Marchand feeling pressure, looking to add spark

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Marchand feeling pressure, looking to add spark

WILMINGTON Brad Marchand knows he can be better, and it looks like hes starting to realize just how he can do it.

The pesky little winger that could got off to a good start to the season when he managed four points in the first five games of the season, but Marchand has gone ice cold along with the rest of the team over the last two weeks.

Marchand has been held scoreless with a minus-2 in his last six games, and hasnt been much of a factor in the agitating category aside from the second period spectacle against P.K. Subban last week at the Garden. So Marchand knows he needs to get better along with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin skating with him on the gold line, and thats as big a part of the Bruins resurgence as anything else.

Marchand potted 21 goals for the Bruins during the regular season and was legitimate force in the postseason, and that means he has plenty to live up to this season. Right now hes on pace for 16 goals and 33 points just 10 games into the season, and that would be a step down from his breakthrough rookie campaign.

Its more frustrating when youre not producing and youre losing because you know you might be able to make a difference, said Marchand. The more we lose and Im not producing Im feeling some pressure. I just want to be able to help this team win, and Im not doing my job.

Theres a little more pressure on me this year to do certain things and to play a certain way. Obviously I want to live up to the reputation, and produce to help my team win.

So much of the emotion and tone of the Black and Gold is generated and regulated by Marchand and his much bigger cohort Milan Lucic, and they have seemingly been on opposite ends of the spectrum this season. Marchand started off hot as a pistol with points and a frenetic pace on the ice while Lucic slumped with his skates seemingly locked in quicksand. Now Lucic has picked up the pace with goals in each of his last three games and his current spot as the second-leading scorer on the Bruins behind Tyler Seguin in the Bs 10 games this year.

But Marchand has slacked off, and that needs to change. The Bruins are a better, more driven team when both emotional touchstone players are firing off close to full efficiency, and thats what the Bruins will need Tuesday night when they face off against the red-hot Ottawa Senators at the Garden.

Ive been trying to kind of stay away from doing too much of the agitating stuff this year, and just worry about playing, said Marchand. But I think Im going to have to get back to it, so Im kind of playing the way I did last year. Well see how it goes because theres a fine line to doing it.

There are always points in games where you can do something to help. But the refs are watching me very closely right now and I dont want to hurt the team with a costly penalty. Theyre going to call it closer than they might have in the past. Its a fine line while Im trying to figure out how they call it.

Claude Julien was quick to credit Subban for getting under the skin of the Bruins on Saturday night at the Bell Centre, and said that was something Marchand did last season for the Bs as if it was in the past tense. It was a legitimate statement, but it also seemed to be a subtext message from the coach that it was time for Marchand to start stirring things up and getting the Bruins worked up into a frenzied state of mind.

The controlled aggression and anger is when the Bruins are most effective, and Marchand holds part of the key to getting them there.

Now its up to Marchand to figure when and how he can get back to that pesky irritant role that he performs so well, and help the Bs get exactly where they need to be.

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While the sequence of events over the past couple of days could understandably lead one to wonder who will start between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night vs. Nashville, interim coach Bruce Cassidy tried to quell any hint of a goalie controversy.

The vote of confidence was certainly needed after Anton Khudobin’s fifth consecutive win halted the B's four-game losing streak with a huge 2-1 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night in the wake of Rask’s absence while tending to a short-term lower body issue.  

“[Rask] had a good practice today. I spoke with him. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow and we’ll make our decision. He’s our No. 1 goalie, so there’s no way we can skirt our way around that issue. He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision,” said Cassidy. “He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year...and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.

“That’s why we have two goaltender, and [Anton Khudobin] has really stepped up in that last stretch and done what’s asked of him. He’s fixed that area of our game. It’s nice to have a guy that’s your No. 2 that can win you hockey games and play well. It’s a great problem to have, to be honest with you. But Tuukka is our No. 1. But Tuukka is our No. 1. He’s our guy.”

Rask declared himself fit to play after going through a full Monday practice with no issues, but said he’s still waiting to hear the final word on whether he’ll play on Tuesday night vs. the Predators. The Bruins franchise goalie also said he isn’t worried about any recurrence of the lower body injury that “popped up” in the Tampa Bay loss Thursday night, which really doesn’t bring any clarity to the entire situation.

“It was a good day back on the ice. I feel good. We’ll see what the decision is [for the Nashville game], but I feel good today,” said Rask, who is 8-8 with a .892 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average since the All-Star break, compared to Khudobin’s 2-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average. “You need to put the best lineup out as possible, and I wasn’t in any shape to play. So, there are no easy decisions this time of year, but I’ve played a lot of hockey and injuries happen. We talked to the training staff and managers and came to a decision that [Khudobin] was going to play the game, and that’s it.

“It’s obviously tough from a personal standpoint, but it’s never about one guy or two guys. It’s a team game and I feel confident that we’re going to get the job done as long as we play the way we did. It was great to see.”

Clearly, it looks like Rask is going to play vs. Nashville and that’s the safe, easy decision when it comes to a No. 1 goalie getting paid $7 million a season and perhaps it all works out with a fired up Finnish netminder after sitting out Saturday night. But nobody is going to be faulted if they wonder what’s going to wrong with Rask ahead of the next gigantic game Boston will have to play with the Stanley Cup playoffs on the line. 

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins returned to work on Monday after a big win over the weekend, but were one man down by the end of practice at Warrior Ice Arena. David Krejci exited the ice early on Monday and coach Bruce Cassidy said that the playmaking center is battling a bit of an upper body issue.

That was the reason for his abbreviated practice appearance ahead of the game Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

“He’s got a bit of an upper body issue, he’s got a little discomfort,” said Cassidy of Krejci, who has one point and a minus-4 rating over his past four games. “He got treated and I believe he’ll be fine tomorrow. I don’t think it’s anything major, but I can’t speculate [on it]. But that’s the issue.”

There was no play that sticks out from the Saturday night win over the Islanders were Krejci might have hurt himself, but the team’s hope is obviously that it’s something the 30-year-old can keep playing through.

With Krejci having left the ice, Ryan Spooner bumped up to the second line with the following line combos and D-pairings finishing out an hour-long practice:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Spooner-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Nash-Hayes

Beleskey-Moore-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller

 
Rask