Bruins find a line that really works

191545.jpg

Bruins find a line that really works

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

The Brad Marchand pairing with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron first arrived to the Bruinsout of injuries and necessity.But Claude Julien made clear what everybody else seems to alreadyknow following the Bs 6-2 landslide over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Saturday afternoon: that particularlinecombinationwill probably be staying together for a good long stretch.

The MarchandRecchiBergeron line gets that kind of consideration after accounting for four goals in the win, and proving once again that they can both A) shut down the other teams line with suffocating defense and B) attack the sometimes suspect defensive bent of those offensive lines and make them pay with puck impunity.

The trio also piled up 15 of Bostons 40 shots in the victory, and certainly deserved a big helping of the credit pie for the Bs win. That's the kind of solid hustle and heady play that can make a hockey coach look like a genius.

Were getting a lot out of those guys, said Julien in the understatement of the year. Were pairing them up against top lines and theyre doing a good job. Theyre producing at the other end and theyve been very reliable. I really like that line.

Thats why weve kind of kept them together. We know Marchand was a big part of that line with Gregory Campbell and ShawnThornton, but weve been able to find some guys that have gone in and made them a good line. We like what Marchand has brought to Bergeron and Recchi, and we dont plan on breaking that one up anytime soon.

Offensive production iswhat happened early and often against an Avalanche team experiencingsome serious defensive difficulties.It was fitting Marchand and Co. got things movingin the first period after a fitful first few minutes. After the Bruins had struggled through the first three minutes and found themselves down 1-0, a Gregory Campbell fight changed the momentum of the game and Marchands 11th goal of the season allowed the Black and Gold to keep it there.

Recchi had the puck as he edged toward the corner and flipped a pass right atthe net as he saw Marchand storming toward the cage -- a trait that makes Marchand both a pest and a viable offensive force. The puck bounced off a Colorado body in front, and the alert Marchand popped it past Craig Anderson to tie the game.That was just the beginning for all three forwards on a day that made their combination look all the more like a No. 1 NHL line.

Marchand and Recchi were at it again in the second, and this time it was Marchand setting things up with some playmaking ability: the kind of head-turning skill that someof his teammates sheepishly admit theydidnt know existed before he got his game going this season.

Marchand skated up the left wing looking shot the entire time, and drew the defense and goaltender toward him before slipping a pass to Recchi all alone for the 573rd goal of Recchi's Hall fo Fame career a strike that ties him with Mike Bossy for 19th on the NHL all-time list.

Its the kind of elite hockey playfrom Marchand that continues to surprise Recchi, though it probably wont after this weekend. Its really not a coincidence that every line Marchand joins up with seems to take off from an energy and offensive production standpoint, and people are beginning to put together that a great deal of the credit belongs to a player many thought was a simple pest as he was breaking into the league.

I've got to be honest with you. I didnt know that he had it in him what hes shown us, and Im glad that I was wrong, said Recchi. I knew he was skilled and he worked, but hes earned every bit of it and he deserves it. Honestly I havent been wrong on too many guys, but I was wrong on him thinking he couldnt take that next step and become an elite player.

Hes on that path. Hes a great kid. We always like that work ethic and energy, but hes confident and hes really let those skills take over. Now he knows that he can be a very good player in this league and Bergie and I really enjoy playing with him quite a bit.

Bergeron was solid and steady throughout the game as he always is. The B's leading scorer threw out a little bit ofspectacular in the third period on a goal that showed exactly what the Bs Assistant Captain is all about.The pivotdropped to his knees after being knocked off balance with the puck, but he still somehow shoveled a backhanded passshot from his knees that ticked off the skate of John-Michael Liles and added to Bostons goal total.Not surprisingly Marchand was crashing the net and would have had another goal on the play if Bergeron didn't get a little puck luck on his 16th goal of the season. That three-point afternoon keeps him on pace for 27 goals and 67 points this season -- the kind of numbers that put him right in line with the Bergeron of pre-concussion days.

The game was already in hand at that point of the third period, but that play perfectly depicted Bergerons indefatigable desire and compete level no matter what the score a trait thats transformed Bergeron backinto Bostons best all-around player over the last two months at a time when his team desperately needed him.

Marchand is strong on the puck. Bergeron is strong on the puck. Im just feeding off of it, said Recchi. Right from day one that Marchand was put in there with us weve really felt great together. Were all on the same page. We all like to fore-check and get energy that way. We all like to cycle the puck. Hopefully we can keep this up.

Before the season began, it was expected to be hotshot rookie Tyler Seguin on the wing paired with Bergeron and Recchi in a brilliantoffensive grouping filled with potential but instead Marchand has become that hotshot rookie thats helped spur his other fellow forwards on to bigger, better and scrappierthings this season.

Get used to saying the names ofBergeron, Marchand and Recchi together for all things Bruins it doesnt look like theyll be playing anywhere elsegoing forward with much good reason.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

With injury in his past, Malcolm Subban is looking toward future

bruins_malcolm_subban_092215.jpg

With injury in his past, Malcolm Subban is looking toward future

BOSTON – It’s not really ever a banner day for any red-blooded, red-light hating goalie when he surrenders four goals in a game.

But perhaps that bottom line is softened a little bit considering when it’s also the first game of the preseason. It may also be drastically mitigated by the fact, in this case, that it was the first time Malcolm Subban guarded the space between the pipes since taking a puck to the throat that fractured his larynx last February.

That traumatic injury left Subban unable to speak for days and gasping for air while being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

It was a tiny victory simply for the Bruins goalie prospect to be back on the ice at all and a much bigger one once Subban had made 31 saves while largely under siege in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The 22-year-old admitted a little rush in net while the Red Wings were buzzing all around him for 35 shots on net through his two periods of work, but there was also happiness at simply being to back and building up for another season in the Bruins organization.

“It was great to finally get back out. Obviously, [I was] really rusty. To be honest, I felt – not so much the goals even, but just shots in general, especially in the first, obviously nerves had a little bit to do with it,” said Subban, who was 14-8-5 with a .911 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average last season in Providence. “But it was the first time in a long time I could say that I felt not up to speed. I feel like usually I’m overplaying stuff, too fast. But, I felt today like practice is a lot different than a game.

“In the first, I thought I was a little behind the play. That starts to open up holes like my post coverage and stuff. A little rusty there, especially on the third goal, I’ve got to clean that stuff up. Other than that, I thought I played pretty well in terms of straight shots. We practice all that stuff. I’ve just got to keep working on that end. Hopefully, I can move forward and build on that. I think it’s a great game to build off, for sure, for myself and the team.”

The goals allowed showed some on defense, but also some of the rust in their goalie: Subban lost sight of the puck behind the net on the second goal and Steve Ott was able to fire a quick shot past him on the short side before he could recover his bearings. 

The third goal was also a post coverage issue with Luke Glendening scoring on a late-reacting Subban, which is usually one of his real strengths. So, there is work to be done, but Subban also shut down a number of breakaways in the second period behind a leaky defense and stopped over 30 pucks before he gave way to young goalie Dan Vladar.

That’s considered more than an honest night’s work in the first preseason appearance for any goaltender, and surely for one playing his first game in seven months.  

“I think it was [a good outing for Subban]. He faced some quality scoring chances out there, and the ones that went in probably he’d like to have back, you know,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “But overall, I think when you look at his overall performance for the two periods he played pretty solid for us. He made some big saves, some timely saves and moved well in there. I think for Malcolm, you know, despite the score, I think he had a good night.”

Perhaps most encouraging: the middle Subban brother made a key save at the end of the first period with a puck off his helmet after Detroit had scored twice in a span of 19 seconds.

The stop with Subban’s head gear was probably the best sign of the night that he’s over last year’s traumatic injury and there isn’t going to be any shell-shocked goaltender situation with him.

So, did the injury cross his mind even once during his 40 minutes of work?

“To be honest, no. I owe a lot of credit to my players and these guys on the team in practice and stuff. I really haven’t had to worry about [taking another puck to the throat], getting hit,” said Subban, who now wears a neck guard after eschewing that particular piece of equipment prior to the injury. You’ve got some pretty good shooters in here; pretty accurate shooters. But, yeah, to be honest, I never really thought of [the fractured larynx], it never came across my mind.”

One thing that’s definitely been on Subban’s mind in camp is his contract situation and knowing full well he’s in the last season of his entry-level deal with the Bruins as a former first-round pick. He now has both Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask in front of him in the NHL and he’s looking at a fourth straight season in the AHL with the P-Bruins.

It might have been a different story for the talented goalie prospect if he’d finished last season in the same hot streak he was enjoying at the time of his injury. Perhaps he’d be the guy prepping to be Rask’s understudy this season. Instead, the ill-timed larynx injury pushed the Bruins to opt for an established backup in Khudobin and sign him to a two-year deal that could conceivably lock Subban in Providence for a couple more seasons.

So, now Subban is playing for his future, whether it’s with the Bruins, or with another team looking for a young No. 1 goaltending prospect just now entering his prime after refining his technique and going through some character-building adversity.

“I had a hard summer of workouts and skating, so I feel good. I’m not going to hold myself short. I understand that this is my contract year and the last year of my contract, so I’ve got to have a good year regardless of where I am. I’ve just got to play awesome,” said Subban. “Obviously you want to sign again, and you want to be a part of the organization. You want to be a huge part of it and a valued asset.

“So, what I’m looking forward to proving right now is that the last three years helped me, and that I’ve improved since my first year, and that I want to be here [in Boston].”

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Subban within the B’s organization over the next season.

The Bruins regime that initially drafted him 24th overall back in 2012 is now gone. Subban still has value to an NHL team, particularly a Canadian one, scouring the market for a blue-chip goalie prospect. The organization is also going to be forced to expose a quality goaltender or two in the Las Vegas franchise expansion draft after this season. That could mean a new work address, or a new spot opened up within the B’s goalie depth chart, for Subban.

All of these could be possibilities for Subban, but it all starts with him pouring everything he’s learned over the past three years and dominating the AHL before he pushes for his first extended look at the highest level of hockey. 

Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

bruins_noel_acciari_082816.jpg

Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

BOSTON – There were no updates following the preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, but fourth-line center candidate Noel Acciari had to leave in the third period with what appeared to be a leg injury. 

The Rhode Island native appeared to be favoring his right leg after getting tangled up in front of the benches just a couple of minutes into the third period, crawled toward the bench and then headed back to the B’s dressing room for repairs.

Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco didn’t have any update in the moments directly after the 5-1 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“Noel did leave the game. I’m not sure what his status is, or what the injury was. I haven’t been told,” Sacco said. Acciari finished with five hits and a blocked shot in 10:35 of ice time vs. Detroit. “I’ll have to check with medical and see where we’re at.”

The hope is that the injury isn’t a serious one after Acciari looked strong and heavy playing an energy role down the middle last season for the Bruins in the final weeks of the regular season. He teamed with Justin Hickman and Anton Blidh to play a gritty, energy line on Wednesday night, and they were largely effective for the Black and Gold while some of the other bigger name players struggled.

A potential injury to Acciari, however, does leave the door open for Dominic Moore to really put an iron-fisted grip on the fourth-line center spot after it appeared there would be a big surplus of centers at the start of camp.