Boston Bruins

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: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line

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Morning Skate: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading. while readying for the last home game of the preseason tonight. Boy that went by quickly.

*Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for the right mix on the fourth line for the Hawks.

*The NHL is coming late to the China party and it makes one wonder what will happen for the Winter Olympic Games set to be played there in 2022.

*PHT writer Adam Gretz has the Arizona Coyotes wanting to retire the freshly-retired Shane Doan’s number in the future.

*Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says that the decision to accept the White House’s invitation was independent of politics. Certainly, it was, but the timing of it and the feeble statement to go along with it left a lot to be desired.

*Pierre Lebrun goes 1-on-1 with Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien to talk about his past, his present and his future behind the bench with the Habs. I had always intended to subscribe to the Athletic, and this is the article that finally got me to do it as I get to read a few moments with one of the classiest individuals in the NHL in Julien. It certainly had a few rocky moments toward the end here in Boston for Julien, but I will always respect that guy as a coach and, more importantly, as a person.  

*For something completely different: an interesting look at Alejandro Villanueva, the only Pittsburgh Steelers player, and a proud veteran, to stand outside the tunnel and on the field for the national anthem prior to the Steelers game on Sunday.


 

'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp

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'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara is one of the oldest players in the NHL at 40 and sometimes those players need a little more time to rest and recharge than the up-and-coming skaters half their age in training camp. That’s the case with Chara as he sat out practice on Monday feeling “under the weather” according to the Bruins. He didn’t skate on Sunday either and won’t play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston’s final home game of the preseason tonight.

Similarly, Kenny Agostino won’t be playing tonight after he suffered an upper-body injury in a victory last week over the Flyers, where the winger also scored the winning goal in overtime. Instead, a couple of young players will get further looks as Matt Grzelcyk is expected to be paired with Brandon Carlo and young Ryan Fitzgerald will get another look in the spot where a healthy Agostino might have drawn back into the lineup on Monday.

“We’re looking for [the young guys] to keep pushing, consistency and be strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re getting closer to NHL lineups with most teams like us and paring down, in general. The expectation is that they’ll see that 82 times. Fitzy has been a nice surprise. I shouldn’t say surprise because I didn’t know a lot about him. But he’s done what we’ve asked, so we’ll give him another game. The Agostino injury has opened up a door as he was probably a guy that would have gone back in after [Thursday] night, has played well and is another guy we don’t know a lot about. So it’s a good opportunity for [Fitzgerald]. I thought he was ahead of some of the other [young] guys, so that’s why we put him back in.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings tonight with just two more exhibition games to go before the regular season gets started:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

Beleskey-Spooner-Pastrnak

Schaller-Kuraly-Backes

Fitzgerald-Nash-Acciari

 
O’Gara-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-Carlo

Lauzon-Postma


Subban