|5 things we learned as Patrice Bergeron’s late goal pushes Bruins past Devils||10.20.16 at 9:52 pm ET|
The lines may have shaken up, but the source of offense didn’t. With the return of Patrice Bergeron, forwards found themselves in new roles, but in a 2-1 rout of the Devils, the Bruins proved their top six forwards can be relied upon no matter which line they’re skating on.
Bergeron provided the dagger with just 1:15 left to claim the win for the Bruins, one-timing a shot off a pass from Brad Marchand to put the Bruins up by the decisive margin.
“I saw an opening,” Bergeron said. “I thought there was a little miscommunication on the D zone and I knew that Brad was going to come around the net and see me there, so I was just waiting and I was ready for the one-timer and obviously I was just trying to put it on net. I wasn’t necessarily trying to look at an area; I was just trying to put it on net and I was lucky to get that goal.”
Faced with a one-goal deficit and less than 10 minutes to play, Marchand danced his way from center ice into the offensive zone at 9:47 and wristed the puck through the five-hole of Devils captain Andy Greene and over the right shoulder of Cory Schneider.
“Well obviously we got the result that wanted. I thought for the most part it was an exciting game. New Jersey is an improved hockey club,” head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought their transition game was good and we knew that before the game started but we told our guys that we needed to be patient and play our game and it wasn’t going to be a high scoring game but we had to really stay with it and I thought our guys did a really good job. Unfortunately they got that first goal again but I liked our response after that.”
With the return of Bergeron, David Backes slid from centering the first line to the right wing of the second, and was still a seamless fit — as was Bergeron in Backes’ vacated role.
The Devils’ lone goal came a little over five and a half minutes before Marchand’s. On the power play, Kyle Palmieri snuck a shot underneath Brandon Carlo before gliding between the legs of an unassuming Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins will take the ice again on Saturday in their first matchup this season against the Canadiens.
Here are four more things we learned in Thursday’s win.
David Backes will only help improve David Krejci
Backes skating to Krejci’s right has already started turning into a potent combination, even if it didn’t result in any points on Thursday. Even with Danton Heinen being virtually absent on the second line, both Backes and Krejci did a good job of opening up the ice and creating chances for one another.
I thought we had some good stuff,” Krejci said. “Good forecheck, good rushes, a couple good scoring chances, so just kind of stay positive and it will come.”
Torey Krug can be serviceable on the right side, but should not totally relied upon
It has not been a frequent choice of Claude Julien’s, and it should probably remain that way. Krug was moved to the right side so he could pair with Joe Morrow, who was getting his first game action this season. While he certainly wasn’t awful, he looked visibly more comfortable offensively when he was playing left while on the power play.
“Yeah I think Torey had some hiccups tonight with the puck but I thought as the game went on, he definitely got better and took charge and that’s what we want from Torey.”
He spent time playing on the right when he was coming up through Providence, and per Julien when he made the decision, “He’s very comfortable on the right.”
The reality appears after this small sample size, however, that given Morrow’s streakiness — especially with the lack of routine playing time — it’s not worthy to take offense out of Krug in order to get Morrow in the lineup.
The power play still needs work
At times, the power play was painfully underwhelming.
Giveaways in the offensive zone led to the Bruins falling to 1-for-14 on the power play this season after failing to execute on all four of their opportunities Thursday night.
“Yeah. [Bergeron] was a little bit better. We got some more scoring chances. The puck’s not finding the back of the net. But, like I said, stay positive and keep creating chances and eventually, it will go in.”
Passing is going to create problems
While an excuse can be made that the situation will fix itself with time, the Bruins’ inability to pass effectively came close to detrimental at multiple points.
Nearing the end of the first period, Brad Marchand had a brutal giveaway at center ice that nearly allowed the Devils into the attacking zone without any pressure.
Colin Miller didn’t help the cause much on the power play, either, allowing an errant pass as he tripped to fall to a Devils stick and be cleared out of the zone.
|Bruins preview: Players to watch, guys who could be traded and dumb takes to avoid||10.12.16 at 2:00 pm ET|
The NHL season is upon us, leaving Bruins fans wondering whether they’re in for a return to the playoffs or just another frustrating regular season.
Heading into Thursday night’s season opener against the Blue Jackets, B’s fans are probably leaning toward the latter, but an influx of youth into the lineup makes this a potentially exciting team to watch this season, even if expectations aren’t set particularly high.
We’ve done basically every type of season preview imaginable over the years, but Ben Rohrbach did one like this a while back and I want to copy that style, so here’s a bunch of lists to get you ready for the Bruins’ season:
Three questions you probably have:
Will they make the playoffs?
Maybe. Detroit is the only Eastern Conference playoff team from last season that looks like a safe bet to fall out of the playoff picture, and the Canadiens will fare better than they did a season ago. The third Atlantic spot would be a good goal for the Bruins, but their roster isn’t any better than it was when they missed the postseason a year ago.
Will Claude Julien get fired?
I’m not gaga about this team, but the schedule is pretty light early on (see below), so it’s hard to envision them stumbling so much out of the gate that they’d have to pull the plug. If they do struggle, however, he’s an easy scapegoat.
How will the defense be?
You know the answer to that.
Four rookies who are getting a shot:
Austin Czarnik: Of the Bruins’ four rookies, he’s the only who isn’t a first-year pro. Czarnik recently suffered a concussion, but returned to practice Wednesday. The speedy center was all but penciled in to be the team’s third-line center leading up to his injury, and should still get that spot.
Brandon Carlo: The 6-foot-5 righty is eligible for Providence, and while he’ll start the season in Boston, the team is high enough on him that he might have made the team otherwise. Still, he’s just 19, so if he gets squeezed out of the lineup he’ll be better off in the AHL.
Danton Heinen: After two years at the University of Denver, Heinen went pro with an outside shot of making the B’s. That became a reality when Frank Vatrano needed foot surgery and Heinen tied for the team lead with three preseason goals.
Rob O’Gara: Carlo isn’t the only tall rookie defenseman on the roster. The 6-foot-4 Yale grad’s best bet at getting into games early on would be if the team opted to sit Joe Morrow despite the injuries on the blue line.
Three new guys and one kind of new guy:
David Backes: He’s 32 and he’s on a five-year deal. The best-case scenario is that he’s the guy he was last postseason (seven goals and seven assists for 14 points) and sustains that for a few years.
Dominic Moore: Tied with old friend Lee Stempniak for most teams, the journeyman center is a logical fit centering the fourth line.
Riley Nash: When guys are healthy he’s a fourth-line wing. He can also play center if needed.
Anton Khudobin: If Tuukka Rask’s numbers aren’t the same with a lesser defense, banking on Khudobin to experience smooth sailing his second time in Boston might be an overestimation.
Two guys they’ll miss:
Loui Eriksson: The B’s chose David Backes’ mid-30s over Eriksson’s. We’ll see if that was the right decision, but the guess here is that it wasn’t.
Frank Vatrano: Well at least he’ll be back. After scoring 36 goals in 36 AHL games last season, Vatrano might end up scoring no goals in the first 36 NHL games this season due to foot surgery. He’s expected back sometime around late December.
Two guys who could be traded:
Adam McQuaid: The 30-year-old is a good third-pairing right defenseman, but the B’s already have one of those in the younger and cheaper Kevan Miller. McQuaid has three years left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $2.75 million. Moving him would allow the B’s to give a full-time job to Carlo should they feel he’s ready.
Ryan Spooner: This goes against the whole “developing young talent” thing, but the fact is they need a sure thing on defense and Spooner is rightfully one of their best chips because he’s a good young player. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
One guy they’ll have to bury in the AHL:
Zac Rinaldo: I’ll be maybe the first person to ever say “the poor guy” when referring to Rinaldo, but it’s true. He didn’t trade a third-round pick for himself.
One smart re-signing:
John-Michael Liles: They’ve got too many bodies on D (seven defenders are on one-way deals), but if the B’s do make moves, Liles has the flexibility to serve as a left or right defenseman on the second or third pairing. He also provides time for guys like Carlo to develop in the AHL if need be.
One happy stat:
– The Bruins are going to score because they pretty much always do. They finished fifth in goals last season and have finished in the top five in four of the last five 82-game seasons.
One sad stat:
– The Bruins had three 30-goal-scorers last year. They replaced one of them (Eriksson) with a guy (Backes) who has seen his goal total decline in each of the past two seasons, from 27 in 2013-14 to 21 last season.
One guy who will have better luck than last year:
Torey Krug: His four goals last season were surprising, but he had a career-high 244 shots on goal with an unbelievably unfortunate 1.6 shooting percentage. If that percentage bumps up to even 5 (it was 7.7 and 5.9 his other two seasons), he would have had 12 goals. Krug still managed to rack up 40 assists and a career-high 44 points. Between his performance and his health throughout his career (he’s missed a total of eight regular-season games in his three full seasons), there isn’t much to worry about with Krug.
Speaking of Krug, three guys who could get Chris Kelly’s ‘A’:
Torey Krug: The top choice here. Young guy who’s got his act together and, most importantly, hasn’t won. You won’t find complacency there.
David Backes: The longtime captain of the Blues has made himself comfortable in Boston.
Brad Marchand: Often times, you just give the letter to the best player. Marchand cares more than anybody, but it’s safe to assume he’s got at least three or four more suspensions ahead of him in his career.
Three dumb takes you might hear during the season:
Brad Marchand’s on pace for fewer than 37 goals. Did they sign him too early?
– No. He took a team-friendly deal. Even with something of a statistical regression, he still could have gotten that deal at the end of the season. It just wouldn’t be as team-friendly.
(After month) They’re in first place. Are they Cup contenders?
– Seriously, watch out for mid-November, because the B’s might be sitting pretty standings-wise at that point. Only six of their first 16 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, including five straight against non-playoff teams to begin the season. By Nov. 13 (the end of another such five-game stretch), high standing would be encouraging, but not a sign that their problems are fixed.
(Probably at a lot of points when they lose) Julien’s the problem.
– He probably won’t be the problem that often.
|Brad Marchand says deal was pretty much done before Sidney Crosby speculation began||10.03.16 at 1:09 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — Brad Marchand knew well before signing his contract extension last week that he’d be staying in Boston on a long-term deal. In his words, it was “so close to being done” before he left for the World Cup of Hockey, and that minor details needed to be tied up before his eight-year pact would be signed.
Other people knew as well, a group that obviously included his agent and Bruins management. Patrice Bergeron also knew, as it would have been pretty inconsiderate to keep him in the dark as seemingly logical speculation began to emerge that his longtime linemate could run off with World Cup linemate Sidney Crosby next summer.
“I was in the loop with him,” Bergeron said Monday. “I kind of knew what was going on. Otherwise I would have been worried for sure, especially the way he was playing with Sid and the chemistry they had, but it’s well-deserved.“
Said Marchand: “It was funny. The deal was pretty much done when some of that stuff was all coming out. It was tough for me to comment, but it was interesting. We had some good laughs about it, but ultimately we knew we were going to be here where we wanted to be.”
Without knowing that a deal with Boston was all but done, it would be hard to blame someone for thinking that the Penguins might do what they could to land Marchand as a free agent. Skating with Crosby and Bergeron, Marchand led the World Cup of Hockey with five goals in six games.
With Marchand coming off a 37-goal season and Crosby still being Crosby, the duo could have been dominant in Pittsburgh, but Marchand passed that up by forgoing free agency and taking eight years — something no other team could give him — in Boston. In order to take the maximum eight years, Marchand accepted a lower cap hit than he’d have gotten elsewhere, with his $6.125 million average annual value sitting lower than he could have easily commanded on the open market.
“I wanted to be here as long as I can and play as long as I possibly can,” he said. “That’s where I think the eighth year came in for myself and for the team allowed a lower cap hit. I don’t think at the end of the day I’m more concerned with the overall dollar value as I am about being part of this team for a long time.”
Marchand also admitted part of signing before his walk year was to avoid the attention that accompanies free agents to-be. He said Loui Eriksson’s final season in Boston was cumbersome for both the player and his teammates.
“I just remember watching Loui last year and what we all had to deal with with answering questions all the time and the uncertainty about him being around this year,” Marchand said. “It’s a lot to weigh on the players, on the minds of everyone, on himself and on the management where instead of focusing on individual players and where they’re going to be, more about the team stuff and what we needed to do to win. I think all that is something we had in mind. We wanted to get it done and put it behind us.”
|Bruins sign Brad Marchand to 8-year extension with $6.125 million AAV||09.26.16 at 11:16 am ET|
The Bruins and Brad Marchand have agreed to an eight-year, $49 million contract extension that carries a confusingly team-friendly cap hit of $6.125 million. News of the agreement and terms were first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
“This is an extremely exciting day for me and my family,” Marchand said in a press release Monday. “I would like to thank the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, Claude Julien, the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support and belief in me. I have been a Bruin since the start of my pro career and there is no place I would rather play. I look forward to doing everything I can to help our team achieve success and bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.”
Marchand’s deal will begin in the 2017-18 season, meaning he will be signed from age 29 until 36, as he will turn 37 in May of the final year of the deal. He is coming off the best season of his career, a campaign in which he scored a team-leading 37 goals.
According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Marchand’s deal carries a full no-movement clause for the first five years before becoming a limited no-trade clause.
Between Marchand’s cap hit and Patrice Bergeron’s $6.875 million hit, the B’s will have their two best forwards signed for a combined $13 million against the salary cap.
|Claude Julien returns from World Cup of Hockey to talk about how great Brad Marchand is||09.22.16 at 3:50 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — With Team Canada being given
a break from destroying everyone at the World Cup of Hockey an off day, Claude Julien flew from Toronto to Boston to brag about destroying everyone at the World Cup of Hockey check in with the Bruins for the start of training camp.
Julien, who is running Team Canada’s penalty kill under Mike Babcock, said that he came back to “make sure everything got off on the right foot” before his assistants take over for the opening days of practice. Canada, which won all three of its first-round games, will play an elimination game Saturday in the tournament semifinals. Canada would be a heavy favorite against its potential opponents (Russia or Team North America), so it could be a few days before Julien is in Boston again.
Two thirds of Canada’s top line is made up of Bruins, as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have flanked Sidney Crosby in the tournament. Julien said he didn’t need to talk Babcock into forming the line given Bergeron’s chemistry with Crosby in the Olympics and Marchand since the 2010-11 season.
“I didn’t have to push for any of that, to be honest with you,” Julien said. “One of the reasons is Sid and Bergy have obviously played together before. At the same time, when you look at Bergy and March, they’re pretty good together as a pair. It just seemed to be the right fit to start with, and it just worked out. We weren’t necessarily thinking, ‘That’s the line, it’s going to stay that way.’ They certainly had to prove that they were a good line and they did that. Our two guys have no doubt been dialed in from Day 1 and to me have been tremendous players for our hockey club.”
Marchand, who is entering the final year of his contract, scored a career-best 37 goals last season.
“I think Brad’s been that kind of a player for quite a long time,” Julien said. “We just have to look back from his first year to where he is now. When I say he’s matured as a hockey player, he’s also matured as a person because he’s also become a pretty good leader. Right now, where he is with Team Canada, he’s also very respected by his teammates for the way he prepares, the way he plays and everything else. He’s come a long ways, and at the same time, what better way to grow and become better than when you’re playing alongside probably one of the best two-way centers in the league? He’s had that luxury, and as a coach, you’re extremely proud of what they’ve done so far.”
|Brad Marchand has 3-point first period for Team Canada in World Cup of Hockey opener||09.18.16 at 9:39 am ET|
The World Cup of Hockey isn’t going well for the United States, but local hockey fans have other players to follow in the tournament.
Hours after Team USA was upset in a shutout loss to Team Europe, tournament favorite Team Canada trounced the Czech Republic with a 6-0 victory. Two players had three-point nights for Canada. One of them was Sidney Crosby (as you might expect) and the other was his linemate, Brad Marchand. All three of Marchand’s points came in the first period.
Marchand got a helper on the game’s first goal (scored by Crosby), scored a goal of his own by tipping a Brent Burns point shot late in the period and then assisted linemate Patrice Bergeron’s last-second goa. Bergeron’s goal came when Marchand jumped on a puck off a Czech turnover by Crosby and then fed a trailing Bergeron.
Team Canada will play Team USA on Tuesday. The States won when the two teams played in a pre-tournament exhibition, but Saturday’s performances (including some questionable moves by USA coach John Tortorella) present the likelihood that Team USA could be a 3-and-out for the tournament. The top two teams from each group advance, and an 0-2 start would essentially seal the States’ fate.
|Don Sweeney latest to not say much about Brad Marchand’s contract||09.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET|
BOLTON — Since we last heard from Brad Marchand, the only way he’s gotten richer is by making a $104.4 million friend in World Cup of Hockey linemate Sidney Crosby. The high-scoring Bruins winger is still waiting on his own payday, however.
Speaking at the Bruins’ golf tournament Monday, general manager Don Sweeney gave the latest in what’s been a series of vague comments regarding the free-agent-to-be. Marchand, 28, is the Bruins’ best scorer and is due for a sizable raise from his team-friendly $4.5 million cap hit.
“We’re working on it,” Sweeney said. “As I’ve said, we’re never going to comment publicly, but we look forward to hopefully finding traction and getting something done.”
Marchand said prior to leaving for the World Cup of Hockey that he would like to sign a new contract with the Bruins. His deal would figure to be a longterm pact in excess of $7 million annually given that his 37 goals last season made him one of just eight players in the NHL to score at least 35.
“This is an incredible organization and one that I think we’re all very fortunate to be part of,” Marchand said earlier this month. “It would be great to be able to be here my whole career, and you see how rare that is nowadays. It doesn’t happen often, so it would be an incredible thing, but a lot of things have to line up for that to happen, not only now but down the road, so we’ll play it year-by-year.”