Haggerty: Marchand the brightest light in loss

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Haggerty: Marchand the brightest light in loss

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.

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

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.