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.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.