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

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

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Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins woke up on Saturday morning and found themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time in months by virtue of the one game in hand the New York Islanders have over the Black and Gold.

That makes Saturday night’s tilt against the Isles at the Barclays Center all the more important. A win will put the Bruins back into the lead for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a loss would further drop them out of the playoff picture. It’s the biggest game of the season for the Bruins made that much grander in scale because Tuukka Rask is suddenly out with a lower body injury, and the Bruins will need a superior effort to snap a four game losing streak that has them teetering on the brink of playoff oblivion.

With all this swirling around, the Bruins know they can seize control of their playoff destiny with a win that will send them spinning off in the right direction. A loss will…well, that’s something the B’s don’t even want to entertain at this point after collapsing down the stretch in each of the last two seasons.

“With where we’re at right now, we can’t have any moral victories. Now it’s about doing the job and bearing down. We have to go all in tonight and have a big game. Hopefully the guys understand how important of a game it is and we have a big night,” said Brad Marchand. “I think we’re all excited. This is when we love to play when the game means so much, and it has a playoff feel. We’re fighting for our lives right now. It’s a great mood in the room, so hopefully we have a big bounce back.”

While the big picture can’t possibly be ignored given what’s happened with the Bruins this week, Bruce Cassidy also cautioned that simply viewing Saturday night as a two-point game was the best technique for success. Otherwise things could become overwhelming and packed with too much pressure when it should be something the Bruins are embracing rather than dreading.

“I hope our guys are creating some positive energy out there. This time of year you just need to have that mindset that it’s one game at a time,” said Cassidy. “You don’t look back, and you stay in the moment. That’s the message that gets conveyed to the group and for the most part they’ve done a good job with that. We just need to play our game and play it well.

“I truly believe they’ll bounce back. They didn’t have their best on Thursday and I think we’ve addressed that game. I believe they’ll take a lot of pride in their game tonight. Your leaders need to lead and your followers need to follow, and that’s a recipe for success for most teams. We’re no different and I expect that to be the case [against the Islanders].”

On the other side of the coin, it will be look out below if the Bruins drop a fifth straight game and continue a downward spiral as the Leafs, Lightning and Islanders are seem to be hitting their late season stride at the same time.