at this point in the year, but I can only speculate."

Tampa Bay's third goal was an odd-man rush with clear breakdowns in front of Rask, but he was also beaten high short side on his glove hand by Anton Stralman while squared to the shooter. Then in the third period Jonathan Drouin uncorked a shot from the face-off circle that beat Rask far-side under his glove hand for the game-winning goal. 

It was a soft goal any way you break it down, and it had Rask accepting responsibility postgame with a voice that softened and trailed off as he copped to his culpability. 

"You have to [pick up your team]," he said. "A lot of the time that's the case, the goalie has to make a couple extra stops there. [On Thursday] I didn't. That's part of my job to accept the fact that sometimes it's your fault. There were a couple of times I should've made the save but it happens sometimes . . .

"We're fighting for that last [playoff] spot, it doesn't matter who you play against. There are no easy games and everybody should know that. But, then again, look how we started the game, I don't think that was the plan. We got the late lead [in the second period], but then they came back every single time. Then they extended the lead there and got the win. It was just embarrassing."

The Bruins only hope is that Rask gets it back together and provides the brick-wall goaltending Boston is going to need to prevail in the next eight games. There's a good chance that Boston will be riding him the rest of the way, given Boston's currently narrow hold on a wild-card spot with just a couple of weeks to go.