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.

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.


 

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Here are all the links from around the hockey world as NHL trade deadline day is upon us with no promise of fireworks in Boston.

*As referenced above, there’s a good chance the Bruins won’t be doing much today and they’re perfectly okay with that.

*Craig Custance grades every move made ahead of the trade deadline with plenty of action out of the way early.

*The Vancouver Canucks will not be trading Ryan Miller, which is smart given the normal market for No. 1 goaltenders.

*The New York Rangers lost out on the Kevin Shattenkirk rental sweepstakes at the deadline, so they’ve opted for Brendan Smith instead.

*The Florida Panthers may make a move at the deadline (which they did in acquiring Thomas Vanek) but they will not make or break their team with deadline deals.

*Doug Armstrong says that Shattenkirk was frustrated by his role with the St. Louis Blues, and that played into his trade to the Capitals.

*For something completely different: It’s a national holiday in Canada as Jay and Dan will be returning to their natural habitat.