Marchand heating up offensively for Bruins

Marchand heating up offensively for Bruins

ST LOUIS -- The Bruins are a different offensive team when Brad Marchand is hitting the high notes offensively, and he’s been back to that level in the last few games for a Black and Gold group starting to score more goals.

Marchand potted a pair of goals in the Bruins 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Tuesday night, and perhaps did it in celebration of also being named an NHL All-Star for the first time on the very same day. Instead it’s more about Marchand hitting a hot stretch on offense as he’s been known to do over the years while doing yeoman’s work for the Bruins goal-scoring ambitions. Marchand now has five goals and seven points in his last four games, and is burying the chances that seemed to be just missing over the last couple of months this season.

Chances like the sniper strike at the end of the first period as a trailer when David Pastrnak found Marchand wide going to the net, and the nifty empty net backhander late in the third period that he simply threw at the net. Different goals to be sure, but evidence that confidence is starting to come back for an elite offensive player like Marchand.

“I think it’s just an example of what our team does when everybody is going and everybody is playing well,” said Marchand, who has 15 goals and a team-leading 38 points on the season in 43 games. “We get a lot of opportunities, and we had opportunities to score even more goals than that tonight. When we play fast and we play hard against other teams we get our chances, and luckily they’re starting to go in.

“But we knew all year that if we continued to push and continued to get opportunities that they would start to go in. You can’t get the [scoring] opportunities that we get every game and not have them ever go in the net.”

The Bruins have scored 30 goals in their last 10 games for an excellent three goals per game average, and the power play has gone 8-for-33 over that span for a 24.2 percent success rate. Those numbers are way up from where they’d been most of the first half this season for the Black and Gold, and Claude Julien thinks players like Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and others rounding into form is the exact reason behind it.

“We all know that when [Marchand] scores it helps a lot,” said Claude Julien. “He was a 37 goal scorer last year and I knew at some point things were going to turn around for him. The same with [Patrice Bergeron]. He’s getting good looks and he’s getting shots on net, and I think his point production is really going to come around as well. This is what we need. We can look in the past or we can build on what we’re doing now, and [the latter] is what we choose to do.”

The Bruins just have to hope that it keeps building upward for Marchand and others as it looks like they’re finally hitting their offensive stride. 

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars being released today. Amazing that the power and influence of the best movie franchise in cinematic history are just as strong today as it was four decades ago. I still remember my first time seeing it as a very little kid with my parents at the dearly departed Starlight Drive-In in North Reading.

*Good guy and recently fired Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army talks about a rough past season with the Avs, and some of the difficulties they faced in a truly terrible season. The former Providence College head coach and good hockey man shouldn’t have much trouble finding his next gig.

*A great move by the Arizona Coyotes, who have hired former Bruins forward Craig Cunningham as a pro scout after his awful medical situation last season that resulted in his leg getting amputated. Cunningham is a hard worker and a hockey lifer, and that’s exactly the kind of traits that the best scouts have in huge amounts.

*The New Jersey Devils have fired a number of employees after a rough season, including a groundbreaking radio analyst.

*With the ultra-competitive demand for an edge in NHL player development, teams are beginning to look to Europe for more and more diamonds in the rough. The Bruins tried that with Joonas Kemppainen, but it didn’t work out so well.

*One of the real big advantages of the Nashville Predators getting to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time is a national spotlight getting flashed on PK Subban, who shows off his personality in a rare ESPN interview of a hockey player featured on the network's magazine show.

*Ryan Johansen isn’t done talking smack to Ryan Kesler after the Predators prevailed over the Ducks, and it’s some delicious playoff hatred.

*Is the NHL ready to draft another goaltender with the last name DiPietro in the first round? Inquiring minds want to know, but I’d recommend the New York Islanders take a pass just in the name of avoiding a repeat of some bad history for them.

*Taylor Hall sounds pretty bitter about the whole “Edmonton Oilers getting into the playoff without him” thing, doesn’t he?

*For something completely different: As mentioned above, it’s a milestone birthday for the Star Wars franchise hitting 40 years old today. Boy, this Boston Globe movie review was right on the money back in 1977.