Marchand: Bruins ready to 'sacrifice' and 'suffer'

191545.jpg

Marchand: Bruins ready to 'sacrifice' and 'suffer'

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA The Bruins have been through this exact scenario once before, and theyre hoping they are a little wiser for it the second time around. The Bs approached a Game 6 on the road against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs after fighting all the way back to take a 3-2 lead in that series, and things got out of control in that game. Officiating became a huge factor with refs Kevin Pollock and Chris Lee handing out 11 penalties at the Bell Centre and Milan Lucic getting booted from the game for a boarding call, and the Bs lost a 2-1 hockey game despite playing reasonably well.You can take all kinds of situations and use them to your benefit, and thats one of them, said Claude Julien. I think we felt ready, but obviously it didnt happen. There were some penalties. I think its a matter of learning from experience you get the experience from going through those situations.Its a chance to show weve grown from that, and that were a better team for it.There were times when the Bruins lost their poise just a bit amidst the rowdy, frothy Bell Centre crowd. The Bs took penalties for throwing pucks into the stands and absorbed a too many men on the ice infraction when Mike Cammalleri threw a puck at the Boston bench during a line change. The game sped up on the Bruins, the refs got a little caught up in the atmosphere and Lucic paid a price when he finally got physically involved in the Habs series after watching his step during the first five games -- and having little effect on the proceedings as a result.The Bruins obviously took down Game 7 in overtime against the Habs to advance in the playoffs, but they know a Game 7 is to be avoided against Tampa Bay -- or any other team for that matter -- when the Kevin Garnett factor comes into play at that time in the series: anything is possible.So the Bs veterans and even the fresh-faced first-timers now have an idea what it takes to finally put down a hockey team in an elimination game, and the Black and Gold simply need to take the lessons theyve learned, apply them and go ahead and get it done ahead of time.
Its going to take ice bags, band-aids, stitches and a whole lot of blood to get the fourth win against the Lightning, and theyre willing to pay the price.You can learn from that situation. Maybe we were looking forward to the next series a little bit, said Marchand. We have to be more prepared for that sixth game. Theyre going to come out hard. The biggest thing is how teams battle when theyre fighting for their lives. What theyre willing to sacrifice and put their bodies through we have to make sure we do that exact same thing.If were not willing to put our bodies through the same kind of suffering then theyre going to end up on top. Thats what we have to make sure we do. The way everyone is focused and determined: we know what we have to do and we know how hard its going to be to beat Tampa Bay in their own rink. Were willing to do whatever we need to do tonight.The bottom line: the Bruins know they need to jump out to a quick start, weather the storm from the Lightning and stay within their disciplined lane once things get a little bumpy in a hostile Florida environment. Marchands line has been getting the call to set the tone in nearly every game of the playoffs, and the Bs winger knows its up to him -- along with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi -- to start things off with a strong statement shift.We know theyre going to come out hard, but we have to make sure that were ready for the first shift, said Marchand. If we have a good shift with two or three opportunities and then the next three lines go we have to try to keep from letting them have any momentum in the first few shifts.I think maybe we can build a little emotion off that and give them a little counter-push. Its going to be a tough first five minutes and try to get through it. If we have a more aggressive start and were more determined, then its going to help us. The biggest factor in the first period is who comes out and scores that first. We have to make sure that its us.

Brad Marchand and the rest of his Bruins teammates know that the Vancouver Canucks are waiting for them in the Stanley Cup Finals set to start in the Pacific Northwest.But the Bs antagonist knows it could be a fatal mistake to start talking about the next series before finishing off the Lightning just as the Canucks finished off Jumbo Joe Thornton and the Sharks in double overtime.We dont know who Vancouver is going to be playing. If we start thinking its us then Tampa will come back and take control of the series, said Marchand. We have to make sure we dont worry about that. Were just worried about our game.This time out Eric Furlatt and Kelly Sutherland are the two refs for Game 6, and Guy Boucher pointed out Wednesday morning that theres a lopsided 24-9 margin of penalties against the Lightning in the last several Tampa games Furlatt worked this season. Should be interesting times for the diabolical coaching genius if things start going against the Lightning once the penalties come rolling in.Im aware of it. Very aware of it. Very, very aware of it. It has been a part of our discussions quite a few times in the last game the last few games we did have that particular ref. It is lopsided, said Boucher. The one thing we can control is what we do on the ice and hope that things will be fair like it is with everybody else.Dwayne Roloson is 6-0 in elimination games throughout his career, and isnt the puck-handling goaltender that Mike Smith is behind the net. That will change Bostons attack slightly in terms of dumps and chips into the offensive zone, and allows the Bruins to play a little more of their dump and smash fore-check game.Scrappy forward Sean Bergenheim is a question mark for the Lightning, and coach Guy Boucher said hell be a game time decision for Tampa Bay. Dana Tyrell and Randy Jones stand as potential replacements for Bergenheim if hes unable to answer the bell for Game 6 after lightning things up throughout the playoffs with a team-high nine goals. Hes a huge loss for Tampa if he cant play.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while forgetting that Nancy Kerrigan is on Dancing with the Stars.  

*Here’s the rundown on Brian Gionta celebrating his 1000th NHL game played with the Sabres on Monday night.

*Congrats to good guy Chad Johnson, who was appropriately given the “Good Guy Award” by the Calgary Flames media this week.

*Brock Boeser showed his abilities in a fantastic NHL debut after leaving the college ranks for the Canucks.

*I hope the fancy stats crowd is listening to this: The NHL playoff forecast is raining on the Corsi and fancy stats parade.

*Hope that Eddie Lack is okay after he had to be taken off the ice in a stretcher following a collision at the end of Carolina’s game.

*ESPN’s hockey crew breaks down some expansion mock drafts and have either Adam McQuaid, Jimmy Hayes or Malcolm Subban headed to the Vegas Golden Knights.

*The Benn brothers are gearing up for their first match-up against each other with the Canadiens and Stars set to meet.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jen Neale nails a Philly columnist for a hot take on USA Hockey and says the column illustrates just how much a change is needed there.

*The Winnipeg Jets have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, so now the Colorado Avalanche don’t have to feel so bad about themselves.

*For something completely different: One thing I’ve never wondered is what Tony Robbins thinks about politics.


 

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask went through morning skate Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and proclaimed himself “healthy” to start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after sitting out Saturday with a lower body injury.

So, Rask will play his 60th game of the season tonight and the Bruins will hope that a dominating performance will douse some of the brush fire that’s cropped up around the Black and Gold’s goaltending situation. 

After Boston’s No. 1 goaltender coughed up five goals in a rough loss to Tampa and then sat out the must-win against the Islanders on Saturday night, questions about Rask’s big-game reliability are absolutely there after he also sat out last season’s pivotal finale against the Ottawa Senators.

Still, Rask said he hasn’t paid attention to the media scrutiny and is instead looking forward to locking up against fellow Finn Pekka Rinne of the Preds.

“I haven’t listened to the [media scrutiny], but I’m sure they’ve been very nice to me,” said Rask. “I don’t listen. I don’t read it. Doesn’t affect me. You know where you stand, and how good you play and when you don’t play good. That’s all you need. You don’t need to listen to the outside voices because it’s just going to distract you. People have opinions and they can say whatever they want.

“This is what we play for, right? It’s fun. It’s going to come down to the wire again and it’s going to be another battle tonight. I don’t even know how many games I’ve played. I feel good. I think I’ve said all throughout the year there’s going to be ups and downs, and you just try to stay even-keeled. It’s something that you learn not getting too high or too low, and just win as many games as you can.”

The bottom line with Rask is that there are major question marks about his standing as a No. 1 goaltender that he needs to address in these final seven games, media scrutiny or no media scrutiny. A No. 1 goalie worth $7 million per season can hold up with a 60-plus game workload and not fade down the stretch while in need of mental and physical breaks. 

The slender Rask has shown signs of slippage in his performance when the workload is heavy, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted as much on Tuesday while not guaranteeing that his No. 1 will be able to play in six of the final seven games down the stretch.

“We’re trying to write our own story this year. I know how the last few years have ended, and we’d like a different ending,” said Cassidy. “I think this group should be afforded that right to write their own stories, and we’ll see how it plays out. Obviously last week did not play out well for us and we heard about it, and that’s part of the business.

“Saturday, hopefully we turned a corner, but we won’t know that until we get going forward here. I’m asking [Tuukka] to play well tonight, and I’m asking the players in front of him to play well tonight. The workload for Tuukka has to be monitored, and whether the whole world agrees with it or not, that’s the situation. I think the data backs up that he’s better with ‘X’ amount of rest and that’s just the way it is. It’s an inexact science and we’re trying to do a better job with that. The second half we’ve really tried to monitor it and last week was a bit of an exception. At crunch time things change a little bit, and that’s what we’re trying to balance.”

In an ideal world, a hockey team scratching and clawing for the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have to so closely monitor whether a goaltender is about to break down because he’s pushing 60 games in a season, especially when he’d enjoyed a five-day bye just a month earlier.

There are also questions about Rask’s reliability after sitting out last weekend, whether it was by his choice, the team’s choice or a mutually agreed upon decision after his lower body discomfort cropped up. A No. 1 goalie is no longer worthy of that lofty mantle when a team can’t rely on big-game performances from him, or even if he'll be available, once the pressure is on in the final weeks of the season.

So, there are plenty of questions to answer for Rask down the stretch here and they may go a long way toward determining his long-range future with an organization that invested heavily in him a few years ago. Those answers begin on Tuesday night against the Predators and it certainly feels like it will be game-to-game with him for final seven contests of the regular season.