Sweet homecoming for Bruins' Marchand

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Sweet homecoming for Bruins' Marchand

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA As homecomings go, it went pretty smoothly for Brad Marchand in his first game as a hockey pro in his home city of Halifax.

The 23-year-old has already lived through an entire dream season while potting 21 goals as an NHL rookie and capturing the Stanley Cup. That wasnt enough for Marchand, though. He signed on for two more years with the Bruins in the middle of September, and played role of pesky winger with an offensive stinger to perfection. as he always does against the Habs, in Sunday night's 7-3 exhibition win over the hated Montreal Canadiens at the Halifax Metro Center on Sunday night.

He popped in a rebound goal during a second period power play, and looked fairly comfortable skating on his off wing on the right side with Zach Hamill and Benoit Pouliot. Marchand playing on the right side was one of several wrinkles the Bs coaching staff added to the preseason game in order to try out some different combinations and it worked out in the end for both parties.

Playing in the NHL and having my family and friends being able to see what its like playing for Boston and especially against Montreal made it a pretty special game, said Marchand. I had a couple of chances and I scored a goal. Wasnt the prettiest goal, but its still pretty good.

I heard halfway through last year that we were coming here, and from that day forward I was really looking forward it. I was excited for camp and the chance to play here. Its been a long time since Ive played in this building.

Coach Claude Julien said Marchand was having such a good time skating in front of 50 family and friends in the stands that he was trying to cajole the timekeepers into stopping the clock when it was inadvertently running during the game. During the preseason a running game clock is akin to telling the coaching staff theres an endless cup of Tim Hortons coffee waiting for them at every turn.

Julien and just about every other member of the Bruins organization were satisfied to quickly run the clock and get on the plane back to Montreal.

But Marchand was soaking it all in without knowing if theyll be back again in Nova Scotia anytime soon.

It was nice for Marchand to score in his hometown. After one whistle the clock was running he was the only one yelling at the referee to stop the clock, said Julien. The rest of us were telling him to be quiet. You could tell he wanted to stay here for a while.

It might have marked the oddest homecoming reception a player has ever received as a conquering champion returning to his old stomping ground, however.

A large pro-Canadiens crowd made it a fairly even mixture of boos and cheers for the winger in his first game back in Halifax as a bone fide Bruins player. The boos werent as lusty or as vitriolic as they were for Montreal Public Enemy No. 1, Zdeno Chara, but Marchand still heard them and chalked it up to inciting fan anger over last years first round playoff ouster.

Surely most Montreal fans assume if they beat the Bruins in Game 7 then Stanley Cup glory would have been theirs, right?

I think those were the Montreal fans, said Marchand. Theyre a little bitter about the way things went last year, but thats the way it goes.

Does Marchand still enjoy hearing catcalls from the Habs fanatics?

Any time they boo us its a good thing, shot back Marchand without hesitation.

The epically productive performance by Marchand skating with Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley in Friday nights preseason win over the Islanders combined with Sunday nights energetic game paint a pretty interesting picture for No. 63.

The skating, the shot and the energy have all been there for Marchand from the opening days of camp while some of his teammates have taken a more deliberate approach with the short summer. Marchand doesnt look like hes really missed a beat at all, and is playing with his typical fast-forward ferocity all over the ice.

Its a far cry from the player in Marchand that some assumed would come into the camp sluggish or slowed down after enjoying the post-Cup revelry. Everybody saw the pictures and heard about the booze-soaked parties attended by the newly minted Cup champs, but the Bs winger knew where to draw the line.

Sure there jokes in Boston where Marchand was the shirtless, boozy punch line, but the winger instead clearly went right back to work after his two weeks of good, clean, shirtless debauchery in Boston. The Honey Badger had his fun in Boston and then had himself a thoroughly professional summer of getting ready for his sophomore NHL campaign.

Instead of celebrating what hed done while potting 12 goals in the Cup playoffs, Marchand set his sights on proving hes much more than a one-year wonder.

This is a game that can bring anyone back down to earth pretty quickly. Youve just got to understand that theres a new challenge this year, said Julien. Everybody is going to be gunning for us this year. Were going to have our hands full. If we dont have our players focused properly, it could be a tough year for us.

So we need those guys to understand that and I think Marchand has understood it. His purpose on the ice has been working hard and I liked his game against the New York Islanders. With that MarchandBergeronPeverley line they seem to be clicking pretty well. So tonights another challenge for him. Hes in his hometown. He gets an opportunity here to show us hes going to stay focused on what he does best and hes not going to try to get out of his element.

Marchand was in his element as a catalyst for the champion Bruins last season, and its looked more and more as if that will be the case again this season and beyond for Bostons Honey Badger.

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

Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

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Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at how good the Justice League and Wonder Woman trailers were this weekend.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has veteran center Dominic Moore mulling a couple of offers as he looks for an NHL contract for next season.

*Jordan Eberle joined Canadian sports radio, and agreed that something needed to change with the Oilers after continually missing the playoffs.

*I will miss Jim Prior’s trademark “The Teams are ready, so let’s play hockey!” open to every game as a PA announcer, and I’ll miss his warm personality around the rink. It’s a sad day for the BU hockey program.

*The Arizona Coyotes continue to put together a very interesting D-men picture by signing Luke Schenn to a two-year contract. For my money, Schenn has long been one of the most overrated players in the NHL.

*The Hockey News’ Mike Brophy has some thoughts and observations about the NHL offseason as it continues to wind on.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Stubbs on Andrei Markov and his candid thoughts on everything from the Montreal traffic to the PK Subban/Shea Weber trade.

*Here’s a spot to track the travels and stories of the Pittsburgh Penguins amid their summer with the Stanley Cup.

*For something completely different: as mentioned above, here is the trailer for the Justice League that shows a much lighter, better touch with what should be a fun movie to watch. Hopefully this means it won’t be another pretty-looking, Zack Snyder funeral dirge.

 

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

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Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while everybody is working for the weekend...or during the weekend.

*The vice-presidential candidate for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, made quite an impression while hanging out a Capitals game with MC Hammer. They call this guy boring, but that doesn’t sound very boring to me.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bob Stauffer has the news that the Edmonton Oilers are parting ways with fancy stats lad Tyler Dellow. Boy, it seems like some teams are reversing course pretty quickly on some of these smarter-than-thou advanced statistics types, aren’t they? I certainly wish Dellow well and hope he finds another gig. But Instead of baselessly wondering whether the Oilers are going to continue down the fancy stats road (which they most certainly will), perhaps this is more a referendum on nonsensical stats-driven decisions like handing out that long term contract to a perpetually underachieving Benoit Pouliot.

*The New York Rangers have locked up Chris Kreider to a four-year contract at a reasonable number, and now he has the time with the Blueshirts to see how good he can be.

*Brian Leetch opens up to the Players Tribune about his NHL experiences playing with the New York Rangers, and all of his favorite experiences from a Hall of Fame career.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says that Carey Price’s injury from last season is no longer a concern, according to Habs coach Michel Therrien.

*The Chicago Blackhawks will appear a whopping 21 times on national television across the NBC Networks next season.

*Incoming BU goaltender Jake Oettinger is among the names to look out for at the 2017 draft, according to the NHL Central Scouting bureau.

*Travis Yost says that the Carolina Hurricanes are on the rise thanks to winning the shot differential battle. I think it’s because they have an outstanding cast of young defensemen, who are helping them control the puck and win that shot differential battle. But they still need to score more if they’re going to really be a team on the rise, so we’ll see what happens there.

*For something completely different: for those that think I’m a Democrat because I am anti-Trump, here’s a story on the DNC machinery attempting to torpedo Bernie Sanders during the presidential campaigning over the last year.