By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Its funny the way things work out sometimes.
Brad Marchand was probably the Bruin least expected to hurtle out of the starting gate firing on all cylinders, but the 23-year-old was the closest thing the Bs had to a good player in the 2-1 opening night loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden on Thursday.
With hard work, the Marchand storyline has gone from hard-partying summer to hard-working summer with a solid first effort under his belt.
Marchand basically picked up where he left off last year by serving in two capacities: The last Bs player to score a goal during last years Stanley Cup Finals on an empty-netter in Game 7, and the first to score this season when he busted through in the first period.
It was during Bostons first power play of the night, as Tyler Seguin skipped a long stretch pass by a pair of defenders to free up Marchand behind the Flyers defense. Marchand did the rest, speeding toward the net and flipping a backhanded double-move past Ilya Bryzgalov to open the scoring.
He did . . . he did bring the energy, agreed coach Claude Julien. We had talked about everybody trying to find a way to bring some energy to our game and build some momentum. We wanted to get our fans into it and everything else.
Some guys like Marchand did a better job than others, but I thought we could have had some better results in regard to that. We needed to find a way to get ourselves into the game more, and rile up our fans as well. They could have been a big boost for us tonight. But we didnt do anything to excite them except for the first 10 minutes, when we missed the net I dont know how many times.
Unfortunately that was it for the net-missing Bruins, who surrendered two goals in the final minute of the first period and then couldnt finish any other chances through the final 40 minutes of an emotionally empty performance.
While Marchand should have been one of the few Bs players proud of his individual performance amid some pretty uninspired, mediocre hockey, the left wing was hard on himself for a few late mistakes while also readily admitting the impressive banner-raising might have sucked the life out of the team. So many players had high energy for the first 10 minutes and lost it as the game unfolded, and thats consistent with a team that peaked before the opening puck was dropped.
It was a great ceremony before the game, but you know it was a tough finish tonight, said Marchand. I thought we had a good start. We got an early goal there and then we kind of let our guard down a little bit, and they took over. We just have to regroup and bounce back.
We were still trying to get back into things there, but Bryzgalov made a few big saves that really kept them in the game. We do have to capitalize on our opportunities. We had a lot of chances there in the first where we missed the net. It doesn't even count as a scoring chance, so we do have to be better in that area. But that will come with time.
The good news: Marchand is a key player for the Bruins in a season dedicated to repeating as Stanley Cup champs, and his three shots on net and goal scored were an excellent start. It could have been a very different result for the pugnacious winger and the Bs, too, if the diminutive forward could have connected on a backhanded set up from David Krejci in the second period. But Marchand didnt get good enough wood on the backhand as he barreled down the slot area toward the net, and that allowed Bryzgalov to make a flashy glove save that damped Bostons spirits.
While the Bruins were largely the same cast of the characters, the Flyers were new and improved with a goaltender who can actually execute a high degree of difficulty save or two with the game on the line. Perhaps recognizing that the Bruins were facing an uphill emotional battle Marchand attempted to pester Philly golden boy James van Riemsdyk into some kind of hockey skirmish, but the Flyers forward wisely skipped any on-ice high jinks.
Unfortunately for Marchand and the Bruins, a goal, a little goading and a few good chances gone unfinished werent enough to make it a happy ending for the first banner-raising ceremony on the Garden ice in nearly four decades.