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: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

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Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while officially in the Dead Zone of the NHL offseason.

*A great sight to see is Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo taking the ice in a summer league in Minnesota after a health scare at the end of last season.

*Nolan Patrick might be fresh off abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be rushed if he plays for the Flyers.

*Here’s an offseason power ranking of the offseason moves for the NHL teams, and the Bruins rank 28th out of 31 teams with the organization being “stuck” in the estimation of this writer. I don’t disagree that they’re kind of paralyzed right now until David Pastrnak signs an extension, with other things being held up because of that. The Paul Postma and Kenny Agostino signings were about as small time as you can get on July 1. But the Bruins’ goal for this summer wasn’t to win in the offseason moves department, but instead continue to let their interesting mix of young players and established veterans grow into an effective mix. Winning the offseason power rankings really isn’t the thing for the Black and Gold, and that’s perfectly okay given their situation.

*There’s a wide gap between the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar with salary arbitration looming.

*It’s a good thing that Barstool Sports is here to ask the really tough questions, like whether Jaromir Jagr is being treated unfairly by NHL teams because of his hair.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Johnny Gaudreau really high on the window for the Calgary Flames to compete over the next three years with the young, talented group they have in place.  

*Nico Hischier is looking to be a playmaking force for the New Jersey Devils right off the bat after being the No. 1 overall pick in Jersey.

*A slew of soon-to-be college sophomores starred in development camps across the NHL and showed what they learned at the NCAA level.

*Classy tweet from the Arizona Coyotes wishing war hero and distinguished statesman John McCain well in his battle with brain cancer.

*Players that are on AHL contracts will be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics this season. While the loss of NHL participation would be a difficult blow to the Olympics and fans, part of me is happy that some of these AHL guys will get to experience playing for their country when they might not have been able to otherwise.  

*For something completely different: Paul Pierce sees some very good things with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, but he’ll need to see “killer instinct” from the Celtics rookie for him to live up to the Pierce comparisons.

 

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

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AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.