Oh, baby! New papa Cam Ward stifles Bruins


Oh, baby! New papa Cam Ward stifles Bruins

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- Cam Ward's last shutout came on May 3, 2009, when he made 30 saves in the Carolina Hurricanes' 3-0 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

He did it again Friday, by the same score, only with more saves (37). Only this time there was a big difference:

The presence of his newborn son, Nolan, who was born Wednesday and to whom he dedicated Friday's victory.

"These last couple days have been really amazing for myself, introducing my first son, Nolan, and both Nolan and Mom are doing awesome," said Ward after Carolina's win. "I was just excited about getting back on the ice."

Ward hadn't played since last Saturday, but, what with a newborn baby in the house, that didn't mean he was well rested. He was, however, used to being up early, so his recent sleep deprivation was a good thing heading into Friday's earlier-than-usual noon puck drop.

"Well, I knew it was going to be his first one watching," said Ward. "I'm just a very lucky young man right now, and I felt really good going into today.

"I'm very fortunate to have a lovely wife, and giving me a healthy boy. It's my first son, so knowing that he's back home, we drove him home yesterday, it's his first time watching Dad on the TV, so most certainly it was in my mind."

Ward was also in the Bruins' minds as well.

The B's had their chances on Friday, but Ward was consistently in the right place at the right time all game long.

"You've got to give Ward credit because he kept them in the game," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. "He made some big stops for them, and that's, I think, the biggest reason why they won.

"He did a good job kicking the rebounds out," added Lucic. "If he put out his glove, he caught it, or he stopped the play every time. So he's a big part of that team, and we weren't able to break him down tonight."

Ward's dominating play was something Mark Recchi had seen before.

"Ward's a world-class goalie," said Recchi. "I was with him in Carolina when we won the Cup in 2006, and he knows how to win. He's a great goalie. He's very sound, technically, and he's a competitive guy. You're going to have to be willing to out-battle him. He's a battler, and we weren't quite willing to out-battle him."

The Bruins outshot the Hurricanes 37-21 on Friday. They also went 0-for-4 on the power play. Even though the B's weren't in sync at all during their man-advantage opportunities, the old saying still exists for any team: your best penalty killer is your goalie.

On Friday, Ward was Carolina's best player

"I felt like I was seeing the puck really well," said Ward. "I felt that I controlled my rebounds, and any time you do that, you can help your team in your own zone."

When asked, after the game, if Ward showed any signs of slowing down, now that he has to take care of his newborn son the rest of the season, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice responded by saying, "No, we're hoping he has 70 more babies this year."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut


Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

BOSTON – It was an excellent night for the many varied Bruins prospects in the preseason opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The B’s eventually dropped the game in a 3-2 shootout loss at TD Garden, but not before some of their young players showed exactly what they can do.

“For sure it’s a lot of fun. Coming in here everybody’s a little nervous, but it was, once you’re out there, it’s just fun. It was good to see the young guys out there,” said former University of Denver standout Danton Heinen, who scored the tying strike in the third period on a redirect. “It was definitely adjusting. You don’t totally know what to expect and then once the game went on I kind of felt a little more comfortable. We started playing better as a team.”

Former first-round pick Jake DeBrusk set up the B’s first goal with Jimmy Hayes by executing a nifty give-and-go at the Columbus net, and young skaters Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik made the initial transition passes that led up to the goal. In the third period Danton Heinen redirected a Brandon Carlo point shot from the slot area, and scored in his first career game played at TD Garden in an impressive show of hand-eye coordination.

Carlo, Czarnik, DeBrusk, Zboril and Heinen all had strong performances on the score sheet and at both ends of the ice, and that’s exactly what the Bruins coaching staff wanted to see with NHL jobs potentially up for grabs in main camp.

“A lot of young players in the lineup, I won’t go through all of them, but I thought quite a few of them acquitted themselves well,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “They were given opportunities to do that. I think some of them certainly took advantage of it, and did a nice job.”

It was good that the young players stepped up and made a nice impression in the preseason debut because the veteran players will cut into their opportunities once the World Cup of Hockey crew gets sprinkled into the mix starting this week. 

Haggerty: Marchand signing is Bruins' biggest win in years

Haggerty: Marchand signing is Bruins' biggest win in years

BOSTON -- It’s no understatement to say that Brad Marchand's eight-year, $49 million contract extension is one of the Don Sweeney's and Cam Neely's biggest recent victories.

It’s also undoubtedly a big win for Marchand: He gets what he wants; i.e., staying with a Bruins team that drafted and developed him from a rookie fourth liner into an impactful 37-goal scorer over the last six seasons.

“Boston has become my second home. I absolutely love it there. I’m very excited about what’s ahead for our team,” said Marchand to reporters in Toronto, where he's still representing Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey. “I really believe in our team and our group and what we’re working towards. It’s a place that I’m very excited about being for the next number of years and potentially my whole career.

“We’ll talk more about everything after the tournament, but for now I just want to thank everyone who’s involved in the negotiations, my agent, and their team. I’m just very happy that everything’s done now and we can move forward.”

Marchand, 28, clearly gave the B's a hometown discount. Had he gone to free agency, he probably could have gotten $1 million more per season than the $6.125 million average annual value of the deal he agreed to.

As for the Bruins, they were able to lock up one of their most important core players for the balance of his career.

Marchand scored a career-high 37 goals and 60 points last season and is continuing his ascendency toward elite player status by tearing up the World Cup of Hockey this month on a line with Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron. The threat of him being wooed to Pittsburgh by Crosby, a fellow Nova Scotian, could have been very real had the Bruins dragged their feet in negotiations. But that wasn’t the tenor of the talks.

Let’s be honest: The way things have gone the last couple of years, it was very easy to envision the Bruins massively overpaying Marchand, given his expected value as a free agent. Or seeing Marchand and his agent, Wade Arnott, stringing them along before jumping to the highest bidder with the B’s left holding nothing, as was the case with Loui Eriksson.

Instead, Sweeney and Neely closed the deal . . . and at a team-reasonable rate. For that they deserve the kind of credit they haven’t enjoyed much of over the last couple of years as they've essentially dismantled an aging former Cup team while still trying to stay playoff-caliber.

“You’re going to have [free-agent defections] at every team," said Sweeney. "There will be [exiting] players. That’s just the way the league is built, parity, and being able to fit people in and out depending on how their roles are, and what you have in the pipeline to be able to take the place of players that are going to depart. That’s just forces of nature of the league itself.

“[But the] motivation was there from the get-go to try and find a deal with Brad . . . [You] realize that other players have left and the opportunity could be out there for him, and he’s very cognizant. He makes you very cognizant of it when you’re going through it.

“It’s a process that takes a long time to get through things. Great communication with their representatives -- with Brad’s representatives -- and it just felt like we would try and get to a good end point. The timing was obviously hard on Brad today, wanting to focus on the World Cup but, when you have a chance to get to the finish line you have to cross it. But it’s rightfully so not to take any attention away from what he’s doing right now because it’s important to him, but as was the contract to have it in place for all the parties. We got to the finish line and it’s really good for Brad and it’s really good for the Boston Bruins.”

It’s true Marchand might be a much different player by the time he’s 35 or 36 at the end of the deal. But it’s also true that a rising NHL salary cap will make this contract much more palatable as the years go by. The duo of Bergeron/Marchand is the most important, meaningful asset the Bruins have, and they needed to keep them together as a scoring, defending and special-teams threat every time they take the ice.

Marchand might not ever score 37 goals again like he did last season, but it’s no stretch to expect him to be around 30 or the foreseeable future. He has more short-handed goals than any other NHL player since joining the league in 2010-11, and the attitude and charisma he plays with on the ice is the kind of things that puts butts in seats.

Those players get paid and they get teams into bidding wars in the rare instances that they make it all the way to unrestricted free agency. So the Bruins scored a big victory in not allowing it to get to that point with a homegrown player who's come a long way from his early days as a detested agitator around the NHL.