Haggerty: Marchand the brightest light in loss

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Haggerty: Marchand the brightest light in loss

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON -- Its funny the way things work out sometimes.

Brad Marchand was probably the Bruin least expected to hurtle out of the starting gate firing on all cylinders, but the 23-year-old was the closest thing the Bs had to a good player in the 2-1 opening night loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden on Thursday.

With hard work, the Marchand storyline has gone from hard-partying summer to hard-working summer with a solid first effort under his belt.

Marchand basically picked up where he left off last year by serving in two capacities: The last Bs player to score a goal during last years Stanley Cup Finals on an empty-netter in Game 7, and the first to score this season when he busted through in the first period.

It was during Bostons first power play of the night, as Tyler Seguin skipped a long stretch pass by a pair of defenders to free up Marchand behind the Flyers defense. Marchand did the rest, speeding toward the net and flipping a backhanded double-move past Ilya Bryzgalov to open the scoring.

He did . . . he did bring the energy, agreed coach Claude Julien. We had talked about everybody trying to find a way to bring some energy to our game and build some momentum. We wanted to get our fans into it and everything else.

Some guys like Marchand did a better job than others, but I thought we could have had some better results in regard to that. We needed to find a way to get ourselves into the game more, and rile up our fans as well. They could have been a big boost for us tonight. But we didnt do anything to excite them except for the first 10 minutes, when we missed the net I dont know how many times.

Unfortunately that was it for the net-missing Bruins, who surrendered two goals in the final minute of the first period and then couldnt finish any other chances through the final 40 minutes of an emotionally empty performance.

While Marchand should have been one of the few Bs players proud of his individual performance amid some pretty uninspired, mediocre hockey, the left wing was hard on himself for a few late mistakes while also readily admitting the impressive banner-raising might have sucked the life out of the team. So many players had high energy for the first 10 minutes and lost it as the game unfolded, and thats consistent with a team that peaked before the opening puck was dropped.

It was a great ceremony before the game, but you know it was a tough finish tonight, said Marchand. I thought we had a good start. We got an early goal there and then we kind of let our guard down a little bit, and they took over. We just have to regroup and bounce back.

We were still trying to get back into things there, but Bryzgalov made a few big saves that really kept them in the game. We do have to capitalize on our opportunities. We had a lot of chances there in the first where we missed the net. It doesn't even count as a scoring chance, so we do have to be better in that area. But that will come with time.

The good news: Marchand is a key player for the Bruins in a season dedicated to repeating as Stanley Cup champs, and his three shots on net and goal scored were an excellent start. It could have been a very different result for the pugnacious winger and the Bs, too, if the diminutive forward could have connected on a backhanded set up from David Krejci in the second period. But Marchand didnt get good enough wood on the backhand as he barreled down the slot area toward the net, and that allowed Bryzgalov to make a flashy glove save that damped Bostons spirits.

While the Bruins were largely the same cast of the characters, the Flyers were new and improved with a goaltender who can actually execute a high degree of difficulty save or two with the game on the line. Perhaps recognizing that the Bruins were facing an uphill emotional battle Marchand attempted to pester Philly golden boy James van Riemsdyk into some kind of hockey skirmish, but the Flyers forward wisely skipped any on-ice high jinks.

Unfortunately for Marchand and the Bruins, a goal, a little goading and a few good chances gone unfinished werent enough to make it a happy ending for the first banner-raising ceremony on the Garden ice in nearly four decades.

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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.