Marchand takes it to another level

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Marchand takes it to another level

As audacious and bold as he can be while rousing the rabble on the ice, Brad Marchand never allowed himself to dream hed collect a hat trick in an NHL game.

Sure the Nose Face Killah had finished off 21 goals in his rookie season, and he had himself a career-making postseason performance on the way to Stanley Cup glory. But Marchand has taken another quantum jump forward in his second NHL season, and didn't even need Scott Bakula to accomplish it. Marchand snapped off three goals, a career-high five points and finished with a gaudy plus-5 in Bostons 8-0 skinning of the Florida Panthers Friday night, and added another chapter in what's become an increasingly surprising career in Boston.

The most amazing part: Marchand managed to pack all of that action into just12:48 of ice time in the blowout victory. That is what you'd call an action-packed evening of hockey.

Hes good at finding the puck around the net, and also finding ways to put the puck in. Hes pretty resilient, too at just finding ways to score, said Patrice Bergeron. Right now hes playing really well, and you cant ask more than four goals in two games, can you? Its great for him to see that, and hopefully he can stay like that.

It was Marchands first career hat trick, obviously, and it was a nice little collection of the items inthe left wingers tool box: tenacity, skill and a willingness to push the envelope all wrapped up into a single evenings performance. The three scores also pushed Marchand into the team lead with 15 goals on the season, and placed him right on a pace for more than 30 goals this year.That's the official line that turns a hockey player from nice offensive piece into a bone fide goal-scoring force, and it looks like Marchand is headed there just as Milan Lucic went there last season.

Rather than thumping his chest while wearing a Nose Face Killah t-shirt or taking all the credit in the postgame dressing room, Marchand spread out some love among his teammates in a season thats looking every bit as special as his rookie campaign.

I think Ive just been fortunate enough to play with great players and I just kind of feed off them and get some lucky goals, said Marchand, who did manage to work in that his "Nose Face Killah" t-shirts are being sold on the street. I never expected to be in that position and I dont expect to be there long. But its a lot of fun being on this team and being in the winning ways right now, so hopefully it keeps going.

In true catalyst fashion Marchand got the ball rolling in the blowout win with an early shorthanded goal that knocked the Panthers right off their pegs. The Bruins coaches wanted Boston to overwhelm a physically exhausted Florida crew right off the opening puck drop, and Marchand was like a solitary energizer bunny.

The 23-year-old penalty killing dervish carried the puck through the entire Florida power play unit after receiving the Bergeron dish, and flipped a quick shot Jose Theodore before the Florida goaltender knew what was happening. It was Marchands first shorthanded goal this season after he led the Bruins with fiveshort-handed goals last year.

The Bs agitator was able to relax and watch as his teammates popped in five unanswered goals after his first strike, but then Marchand started cooking things up again in the third period.

He got a gift on his opening shift of the third period when a pass toward Bergeron at the goal mouth took a fortunate bounce off a skateand got behind Scott Clemmensen. With two goals and nearly an entire third period to play, the hat trick watch was on. Even Marchand and his linemates were talking about it onthe uber-confident Boston bench as the minutes melted away.

We were on the bench before our shift and Seguin was like, Be ready, if I get any pucks in the slot, Im giving it to you, said Marchand. So when he got it I knew it was coming over to me. I just put it in the open net.Seguina and Marchand took care of the final piece of the hat trick with some nice give-and-go passing that ended with the B's winger snapping a shot off top shelf over Clemmensen.

The best part about Marchands evening: there werent any bad brat moments to take away from his turn as an offensive force. Instead Marchand and Co. pounded away at the Florida defense with 11 total shots on net for his forward line, and the agitator stayed out of the fray.Rather thantaking penalties or spinning out of control, Marchand was making the Panthers pay with his shorthanded derring-do.

To Marchands coach thats a sign of maturity in the players game that goes beyond the obvious production on the ice.

The experience is whats taking over right now. Im not going to hide the fact that there are still some things we deal with whether its a weekly basis or a daily basis, said Claude Julien. Hes a real emotional individual and sometimes he just gets himself all wound up. You have to point him down a little bit. But, I think hes done a good job of dealing with that.

Whenever he does kind of get wound up you just kind of grab him and touch him by the shoulder and he gets it now. Thats what makes him a good player. Ive said it many times: as long as he doesnt cross that line then hes good at it. I think hes got to play with emotion to be successful, and I think hes learning to do that more. His experience from last year to this year has really helped him.

So what does Marchand do for an encore after Julien has given him the all-too familiar tap on the shoulder?

How about helping Patrice Bergeron become the final member of their line to register a hat trick after Marchands three goals against Florida and Seguins memorable hat trick in Toronto earlier this season?

Thats the kind of mission a good teammate would gladly accept moving forward this year, and one that the Marchandwill no doubt embrace after "Nose Face Killing" the Panthers.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.