Boston Bruins

Marchand quietly takes team lead in goals

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Marchand quietly takes team lead in goals

BOSTON -- After a defensive nightmare like Thursday night at the TD Garden, there weren't many Bruins players or coaches leaving the building throwing praise Brad Marchand's way.
Nothing against "Marchy," but his two goals in a 7-4 loss weren't really at the forefront of postgame discussion.
But when the B's wake up on Friday, they're all going to realize something.
Marchand is the team's lone leading goal scorer.
On a normal, defensive-minded night in which Bruins defensmen are picking up loose bodies out front instead of allowing odd-man rushes that see wide-open wingers tee-off on cross-ice one-timers, four goals for the B's is more than enough to walk away with two points.
And had they played that normal defensive-minded style that Boston is accustomed to seeing on Thursday night, the Bruins would still be undefeated in regulation through seven games to begin the season. And in that case, Marchand would be the talk of the town.
"I thought offensively we did a good job," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the loss. "We had lots of chances. We scored four goals."
Two of those goals came off the stick of Marchand. And they were big ones at the time.
Just two-and-a-half minutes after Rich Peverley tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, Marchand gave the Bruins their first lead of the game on a play that was initially created by Patrice Bergeron, who caused a Buffalo turnover in the neutral zone.
Bergeron skated around to gain momentum and avoid Sabres players while the Bruins finished off a successful penalty kill. He then threw a pass to Marchand, who was standing at the left blue line. Marchand took the pass, entered the Sabres' zone, and toasted Tyler Myers wide down the left boards until he got to the bottom of the left circle.
From there, Marchand cut hard out front, pulled a toe drag on Jordan Leopold, and backhanded the puck past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who seemed somewhat confused as to how Marchand got all the way from the left point to the right side of the crease without being touched by the two Buffalo defensemen in front of him.
"I got it at the blue line and I went in and saw a little room in front," said Marchand afterwards, who remained humble about his two goals on Thursday. "I just cut in and the goalie was out of place, so I just put it in."
After giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead, Marchand added another just three minutes later, making it 3-1 on a shot from the high slot that was once again set up by Bergeron, who fed Marchand the pass with which he shot low and beat a screened Miller.
"Seguin did a great job there, and that's where he's developing in his game," said Marchand. "He's working in all areas of the ice. He's battling a lot harder. He's in the corner, he's in front of the net, and that's what we need out of him."
Seguin's screen was nice. But realistically, the Bruins need the kid to put the puck in the net, like Marchand did on Thursday night.
So as Seguin sits there with only one goal (an empty-netter), Marchand leads the team with five, and that's not even counting his game-winning goal in the sixth round on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.
Had the result been different, Marchand would be the hero. Instead, he's just the lone guy who leads the 5-1-1 Bruins in goals scored.
They'll realize it on Friday.

Kuraly 'keeping it simple' in camp after playoff success with Bruins

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Kuraly 'keeping it simple' in camp after playoff success with Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – Just a few months ago, Sean Kuraly was the talk of the NHL world after a clutch two-goal performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The 24-year-old suited up for four of the B’s playoff games against the Senators after spending most of the season in Providence, and memorably scored a pair of goals – including the double-overtime winner – in an epic Game 5 win that took the series back to Boston. That’s not too shabby for a kid that had played just eight NHL games for the B’s during the regular season, but then really clicked with David Backes and Noel Acciari once the playoffs got rolling.

MORE: Thoughts and observations from first weekend of B's camp

Unsurprisingly, Kuraly now hopes to parlay that playoff confidence into carving out a roster spot for himself at the NHL level to start this season. It remains to be seen if that will happen in a crowded field of forwards, but Kuraly certainly has raised expectations heading into his second NHL training camp.

“For me the first thing is to put the [playoffs] behind you, realize it went well and then maybe realize that there’s another training camp and another year to go here,” said Kuraly, who said the coolest part of the Game 5 heroics was getting recognized for the first time while out to eat in Boston. “It’s just sticking to my game, knowing the things that worked and really keeping it simple. I think I just had a really clear role and it was communicated very clearly to me how I can help the team in the playoffs.

“It was pretty cool to see that I could help the team, and that a simple North/South kind of game is something that the team could use. Just use my body, use my speed and get pucks behind their ‘D’ while playing a good puck management game. Everyone is here to win a job, and I’m no different. I was trying to do the same thing last year, and I’m going to do the same thing this year [trying to] make the team. I’m hoping to do that in this camp.”

It’s easy to forget just how effective Kuraly was at the end of the season, but the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder finished with 10 shots on net in the four playoff games for the Black and Gold. Not only was he strong and heavy on the forecheck, but he was skating with great pace for a big man and seemed to have knocked all of the hesitation out of his game. That’s exactly what the Bruins coaching staff is looking for as they put together their roster to start the season.

It sure sounds like Kuraly has a good shot to least start the season as the 13th forward on the NHL roster, and it will be hard to keep him off the ice if he’s playing with the same determination he showed during the postseason. If Kuraly can summon a large percentage of what he showed in the playoffs, then it will be pretty difficult for the Bruins coaching staff to turn away from him.

“It’s hard to put a lot [of expectation] on him because it was a short window. It’s a different situation to me than Charlie [McAvoy], but it’s more of an excitement for me like ‘Can he bring that for us again this year from Day One?,” said Bruce Cassidy of Kuraly, who finished with 14 goals and 26 points in 54 games for the P-Bruins last season. “He brought a lot of energy and gave us an identity at the bottom of the lineup that was going to be hard to play against.

“And he created in the offensive end, and we didn’t know if that was going to come right now. It’s a bit like Noel [Acciari] where all of a sudden they were scoring and it was like ‘Wow.’ Those kinds of players are invaluable in April and May. Sometimes they get lost in the shuffle during the regular season. He went to Providence after the [Bruins elimination] but he wasn’t really able to play. Sometimes then you really see growth in players when they go out there with that kind of confidence. That’s the part we weren’t really sure about this summer, but he looks really good right now [in training camp]. Like a lot of guys these preseasons will be big to see what kind of steps they’ve taken.”

Kuraly won’t be in the lineup for Monday night’s preseason opener against the Canadiens, but it shouldn’t take long to notice him in the preseason if he’s playing the same heavy, high-energy game he did while elevating his game in the playoffs. 

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Morning Skate: The need for speed is taking over the NHL

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Morning Skate: The need for speed is taking over the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while it’s the start of a new week.

* FOH (Friend of Haggs) Josh Cooper has a piece on new Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley as he gets ready for his first season behind the bench.

* Joffrey Lupul has apparently called out the Toronto Maple Leafs, in since-deleted Instagram posts, for some shady dealings with injured players. This is certainly not unique to Toronto, but it’s not often you see a player actually come out and say it.

* It was time for the Boston Bruins to get previewed by Sportsnet as part of their league-wide season preview, and they sound an optimistic tone about the Bruins returning to the playoffs provided they can fix their backup goaltending situation. I’d say that’s pretty fair, though I’d also say the Bruins need a couple of their young forwards to really step up as well.

* The letters to everybody in NHL training camp is a pretty amusing example of the different avenues that the NHL Athletic can go with their content.

* Interesting story out of Florida that Panthers GM Dale Tallon tried to trade back for Erik Gudbranson with Vancouver, but was nixed when Jason Demers used his no-trade clause to veto the deal

* The days of bulk and oversized NHL players is ending, and the need for speed is taking over the entire league. I can say with certainty that has been a point of discussion with some Bruins players early in this year’s training camp as well.

* For something completely different: I can honestly say I’ve never really thought very deeply about the sound of a woman’s voice announcing sports when I’ve heard it during a broadcast. I guess I can be glad about that after reading this New York Times piece.