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.

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL pre-July 1 wooing period is underway.

 

*Another draft pick has snubbed the team that selected him after their college career, and this time it’s the Buffalo Sabres. 

 

*It’s a shame to see the demise of the CTV sports staff in Montreal. Brian Wilde is a friend and a colleague, and a voice on the Habs that deserved to be heart up in that city. 

 

*In an emotional letter penned to the only NHL city that he’d ever played in, Marc-Andre Fleury has plenty to say about Pittsburgh. 

 

*The Edmonton Oilers and Peter Chiarelli have signed rugged power forward Zack Kassian to a three-year, $5.85 million contract. Interesting risk here for a player that might be a fourth line guy, and has had some issues toeing the line in the past, but Kassian has been pretty effective for the Oil since they stuck out their neck for him. 

 

*Teemu Selanne is a no-brainer for this season’s Hockey Hall of Fame class, and that’s great. But it will be a crime if three-time Stanley Cup champion and high-ranking lifetime scorer Mark Recchi doesn’t finally get into the Hall this season. Seriously, Recchi has the credentials statistically, he has the Stanley Cups, he has the time playing with some of the greatest players of his generation during his NHL career and he also happens to have been a great person and leader on top of all that. If former Bruins winger Recchi doesn’t hear his name announced this season then something is seriously flawed with the process. 

 

*How exactly will the return of Brandon Saad impact both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane over the next few seasons? One would imagine it’s going to be a positive impact. 

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman thinks that the Columbus Blue Jackets are making a push to be contenders, and will be in the mix for Ilya Kovalchuk. 

 

*Speaking of Blackhawks former Cup champs, Niklas Hjalmarsson is bringing that winning tradition, experience and leadership to the Arizona Coyotes now that he’s been traded. 

 

*For something completely different: What a crazy story this Han Solo movie intrigue has turned into, with reports that the movie’s crew “broke into applause” when it was announced that Ron Howard was taking over direction of the movie. 

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

When the hockey world grew tired of shootouts, the league took something of a half measure. Rather than eliminate the shootout, the league moved overtime from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3. It worked; games that were tied at the end of regulation were more likely to end in the five-minute OT period than before, thus reducing the frequency of shootouts. 

Now, the NHL is dealing with its latest cumbersome gameplay issue: the offsides challenge. A half-measure isn’t as desirable in this case. No more half measures, Walter. 

The offsides challenge was introduced with good intentions, but it’s simply too easy to abuse. And really, when the option is there with only a timeout at risk, why wouldn’t a coach roll the dice that maybe a guy was offsides entering the zone 29 seconds before the goal was scored? 

The option needs to be taken away. Rely on blueline cameras and automatically look at anything close on a goal that’s scored off the rush. It would take two seconds and would save the refs from another Matt Duchene incident while saving the viewer a lot of time. Let anything else go the way of the dry scrape. 

There’s the temptation to instead tweak -- maybe make offsides challengeable if the entry in question occurs within however many seconds -- but that would just mean more time would be wasted seeing if a play was even challengeable. 

It was proposed at the GM meetings in Chicago that if a coach loses an offsides challenge, his team will be assessed a two-minute penalty. That sounds great as a deterrent, but it won’t stop instances of the needless why-the-hell-not challenge. Late in games, coaches might be just as likely to take their chances in a tie game or a one-goal game. That goal allowed could likely be the deciding tally, so if they’re likely to lose anyway, some coaches might still go for the time-wasting Hail Mary. 

And of course, the loser there is the person hoping to catch their train out of North Station in time, or the person who might doze off during the stupid challenge, wake up four hours later on their couch and develop back issues over time. That was a friend, not me. 

Colin Campbell said at the GM meetings in Chicago ahead of the draft that the league is trying to "temper" the negative reaction the offside challenge has received from players and fans. 

There’s really only way to do that, and that’s to get rid of it.

See you in a year when we’re going through the same thing with goalie interference.