|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Brad Marchand ‘running out of race track pretty fast’||11.21.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming game against the Blues, the recent struggles of Brad Marchand, as well as other news from across the NHL.
Boston have been rolling as of late, winning six out of its last seven games. Despite the dominant run in November, some members of the Bruins have been slumping, namely Marchand. The 25-year-old winger has yet to really find his bearings so far this year, as he has seen a dip in his production (eight points in 21 games) while increasing his turnovers and penalties. Bruins coach Claude Julien‘s frustration with Marchand has become apparent over the last few days, as Marchand was demoted to the fourth line during Monday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina.
“[Marchand’s] just going through tough times right now as a player on the ice and he’s not helping himself at all,” McGuire said. “He is running out of race track pretty fast in terms of some of his decision-making.”
The Bruins will have a tough task in their next game, as they will face off against the Blues, who hold the third seed in the Western Conference with a 14-3-3 record. St. Louis, off to its best 20-game start in franchise history, has gotten a big boost from Alexander Steen, who leads the NHL with 17 goals.
“[St. Louis] learned a lot from their first-round loss to Los Angeles last year, where it was just a battle of attrition,” McGuire said. It was just unbelievably savage the entire series and obviously Steen is off to a great start. It’s the depth of their team. … they remind me so much of the Boston Bruins. They really do.The teams are so similar. … This is a great game you guys are going to have tonight. Unbelievable game.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, a former Bruin’s play is starting to attract attention, as Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas has been viewed as a possible candidate to the U.S. Olympic team. Thomas has bounced back from a poor start to post solid numbers over the last month (2.49 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in November).
“He’s definitely worked his way back into the discussion, I can tell you that right now,” McGuire said. “He’s back into the discussion, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the team. One of the reasons why he’s back in the discussion, the injury to Jonathan Quick, who won’t be back until December, maybe even not until the middle of December. The other thing is Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard have both been lukewarm … and Cory Schneider is sitting on the bench in New Jersey behind Martin Brodeur.”
|Patrice Bergeron’s line too quiet for Bruins||11.06.13 at 7:05 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson is back. Now how about some goals?
No, not just from Eriksson, but from Patrice Bergeron‘s line as a whole. Regardless of who else has been on Bergeron’s line — and there have been three different configurations so far this season — it hasn’t been scoring.
In the last seven games, Bergeron’s line, whether Reilly Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson, Smith-Bergeron-Brad Marchand or Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson, has scored a grand total of one goal. Bergeron is one of the best players in the league (arguably the best player on the Bruins), but top-six lines need to produce, and his hasn’t.
Bergeron’s third-period goal last Wednesday is the second line’s only goal since the Bruins’ 5-0 win over the Lightning on Oct. 19. It’s safe to say that Lightning game was the most complete game the B’s have played this season, and a lot of that is due to the fact that Bergeron’s line simply hasn’t been going.
Consider that Bergeron himself has been a minus player in two of the last three games and three times this season after having a negative rating in just five games total last season. Goals are being scored against the Bergeron line, but just as worrisome is the fact that it hasn’t been producing.
Sure, there are some reasons as to why. Bergeron’s coming off a few injuries, there’s turnover with Eriksson coming aboard, there have been moving parts on the wings and Marchand is in the midst of what will likely go down as one of the worst slumps (12 games without a goal) of his career. That’s no excuse for a line centered by Bergeron to be anything less than very good.
‘There have been a lot of changes, but the bottom line is that you have to find ways to do your job,’ Bergeron said. ‘It seems now that hopefully it’s going to stay [the same] and we can do some great things.’
Indeed, it does. Tuesday’s game marked the first of this season that the Bruins used the lines they had put in place in the final week of the preseason to be their lineup. Yet injuries to Carl Soderberg and Eriksson messed with that, and on Tuesday the Bruins played their fifth game of the season with the Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson line. It was the first time the trio had played together since the second period of the fourth game of the season.
While the results were underwhelming with a no-show on the scoring sheet, the line actually did play well, with the trio moving the puck well and creating chances in Eriksson’s first game back from a concussion.
Encouraging is good, but it doesn’t put points on the table. Marchand, who spent four games and a period on the third line after a demotion against the Blue Jackets last month, has just one goal through 14 games this season. Last season he’d already scored nine times through 14 contests.
Between Marchand’s struggles and Eriksson’s absence, Claude Julien doesn’t sound too surprised by the lack of offensive output.
‘You’ve got a guy that just came back from a concussion, and you’ve got another guy that hasn’t played extremely well,’ Julien said. ‘There’s a mixture there that doesn’t really [suggest] success, does it? I think it’s just a matter of getting those guys going.’
Tuesday was definitely a step in the right direction, but the B’s need their second line’s fortune to change if the team wants to have the success of years past. Remember, all three members of the line (Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Marchand) found themselves top five in the league in plus/minus two seasons ago. Those kind of numbers don’t come without putting the puck in the net.
‘I’m trying to play my game and do everything right, but production is part of my game also, and I need to find that,’ Bergeron said. ‘With that being said, it’s about bearing down when we do have some chances.’
|Brad Marchand talks Mike Napoli shirtless celebration, early season struggles||11.04.13 at 1:17 pm ET|
“Yeah, I did,” Marchand said when asked if he saw how Napoli had celebrated. “I did it first, though.”
That was the lightest moment in a conversation that centered mostly on Marchand’s underwhelming start to the season.
Playing between the second and third lines, Marchand has just one goal and three assists with a minus-3 rating through 13 games, hasn’t been his usual aggressive self and has been a turnover machine. He certainly spoke Monday like a player whose confidence has taken a hit.
“I thought I trained as hard this summer as I did any summer,” Marchand said. “I came in and things aren’t going right. It’s definitely frustrating when you can’t pinpoint exactly what’s going wrong. It just seems like everything’s going wrong right now.
“I think it’s more about effort right now and working hard. Normally when you do that and you work harder than you ever have, it will come together.”
When asked about Marchand’s game, Claude Julien was rather blunt.
“He’s not playing the way he should,” the coach said. “There’s nothing coming out of his game right now. ‘¦ He’s really struggling to find his game, and sometimes you’ve just got to work your way through it.
“Brad is a good skater, and I don’t think he’s skating as well as he can. He’s obviously much better with the puck at managing it, and he hasn’t been great at that either. I think a lot of that is a result of frustration and putting a lot of pressure on himself. It’s not making it any easier.”
Asked if Marchand’s struggles have gotten to the point where a healthy scratch could be in order, a la Milan Lucic last season, Julien laughed and was noncommittal.
“That’s something I’ll address when the time comes,” Julien said., adding: “I go day by day, and if I feel it’s necessary, trust me, I’ll do it.”
|Claude Julien says Brad Marchand’s skating, work ethic need to improve||10.28.13 at 8:58 pm ET|
Marchand was demoted to the third line in favor of Reilly Smith in the third period of the Bruins’ fourth game of the season, but he’s back on Patrice Bergeron‘s line with Eriksson out. Julien said he spoke to Marchand and that skating and work ethic are the two things he needs to improve.
“Yeah, skating,” Julien said Monday. “We talked about that, and we had a real good practice today. He seemed to have a little bit more jump. I think when Brad skates the way Brad can skate, he’s quick. He’s a real fast skater and stuff like that. If he can start using his speed and put a real good work ethic along with that, like a compete level that we know he can, just those two things alone will make a huge difference for him. Today I think he responded well to that.
“I thought he had a real good practice. He was skating better than I’ve seen him skate in a while, so hopefully he continues to work on that part of it and he’s going to be fine.”
Marchand finished second on the Bruins with 28 goals in the 2011-12 season and figured to be in line for a big season as he enters his prime with the addition of Eriksson to his line. It hasn’t been pretty so far, however, as Marchand has one goal, a minus-1 rating and has committed numerous turnovers.
|Brad Marchand still on third line; Claude Julien doesn’t want to sit Jordan Caron for too long||10.21.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ forward lines remained unchanged Monday at Ristuccia Arena, meaning that Brad Marchand is sticking on the third line for the time being.
Jordan Caron, who was a healthy scratch Saturday against the Lightning to allow Carl Soderberg into the lineup, wore a third-line grey sweater along with Marchand, Chris Kelly and Soderberg. The lines were as follows.
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Smith – Bergeron – Eriksson
Soderberg/Caron – Kelly – Marchand
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
With Soderberg back from and ankle injury, Claude Julien said that he intends to keep forwards fresh by not letting them miss long stretches as healthy scratches, which is what he’s done on the back end with his seven defensemen.
“That would be the goal,” Julien said. “Right now, you saw Jordan sitting out, and I don’t think Jordan’s been a bad player for us. I think he’s played well, so you certainly don’t want guys sitting in the stands again for that long.
“We’re talking about the early part of the season here. When everybody’s playing well, you like to get them in and keep everybody going because at one point you’re going to run into some injuries. That’s also part of the game, and you want those guys as ready as can be, so we’re going to make some room for those guys to come in at times, and it might not always be the same player.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Tim Thomas ‘looks healthy and ready to go’||10.17.13 at 3:51 pm ET|
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, as well as Jarome Iginla‘s scoring drought and Brad Marchand‘s demotion to the third line.
Thursday’s game will be the first time that the Bruins will face off against Thomas, who played in Boston for eight seasons and won two Vezina Trophies (2009, 2011) as the league’s best goaltender during his tenure with the team. Thomas is best remembered for his incredible play in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup finals against the Canucks.
After the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs by the Capitals, Thomas announced that he was going to sit out the 2012-13 season. Still under contract with the Bruins during his hiatus, Thomas was traded to the Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013. The 39-year-old goalie then signed a contract with the Panthers on Sept. 26.
Brickey said that Thursday’s game certainly will be interesting, adding that the Bruins are motivated to hand their old teammate another loss on the young season.
“If anything you can [see] from the morning skate, [Thomas] looked good, he looked healthy, he looked pretty focused,” Brickley said. “He looks healthy and ready to go. Those numbers are a little inflated obviously with a little rust from taking the year off and then having to deal with an injury, but you know him and his competitiveness, he’ll be ready to go tonight.
“I don’t know if I would term [the Bruins’ mood towards Thomas] as animosity. The general sense that I get from being around the guys and certainly this morning is that this is a game that they want to win, but whatever personal reasons or whatever feelings they have for Tim Thomas, this is not a love-in. … This is a guy and a team that we want to beat, and want to beat real bad.”
|Loui Eriksson kicking old habits as he gets familiar with Bruins||10.07.13 at 9:21 pm ET|
It’s only been two games, but with a four-day break between games for the Bruins, there couldn’t be a better time for the first of what should be about 600 “How is Loui Eriksson fitting in?” posts.
The new second line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Eriksson has tried to gain chemistry while also handling some mighty tall tasks in matching up against Steven Stamkos‘ line Thursday and Pavel Datsyuk‘s line Saturday. The three kept Stamkos and Martin St. Louis’ trio off the board in season-opener and swapped goals with Datsyuk’s line in the Bruins’ win over the Red Wings.
Yet with Eriksson coming in to do more than defend, one couldn’t blame Bruins fans for being eager to see how the three will fare offensively. That’s a work in progress, as Eriksson admitted Monday that he’s still trying to shake some old habits.
“Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to play like I did in Dallas a little bit,” he admitted. “I’m just trying to learn to ‘¦ stay more on my side. I get a tendency to go on the other side. I think that’s a pretty simple thing to adjust to.”
Indeed, a first-period opportunity Saturday fell apart when Eriksson, a left-shot right wing, and Marchand didn’t seem to be on the same page on a play in which they were on the opposite wings. It wasn’t a matter of where they were on the ice, as that happens all the time, but Eriksson seemed to want to get back on their respective sides while Marchand appeared eager to continue as is. Marchand, waiting at the blue line, tried to stay the course and remain on the right side, while Eriksson seemed to be getting back over to the right side as he brought the puck through the neutral zone.
The good news is that there wasn’t any confusion the next period, when Marchand flew down the right wing and, with Bergeron driving the net, fired a shot past Jimmy Howard for his first goal of the season.
“You just need to read each other,” Eriksson said. “I think we’re getting better at that.”
The three players seemed to get more comfortable with one another as the game went on, and though it’s surprisingly been the third line that has perhaps clicked the most on the early season, Julien sees enough progress that he likes the direction in which perhaps his most important line is headed.
“I think you see it in practice, too. Games, practice. It’s a matter of time,” Julien said. “You can’t judge or expect miracles in the first few games of a season. You give them a good month to get to know each other and play together, and you hope that in that month it progresses. So far I’ve seen that from training camp to now.”