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Zac Rinaldo voted dirtiest, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara voted biggest pains in National Post NHL player poll 03.29.16 at 1:54 pm ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

The National Post polled both NHL players and fans on a number of NHL-related topics recently, ranging from who they felt would win the Stanley Cup to which Canadian cities in the league they liked and disliked.

The Bruins were well-represented in the responses from players. On the subject of who was the “biggest pain in the ass to play against,” Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand tied for the most votes, as Chara, Marchand, Corey Perrt and Ryan Kesler each received 11 percent of the votes. Three-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron got nine percent of the votes.

As one might have expected, the Bruins were also popular in the dirtiest player vote, as nearly half of the votes cast went to players in the Boston organization. Zac Rinaldo, who is currently playing in Providence but will serve a five-game suspension when he returns to the NHL, got 25 percent of the votes. Just behind him was Marchand at 22 percent. Marchand and Rinaldo tied for the most votes in last year’s poll.

Former Bruin Phil Kessel was voted the most overrated player in the NHL, getting 29 percent of the votes. To see the complete results as well as the fan vote, click here.

National Post graphic

National Post graphic

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Brad Marchand hopes to snap scoring slump while helping Bruins secure playoff spot 03.25.16 at 4:04 pm ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

WILMINGTON — Here’s how widespread the Bruins’ goal-scoring woes are right now: Even Brad Marchand has gone seven games without a goal.

Seven games (a span in which he also has just one assist) hardly presents reason for a player to panic, but in a season like Marchand’s — 34 goals in his first 64 games — the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer admits that it’s felt like a while.

“It is a long time, especially at this time of year when it’s so important,” Marchand said Friday. “It’s frustrating, but you’ve got to stick with it and eventually it’s going to go in.”

Like linemate Patrice Bergeron, any statistical speed bumps for Marchand tend to get overlooked because they rarely mean the player is actually performing poorly. To that end, Marchand and his linemates have only had one particularly bad game possession-wise in that stretch (Thursday against the Panthers on a night that saw Vincent Trocheck’s line with Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith do very well against Boston’s top line). Over the last seven games, the Bruins have attempted 24 more 5-on-5 shots on goal with Marchand on the ice than they’ve surrendered.

So Marchand doesn’t feel particularly bad about his game right now, as he noted his 11-game stretch without a goal from Dec. 16 to Jan. 13 (with a suspension wedged in there) was the only time this season in which he’s truly felt that he had cooled. Still, the team needs the scoring a lot more than he does.

The Bruins have managed just six goals over the last six games. David Krejci is not at his best and Ryan Spooner’s five-on-five play has dropped off. That leaves Bergeron and Marchand’s line to carry the weight for the Bruins as they try to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Though these numbers are more of a sign that Marchand’s teammates need to pull their weight more than he does, he’s the best they’ve got. If anybody is going to singlehandedly score enough to help the Bruins out of their slump, it’s Marchand.

“Any time you go through a tough stretch and you’re on a scoring line or you’re positioned to score, you definitely feel that pressure,” he said. “You want to produce, you want to help the team, but collectively we all have to be a little bit better. We’re still giving up too many goals in wins. If we can be a little bit better defensively, that will help us out, too.”

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Brad Marchand hopes he’s still a candidate to make Team Canada 03.03.16 at 11:56 am ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

When the preliminary roster of Team Canada was chosen for the World Cup of Hockey, general manager Doug Armstrong called the members of the 2014 Olympic team that had not yet been named to the roster. It was a classy thing to do, not only to soften the blow but to remind the players that they could still be in the mix for the June 1 final roster.

The question then becomes whether a similar call was placed to non-Olympians who just missed the cut. Did Armstrong call the other fringe-players not yet named to Team Canada?

“Nope,” Brad Marchand said with a laugh Thursday. “Not me, anyways.”

“You’d have to talk to Bergy about that,” Marchand added when asked about having contact with the Hockey Canada folks. “He would know a lot more than me.”

Marchand was one of many capable players not included on the preliminary roster of 16, which was revealed Wednesday. While teammates past and present such as Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron were named to the squad, Marchand will now join Canadians such as P.K. Subban, Mark Giordano and Claude Giroux as those hopeful to eventually make the team.

Perhaps a longshot to make the team at the beginning of the season, Marchand’s career-high 32 goals and counting have entered him into the discussion. After twice winning the gold in representing Canada in the 2007 and 2008 World Juniors, Marchand would like to once again compete internationally. With that said, he hid any disappointment in not making the initial 16 well.

“I think when you look at the team, there’s a lot o phenomenal players on that roster,” Marchand said. “I was very happy for all the guys, [having] played with Segs and Bergy, it was great to see them on that list. I’m very happy for both of them.”

Claude Julien will be an assistant coach under head coach Mike Babcock for the team. Though Marchand joked that he thought he was on Julien’s good side, Julien was diplomatic in not showing his bias.

“We’ll see with time,” Julien said. “There’s obviously a lot of names out there. As you often hear, Canada could probably make a couple of teams and still be pretty competitive. He’s definitely a guy that’s on the radar, but the top 16 have been named and there’s a lot of guys that could have been named too on those top 16s. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes here. A lot of players are still on the radar.”

Bergeron was less guarded, giving Marchand his full endorsement.

“It would be great,” Bergeron said. “I think he’s proven himself over the years, and especially this year, how good he is and competitive he is every game. He always makes something happen every time he steps on the ice. Right now, he’s on pace for getting to close to 40. He’s been very impressive this year and has been a huge part of helping me be a good player every game.”

One glaring difference between Marchand and the 16 players who did make the team: supplemental discipline. Though there are players on Team Canada who have been suspended by the NHL in the past (Duncan Keith twice, as well as that badass Jonathan Toews who was likely out doing badass things when he committed the suspendable act of declining to play in the All-Star Game this year), none have the reputation of Marchand, who has been suspended four times for a total of 12 games over the course of his NHL career.

“I don’t think that how you play against other players on the ice is going to affect how a team or your chemistry’s going to be,” Marchand said. “Guys in this league know that every day you go on the ice, you’re doing a job. We all go out there to do the same thing. That’s to help our team win, however you do that. Guys play harder than I do or dirtier than I do. I don’t think that has any affect on it. I think it’s more about who they think is going to help the team win.”

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5 things we learned: Tuukka Rask stays hot, Matt Beleskey continues to score in win 02.26.16 at 9:41 pm ET
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Back before the go-to goaltending concern was whether Tuukka Rask was going to have to play every game, the biggest one was making sure Boston’s goaltender — whether that happened to be Tim Thomas or Rask — would turn it on down the stretch.

If the last five games are any indication, the B’s are getting good news in that regard. In stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced in a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes Friday, Tuukka Rask has a .951 save percentage in his last five starts. The Bruins have gone 4-1-0 in that span.

The Bruins have one more game prior to Monday’s trade deadline, as they’ll host the Lightning Sunday at TD Garden. Both the Bruins and the Bolts have 74 points on the season, though Boston has played 62 games to Tampa’s 61.

Here are four more things we learned Friday:

BELESKEY STAYS HOT, MATCHES CAREER-HIGH

With another two-goal game — his second in his last three games — Matt Beleskey tied his career-high in points with 32. Beleskey put up 32 points a season ago in 65 games for the Ducks and has done so in 60 games this season.

The third-line left wing is currently enjoying his best offensive stretch as a Bruin. He has six points (five goals and an assist) over his last four games. The 27-year-old is on pace to finish the season with 43 points.

PLAYING POSSESSED

Until the Hurricanes got some chances against them late in the second period, Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line dominated play over the opening 40 minutes. The trio was on the ice for 13 shots for and three shots against over the first two periods, with Bergeron leading all players with an 84.21 Corsi For percentage in the opening 40. He and Brad Marchand finished the game tied with a game-best 74.07 mark.

One of those shot attempts went in off Bergeron’€™s stick, as Brett Connolly’€™s pressure forced a turnover that made its way to Bergeron, who beat Cam Ward for the game’€™s first goal. With the goal, Bergeron moved into a tie with Loui Eriksson for second on the team with 23 goals this season.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Brad Marchand on Loui Eriksson uncertainty: ‘We all want to contend’ 02.22.16 at 1:25 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

Like a lot of current Bruins, Brad Marchand has never seen his team trade a key player at the trade deadline. It’€™s no secret that such could be the case this season as the Bruins weigh their options with Loui Eriksson leading up to next Monday’s trade deadline.

If the Bruins are to trade Eriksson, their best winger not named Marchand but one whose contract expires at the end of the season, they will be selling a key piece despite being in playoff position. As David Krejci said earlier this month, Bruins players don’€™t want to spend the stretch run — which features 23 games, 15 of which are against opponents currently in playoff position — playing meaningless games as a team that moved players and fell out of it.

Speaking Monday, Marchand avoided the subject of the Eriksson situation as much as possible, but said that he was encouraged enough by the team’€™s recently concluded 4-2-0 road trip that the team shouldn’€™t feel forced to sell.

“Right now, with the way the standings are, everybody’€™s very close. If we continue to play good hockey and come together and play well, then we have the opportunity to stay in a playoff spot. We all want to contend,” Marchand said. “We all believe in our team in here, but obviously whatever the management does, that’€™s their job. We’€™re not going to worry about that. We’€™re just going to come prepared to play every night.”

Eriksson is third on the Bruins with 21 goals this season. This is his sixth 20-goal season and second consecutive season reaching that mark with the Bruins. He is one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted players and the Bruins would go from having a chance at making noise against non-Washington teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs to a potential fringe-playoff team if they traded him for futures.

Of course, Eriksson is also in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.25 million. He’€™s due a big raise from that number, with it still unknown whether the Bruins will be the team to give it to him. If Eriksson agrees soon, the team obviously won’€™t lose one of its best players down the stretch, which would help this season’€™s odds.

“That’€™s not up to us,” Marchand said. “Obviously Loui’€™s a big part of the team and he’€™s been playing very well lately. Every night he helps our team and that’€™s what we need him to do.”

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Bruins make it ‘special’ night for Milan Lucic, allow most shots in 51 years 02.10.16 at 1:47 am ET
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Nine.

The most goals allowed by the Bruins in a game since 2008.

Fifty-seven.

The most shots allowed in a game by the Bruins since 1965.

That’€™s 1965, 51 years ago, the year civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers. Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnny Bucyk was in his prime at 29 years of age.

To say that former Bruins winger Milan Lucic and L.A. did a number on Boston Tuesday night at TD Garden in a 9-2 Kings victory would be quite the understatement.

“You’re here win a game, you know?” Lucic said with a chuckle when asked if it felt awkward to beat his former mates so decisively. “You win by one, you win by seven it doesn’t matter, a win’s a win. I guess you can’t feel too bad. You come in here and try to get those bragging rights and have it over your former teammates. It was a full team effort from the net out and I was glad to get that win.”

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Read More: Brad Marchand, Kevan Miller, Milan Lucic, Patric Bergeron
Suspended Brad Marchand dealing with extra-long break 01.04.16 at 12:54 pm ET
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Twelve is an interesting number for Brad Marchand.

It’€™s the number of games he’€™s been suspended over four different punishments since becoming an NHL regular in 2010-11. It’€™s also the total number of games he’€™s missed otherwise.

So Marchand is used to playing, and half the time that he isn’€™t he’s still healthy. Marchand’s lack of injury history is significant enough to make any stretch out of the lineup uncommon. This is nearly the longest such stretch of his career.

Although Marchand was once suspended for five games back in January of 2012 for low-bridging Sami Salo, the timing of the Winter Classic has made it so his current three-game suspension is only one day shorter than the aforementioned five-gamer. Marchand’€™s 2012 ban kept him out of action for 11 days, while this one is 10 days long.

“I’€™m not going to lose anything. It’€™s been a long season and I’€™ve been playing a lot of minutes this year. I feel like my stamina’€™s up,” a sweaty Marchand said after putting in extra skating in Monday’s practice. “You work harder when you’€™re out than when you’€™re in anyway, so I’€™m going to work harder the next eight or nine days than I will if I’€™m playing.

“The main thing that I always find is that when you miss a few games, you come back hungrier and ready to go. Hopefully that’€™s the case and I come back and play well right away.”

Marchand should hope so. He is currently enjoying the best season of his career (15 goals, on pace for a career-high 34) and the Bruins have been hard-pressed for offense of late.

His suspension, handed out last week after a hit on Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki, has rubbed Marchand the wrong way for a couple reasons. Among them was that he had to sit in the press box during the Winter Classic rather than playing.

“It was definitely tough. Just frustrating,” Marchand said. “There’€™s nothing I could really do about it.”

Marchand has copped to foul play in the past, but he remains adamant that he wasn’€™t trying to hit Borowiecki, let alone low-bridge him. The Department of Player Safety factored in Marchand’€™s tendency for hitting players low when making their ruling.

“There’€™s a lot of difference between that hit and previous ones,” Marchand said. “I wasn’€™t even trying to make a hit there. It is what it is. It’€™s a hockey play and those things happen.”

Marchand will be available to return to the Bruins on Jan. 9 against the Senators. He’€™ll have to be on his best behavior.

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