Rask, Marchand named NHL All-Stars for first time

Rask, Marchand named NHL All-Stars for first time

ST. LOUIS – The expectation was always that goalie Tuukka Rask was going to make the NHL All-Star Game when it was announced, but the Bruins got a pleasant surprise on Tuesday when both Rask and Brad Marchand were named to the Atlantic Division team.

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It’s a first-time honor for Rask and Marchand and continues to illustrate the changing of the guard on Boston’s roster, where in years past Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron were standby selections for the Black and Gold. Marchand was excited about the unanticipated honor and is looking forward to the big stage after starring for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey earlier this season.

For the second year in a row, the format is a 3-on-3 tournament, with players split into four teams by division. The All-Star Game is Jan. 29 in Los Angeles. 

“It’s a huge honor. It’s something that I never really expected to see during my career, especially coming in [to the league],” said Marchand, who leads the B’s with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games this season. “But it’s something I’ll be very proud of and it should be a lot of fun.

“There’s been a lot going on and it’s been a long year, so [an All-Star nod] hadn’t really been on my mind at all. With the way it was there is one guy needed from each team, and I expected that [Tuukka Rask] would be there. So I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but it’s a huge honor.”

Clearly, Marchand wondered if he’d always be viewed nationally as a pest and a troublemaker rather than an All-Star, but the 37 goals last season combined with the World Cup performance have clearly changed his perception around the league to a large degree.

With Rask preparing for Tuesday night’s start against the Blues at the Scottrade Center, the Bruins netminder is going to wait until after the game to comment on his first All-Star appearance. The 29-year-old Rask is tied for first in the NHL in shutouts (5), third in the NHL in goals-against average (1.93), tied for third in the NHL in wins (20) and tied for fifth in the NHL in save percentage (.928) this season while carrying a Bruins team that has been decidedly average on many nights.

Here’s the full squad of NHL players invited to the NHL All-Star Game with B’s right winger David Pastrnak standing as a worthy Bruins player who didn’t get the invite this time around:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Forwards
Nikita Kucherov
Brad Marchand
Auston Matthews
Frans Nielsen
Kyle Okposo
Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen
Victor Hedman
Erik Karlsson
Shea Weber

Goaltenders
Carey Price (C)
Tuukka Rask

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Forwards
Sidney Crosby (C)
Taylor Hall
Evgeni Malkin
Alex Ovechkin
Wayne Simmonds
John Tavares

Defensemen
Justin Faulk
Seth Jones
Ryan McDonagh

Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky
Braden Holtby

CENTRAL DIVISION

Forwards
Patrick Kane
Patrik Laine
Nathan MacKinnon
Tyler Seguin
Vladimir Tarasenko
Jonathan Toews

Defensemen
P.K. Subban (C)
Duncan Keith
Ryan Suter

Goaltenders
Corey Crawford
Devan Dubynk

PACIFIC DIVISION

Forwards
Connor McDavid (C)
Jeff Carter
Johnny Gaudreau
Bo Horvat
Ryan Kesler
Joe Pavelski

Defensemen
Brent Burns
Drew Doughty
Cam Fowler

Goaltenders
Martin Jones
Mike Smith

Stafford on return to Bruins: 'I would definitely be into it'

Stafford on return to Bruins: 'I would definitely be into it'

BRIGHTON, Mass – It was a pretty eventful time in Boston for Drew Stafford even if it only amounted to less than two months when it was all said and done.

The 31-year-old Stafford was traded to the Bruins from the Winnipeg Jets at the end of February for a conditional draft pick, and became an affordable, useful trade deadline acquisition for Bruins GM Don Sweeney with four goals and eight points in 19 games for the B’s. Stafford played up and down the lines in the forward group and played both on the left and the right side during his time in Boston, and also popped in a couple of goals during the six-game playoff series against the Ottawa Senators as well.

“The goal when I got here was to try to help the team get into the playoffs any way that I could, and I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Stafford. “But everybody was really welcoming and I felt like I was put in a position right away where I could find my way a little bit. Overall this was an extremely positive experience and there are a lot of great people here throughout the organization.

Off the ice, Stafford and his wife Hali also had twins born during his B’s stint as well, and the veteran forward had been away from his wife and newborn baby when they stayed behind in his home state of Minnesota given the situation.

So it was clearly a situation that worked out for both the team and the player with Stafford providing a veteran winger that could score a little bit, and Boston giving up next-to-nothing for the rental player. Now that it’s over, however, Stafford said he loved his time in Boston and would welcome any chance to return before hitting the open free agent market on July 1.

“Absolutely. If there’s any kind of a chance [to return to Boston], I would definitely be into it. I know my wife wasn’t able to make it out here, but we had talked about it a little bit as a possibility,” said Stafford. “If they feel like it could be a good fit then we’ll cross that bridge moving forward. The business side of it kind of works itself out, but personally I loved my experience here and it would be great. We’ll see what happens.”

Stafford is coming off a two-year, $8.7 million contract he signed with the Winnipeg Jets a couple of years ago, but clearly will be getting less this time around coming off a combined eight goals and 21 points in 58 games this season for the B’s and Jets. The Bruins will obviously be setting their sights a little higher than Stafford looking for a natural left wing to pair with David Krejci next season, but perhaps he becomes an affordable free agent veteran option down the line once Sweeney implements his offseason plan. 

McAvoy added to Team USA roster, wants to make ‘big impact’ with Bruins next season

McAvoy added to Team USA roster, wants to make ‘big impact’ with Bruins next season

Since he wasn’t eligible to return to the AHL and join the playoff run for the Providence Bruins, 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy will instead don the Red, White and Blue and play for Team USA in next month’s World Championships in Germany and France.

It will be the fourth time that the Bruins defenseman has represented his country in a world championship event, but the first time that McAvoy will be skating for the men’s national team after crossing over into the pro ranks this spring. 

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The B’s 2016 first-round pick just finished a six-game stint in the playoffs with the Black and Gold where he totaled three assists and a minus-2 rating in while averaging a whopping 26:12 of ice time. McAvoy made all of those comparisons to Drew Doughty seem appropriate, rather than far-fetched, in his playoff performance while logging huge minutes, moving the puck, defending well enough and flashing the physical skills to be a do-it-all No. 1 NHL defenseman in the near future.

It’s fair to say he was just scratching the surface of what he can do while getting dropped into a trial-by-fire debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but some experience at the world championships will be another nice step toward getting him ready for full-time NHL duty next season.

“I’ve played in a couple of different jerseys this year, and I just feel so very fortunate to have been able to put on every single one of them. Each experience had its own lesson to help me grow and improve as a hockey player,” said McAvoy, who has played for Boston University, Team USA in the World Juniors, the Providence Bruins, the Boston Bruins and now Team USA in the world championships within this calendar year. “I have a quiet confidence about myself, but before you experience something like the [Stanley Cup playoffs] you don’t know how you’re going to fare. It was a credit to my teammates and a guy like Zdeno Chara that me in a position to succeed every time I was out on the ice.

“I still think there’s a lot I can learn, and I lot I can grow into. I’ve had just a small sample size of experience, but I feel like I can have a big impact on this [Bruins] team. It’s something I’ll have to work on all offseason to put myself in the best position to come in and have immediate success, but it’s something I’m committed to.”

McAvoy said at Tuesday’s break-up day that he was ineligible to return to Providence in the AHL playoffs once Boston was eliminated last weekend, and it looks like Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari will be the only Bruins players hopping on board for the P-Bruins playoff run.

In an added bonus, McAvoy might even be able to convince fellow Bruins prospect and Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork to sign with the Black and Gold as he’ll also be on the Team USA roster looking to medal in the world championships.