Marchand, Bruins not surprised by suspension

191545.jpg

Marchand, Bruins not surprised by suspension

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

NASHVILLE Brad Marchand didnt think much of the hit on Columbus forward R.J. Umberger right after it happened, or in the moments after the game was over.But the pesky Bs agitator couldnt really dispute the video or the NHLs decision on Thursday morning to suspend hom for two games after clocking Umberger in the back of the head with a raised elbow.When I saw the DanyHeatley decision yesterday, I kind of expected the Marchand decision to be in the same vicinity, said Claude Julien of the NHL's decision to suspend the San Jose Sharks sniper after he delivered a blow to the head. You cant be hypocritical. If the whole league is saying they want to clean it up, then you cant whine and complain every time they make a decision thatcomes in against you.We have to live with it and Marchand has to learn from it. If he learns from it, then hopefully it wont happen again.Marchand continued to maintain he was attempting to play the puck and make contact withUmberger in the shoulder, but he knew there wasnt much recourse given thatthe contact arrived at Umberger from the blind side. That Marchand's hit came duringthe very week the NHL general managers are meeting to discuss concussion reduction within the league made it a fait accompli that the league would make an example out of him.I understand where the league is coming from, said Marchand. Theyre obviously cracking down on head hits right now. Im disappointed to miss a couple of games and its always frustrating to have to watch your team play.But I understand why it happened. The biggest thing is to regroup now and get ready to play when Im called back to action.Marchand will miss tonights game against the Nashville Predators and Saturday nights game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, and then should be cleared for a return to the lineup. Hell be more than 6,000 lighter in the wallet after missing out on the two game checks, but dont expect Marchand to turn into a hockey choir boy when he returns.Marchand knows theres no place in the game for vicious, dirty head shots, but he left no doubt hell continue to play on the edge when asked if a two-game slap from the NHL would steal any bite out of his gritty, grating style of play. No. Not at all. You go out there and you cant really change your game, said Marchand. Thats how I had to play to get here, and thats how Ill have to play to stay here. If I start to change my game then maybe I wont be as effective.It happens. Its hockey. Its part of the sports. There will always be hits to the head because of how fast guys are and how big, strong and physical guys are. The biggest thing is that you cant be taking cheap shots. Thats where you have to draw the line.With Marchand out of the lineup that obviously means that both Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin will play against the Predators Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena smack in the middle of Music City.Umberger went down in the second period when he caught an elbow from Marchand at center ice. No penalty was called, but supplemental discipline may be come down under Rule 48.1, which outlines an illegal check to the head as "A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted andor the principal point of contact."Claude Julien said it would be a game-time decision with their defensemen given Andrew Ferences improving health, but Ference was on the ice much longer than the rest of his fellow blueliners. It might behoove Julien and the Bs coaching staff to go with a 100 percent healthy Steve Kampfer as Ference continues to heal his lower body. Adam McQuaid said that his left foot was okay and that hed be ready to go against the Predators.Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, but it was an optional skate for the Bruins Thursday morning at Bridgestone Arena. Rask is coming off a solid win against the Columbus Blue Jackets that should be considered a stolen win, and Thomas now hasnt played since dropping a game to the New York Islanders six days ago on Long Island.

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

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

bruins_islanders_riley_nash_2_032517.jpg

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

bruins_anton_khudobin_032517.jpg

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.