Marchand's being Marchand, and B's are delighted

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Marchand's being Marchand, and B's are delighted

BOSTON -- Brad Marchand is just being himself.

That's according to no less an authority than Bruins coach Claude Julien.

The second-line winger is currently the team's leading goal scorer. He scored his sixth in nine games on Sunday night in Buffalo.

One day later, he was applauded not just for his early offensive outburst to begin the shortened season, but also for scoring while doing what he does best. Being an agitator.

"Brad's being Brad," said Julien after Monday's practice at the TD Garden. "You're seeing that now. The chirping is still there. But he's doing a good job of kind of keeping himself in check. His whole game, not just scoring goals, but the plays he's made. He's stickhandling with the puck. Earlier in the season here, you could see him fanning on a lot of shots. Now, all of a sudden, his hands seem to be coming back, and he's making some great plays and some good stickhandling, and he's had some great opportunities. I think he's really coming along."

Marchand went into detail Monday describing how he leads the team in goals, saying that most of the time he's just looking to shoot the puck at an area of the net in which the bodies in front of him allow. He's just trying to get the shots through without being blocked.

He even went so far as to call himself lucky.

"You go through points of the year where things go right, and then you go through others where things don't click as well," said Marchand. "You could go 9 or 10 games without a goal, or go five games with five goals. It's just how things go.

"I've gotten pretty lucky. I'm playing with great players. I don't do a whole lot out there. It's more the guys I'm playing with."

His coach described the Bruins, on Monday, as a team that "scores by committee." But he also said his team is somewhat "snake-bitten" offensively.

Marchand has picked up the slack for them. And it's not his agitation skills putting the puck in the net, it's his offensive abilities that go well beyond what he calls "luck."

"The thing about Brad, he's got a quick release, too," said Julien. "He's got a good wrist shot, a quick release. A lot of times it catches goaltenders off-guard. That's why good goal scorers have those deceptive, quick releases. You don't know when he's going to let it go."

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fooled by that release on Sunday night. And the Bruins hope Marchand can continue being himself.

Bruin players talk the talk after failing to walk the walk vs. Lightning

Bruin players talk the talk after failing to walk the walk vs. Lightning

BOSTON -- All the Bruins -- the leaders and the core veteran group -- were front and center on Thursday night, taking accountability for what had just happened on the ice.

It was ugly: Boston frittered away three one-goal leads in the second period and then came totally unglued in the third period, allowing three consecutive goals in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. There were moments when focus and concentration were clearly an issue, and other moments when the Bruins lacked their usual discipline with veteran players were taking some ill-advised penalties.

With pressure mounting as the Bruins, losers of four in a row, appear to be headed towards their third consecutive late-season collapse out of the playoffs, the players were saying all the right things while vowing to move forward with eight games left.

"I think it's not good enough from top to bottom," said David Backes. "I'll be the first guy to point fingers at my chest and say I need to be better. Tonight was certainly not our best when it's that time of year [and] you need your best every night to win, no matter who you're playing against or what the circumstances may be. This one certainly hurts . . .

"But now's not the time to not be giving ourselves a chance to win and we need to be doing that every night. Tonight, we didn't and we've got eight games left and they all need to be really good-to-great ones so that we can find our way into these playoffs."

Backes finished a minus-2 with just a single shot on net and seemed a step behind Tampa Bay most of the game, so it was proper to him to call himself our for personal ineffectiveness. But as interim coach Bruce Cassidy put it, responsibility for Thursday night -- the low point of the Bruins' season -- rests on "Player 1 through Player 20". And all 20 of the Bruins will be needed to find a successful way out.

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent.