|Brad Marchand promises missing playoffs ‘definitely something that’s going to drive us next year’||04.13.15 at 11:33 pm ET|
One of the pitfalls of success can be the false sense of comfort it provides.
Brad Marchand said Monday on wrap-up day at TD Garden that these Bruins who missed the playoffs with 96 points took winning for granted too often this season and it eventually caught up with them at the end.
This is a Bruins team that had made the playoffs in each of the first seven seasons under Claude Julien. But the run of success ended in season No. 8 as the Bruins watched their hold on the second wild card spot slip out of their hands in the final week.
“We all have to come in knowing that we have to learn from this year,” Marchand said. “We have to know that every game we have to be prepared for and we can’t have any guys taking nights off. I think too many nights we had guys not at the top of their game and most nights we could only rely on a couple of guys. We have to make sure that we all are prepared every night. That’s what we seemed to be so good at in the past. Four lines, 60 [minutes] and the goalie rolling and when we play like that and play within the system, we’re a good team.”
Having won the Stanley Cup in 2011, reaching the finals two years later and finishing with the best record last season, does Marchand think the Bruins took winning and success for granted too much this season?
“For sure. We definitely did,” Marchand said. “When you’re at the top, you feel like it’s going to be there all the time,” Marchand said. “It’s always going to happen. This is a big wakeup call for our team. I think now we realize how hard we have to continue to work to be at the top and get back there. It is definitely a wakeup call for us. We definitely took it a bit for granted and expected it to be there. We’re going to have to make sure we’re working hard to get back to the top.”
Marchand made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons before missing out this year.
“It’s obviously very disappointing. Something to really’it’s tough to describe,” Marchand said. “You have such high hopes coming into the year and obviously with this team we’re expected to not just make the playoffs but win the whole thing. To not be there is different. I’ve never missed the playoffs before in my life so it’s not a good feeling at all. It’s definitely something that’s going to drive us next year.”
|Milan Lucic doesn’t want to be traded, Bruins players accept blame for lost season||04.11.15 at 11:37 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — The Bruins didn’t play dumb after concluding their disaster of a 2014-15 season. They know that when the bar is set high and the results come in low, things can change quickly.
Charlie Jacob’s words about the team’s leadership being under review midway through the season suggested general manager and Peter Chiarelli could be on the hot seat. Star players could be shipped out of town.
Milan Lucic, a player who is both one-of-a-kind and overpaid, hopes this season didn’t cost anyone their jobs, himself included. Lucic has one season remaining on a three-year, $18 million contract with a modified no-trade clause. The 26-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent following the deal, had just 18 goals in 81 games this season.
“Obviously, there’s high expectations on this team and this organization,” he said. “I think, if you look at things, when there’s those high expectations and they aren’t met, changes usually seem to be made. As a player, those are things that are out of your control.
“For myself, personally, I just want to be back and stay in Boston. You love the team, you love the city, you love the organization and you hope that things stay the same as much as they can.”
Players were aware of Jacobs’ comments. The B’s went on a five-game winning streak in January following that press conference, but their play dropped off again in a season full of starts and stops. Tuukka Rask felt that said the players failed their bosses and not the other way around.
“Coaches put the game plan out there and we go out there and try to execute it,” Tuukka Rask said. “Obviously that wasn’t the case this year, so a lot of it falls on us as players because we underachieved. We just have to live with it.”
Asked about Julien and Chiarelli, Brad Marchand said it’s ‘not their fault that we didn’t perform.’ Marchand, who led the Bruins with 24 goals this season, said that nobody did well enough this season.
“I don’t think that any of us really performed to our capabilities this year,” Marchand said. “The goals may have been there at times, but that doesn’t mean that I had any better of a season than anyone else. I think we all know that we could have been better, and if we were then we wouldn’t be here right now. This is a failure of a season for all of us and it doesn’t matter what guys’ stats were.”
TAMPA, Fla. – Chowder and playoff hockey: That’s what Boston does.
Perhaps until Saturday night, anyway. If the Bruins do not get the help they need from both other teams and then beat the Lightning, they will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Dave Lewis was the head coach, Zdeno Chara was in his first year with Boston and a 21-year-old Patrice Bergeron was the team’s bright spot. David Krejci (six games) was the only other current Bruin to play for that team.
That roster was terrible. This one isn’t.
Postseason hockey has become a given since Claude Julien arrived the following season. Brad Marchand, in his fifth full NHL season, has never realistically had to think about where to vacation in April. If Lady Luck spurns the B’s Saturday, he and his teammates will be cleaning out their lockers at TD Garden before the superior half of the league begins the playoffs on Wednesday.
Julien’s Bruins have set a higher standard. Though they’ve had a couple close calls over the years, none have been anything like this. Marchand said that while he figured there would be a time in his Bruins career that the team might fall off from the elite teams of the Eastern Conference, he never thought it would happen this quickly.
“I know teams go through times where they rebuild, especially in the cap era, but I don’t think we were expecting to be battling for a playoff spot like this for a few years to come,” Marchand said after Saturday’s morning skate.
Milan Lucic, a member of the 2009-10 team that finished with the seventh seed and blew a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Flyers, said Saturday morning that he would consider this the most disappointing season he has experienced if the Bruins missed the playoffs.
Lucic’s first season was in 2007-08, the start of Boston’s seven-year streak of reaching the postseason annually. That group didn’t secure its spot until the final days of the season, getting in as a No. 8 seed before taking the top-seeded Canadiens to seven games before being eliminated.
Compared to this, that season was triumphant. There is no feel-good story attached to the Bruins’ current situation and they know it.
“You compare this team to the ‘07-08 team,” Lucic said. “On paper, we’re so much better, and here we are with the situation we’re in. I guess I’ll have a better answer for you tonight.”
The Bruins built off that 2008 playoff berth. Missing out on one this season could signal organization changes and they know it.
Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien both deserve to keep their jobs. They are two of the best in the league at what they do, and with no guarantee that better options will be available, blowing things up could leave the Bruins where the Penguins currently stand: fighting for the playoffs on the last day themselves, with no first-round pick after the team hastily moved it in a desperate attempt to bolster its offense.
Yet Charlie Jacobs said what he said in January and he might feel required to hold someone accountable. That could mean changes, and a new leadership group would mean no current players are safe.
“Anything can happen if things go wrong,’ Marchand said, ‘but today isn’t really the time to talk about that. It’s more worrying about what we can control and playing a big game tonight.
“You know what? If we win tonight, then it’s possible that we’re still in. Hopefully that’s the case, but if not then we’ll worry about that in the next few days.”
TAMPA, Fla. — The Eastern Conference is changing. Since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, then-competitive teams have fallen off and risen again.
One of them is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, after earning their second consecutive playoff berth following a two-year drought, the Lightning can make it so the last Eastern Conference team to win the Cup will not participate in the postseason.
“I think any team in the league would love to knock a team like this out because of how dangerous they can be come playoff time,” Steven Stamkos said after the Lightning’s morning skate. “I think you look at LA and you look at Boston. Those are the teams that, no matter where they finish, if they can get into the playoffs, anything can happen because of the personnel they have, the experience they have. With LA being out, I think everyone in the West can sleep a little easier and obviously if Boston doesn’t make it, teams are a little happier here.”
Thanks to Friday night’s Penguins loss, the Bruins will still technically be alive when they hit the ice Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
When told of Stamkos’ words, Brad Marchand wasn’t surprised.
“We know that there’s no team that wants to do us a favor,” Marchand said. “We know that they’re going to bring their best game tonight. They played well at home their last game against us.
“We’re a good playoff team. We’re kind of built for that. Any team would be happy to knock us out. We know that they’re going to get their best game. That means that means that we’re going to have to play even harder and make sure we lay our bodies on the line and sacrifice for the team.”
Neither wild card spot in the Eastern Conference is clinched entering Saturday’s games. The Senators can clinch a playoff berth with a win Saturday afternoon in their regular season finale in Ottawa. The Penguins can tie up a spot with a win over the Sabres Saturday night. If the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins fail to get a point, the Bruins can claim a spot with a win over the Lightning.
Yet the Lightning have more than one reason to try to win Saturday. In addition to knocking off the Bruins and making sure that they would never have to run into Tuukka Rask this spring, a win could potentially earn them the top seed in the Atlantic Division.
Through 81 games apiece, Tampa Bay has 106 points to Montreal’s 108. If Montreal loses to Toronto in regulation and Tampa beats Boston, the Lightning would take the top seed in the Atlantic by virtue of the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Wednesday vs. Capitals ‘was not the most intense Bruins environment I’ve seen in a long time’||04.09.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look at the Bruins’ loss to the Capitals Wednesday night and ahead to the playoffs and the Bruins’ chances. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire worked the game Wednesday night, a 3-0 Bruins loss in Washington, and said the Bruins didn’t look like some of the Bruins’ teams he knows from the past.
“I thought they were kind of passive last night, I really did,” said McGuire. “I also know that there were some guys under the weather. They are not going to use that as an excuse, but I know there were guys not feeling very well last night — Brad Marchand was one of them. I mean, the fact that he dressed and played as well as he did was pretty nice indication of his character and how much he cares. Again, you don’t want to get everything wrapped up in one game. If they turn around and win tonight then everybody is going to be happy again. It was not the most intense Bruins environment I’ve seen in a long time.”
Claude Julien mixed up his lines, to the disliking of some, but McGuire brought up Julien was likely thinking ahead to Thursday night’s game in Florida too, and not just Wednesday’s game in Washington.
“I was really surprised at some of the maneuvers, but I also know that Washington is one of the most balanced teams in the league,” said McGuire. “They have really a four-line attack. You could see it, they had that kid line last night that was really working for them that didn’t score, but it generated chances for them. They are still missing Jay Beagle, they are still missing Eric Fehr, they will get those guys back at some point. Washington is a balanced team.
“I think what Claude was trying to do is get more of a balanced attack so he could compete with a four line game knowing the schedule that he has. That is a quick back-to-back with Washington and Florida. It is one of the most difficult ones you have in the league just because of travel, humidity and the time that you arrive. This will be a very difficult game for the Bruins. I think he was trying to look at the whole schedule rather than one game.”
With the Eastern Conference so tightly bunched, and only two games left, anything can happen. Currently the Bruins are tied with the Senators for eighth place, and a point behind seventh place, and two points behind sixth place. So one of those four teams will miss out on the postseason. McGuire thinks the Bruins will be able to make the playoffs, as they take on Florida Thursday night and Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“Tuukka [Rask] is going to be large early on tonight, I think that is really important,” he said. “If he can be and stabilize the game early then the Bruins I think will have a chance to get going. You’re going to be looking at a showdown obviously on Sunday against Tampa. I think Tampa will probably rest some people. The game won’t have as much meaning for them. I still believe Boston is a playoff team. I do. I believed it from the start of the year and I still believe it.”
|Bruins’ late-game heroics push Flyers further back in Eastern Conference||03.07.15 at 7:06 pm ET|
The importance of Saturday’s game for the Flyers could not be overstated.
Trailing the Bruins by four points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia could have moved closer in the standings with a win. Before Saturday’s game started, Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted this would most likely be Philadelphia’s biggest game this season.
With the clock winding down in the third period, the Flyers looked like they would get two valuable points in this critical game. Forward Chris VandeVelde redirected a shot from the point past goaltender Tuukka Rask, which gave Philadelphia a one-goal lead with 4:30 remaining. All seemed ripe for a Flyers win.
Until it didn’t.
Wayne Simmonds was called for tripping at the 17:57 mark. The penalty set the Bruins up with a power play, and essentially a 6-on-4 chance when Rask left for the bench.
Brad Marchand then tied the game up on the ensuing man advantage with 14.1 seconds to go with a deflection goal. And with 1:08 remaining in overtime, Marchand did it again with a backhanded goal that bounced over netminder Steve Mason’s shoulder.
Instead of pulling within two points of the Bruins, the Flyers now are five back of a playoff spot.
“It’s a tough defeat, but there’s still time and I mean there’s more games,” VandeVelde said following the loss. “But it’s getting down there so we’ve got to start winning games and doing the right things and holding on to wins.”
|Brad Marchand (maintenance) misses practice as Bruins prepare for Islanders and Canadiens||02.05.15 at 1:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand missed Thursday’s practice, with Claude Julien saying the B’s gave their second-line left wing a maintenance day.
Marchand, who took a couple of big hits from Dan Girardi in Wednesday’s loss to the Rangers, had his spot filled by Daniel Paille in practice. The lines were as follows:
All seven defensemen and both goaltenders were present, including Malcolm Subban, who is still with the big club.
The Bruins will practice again on Friday before hosting the Islanders Saturday and Canadiens Sunday.