|Brad Marchand knows he’s not scoring or pestering enough||10.31.11 at 3:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Count Brad Marchand among the large group of Bruins players who have gotten off to poor starts this season, as the second-year pest, who scored 21 goals as a rookie, has been awfully quiet of late.
Marchand scored the Bruins’ first goal of the season and had two assists in the team’s second game against the Lightning, but much like his team, his production has gone downhill since. The 23-year-old had a third-period goal in the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes on Oct. 12, but since then has been kept off the scoring sheet in the last six games.
After such a strong rookie campaign, Marchand said that the one area in which he was focused on improving was getting pucks to the net. He did a pretty good job of that in the early going (two or more shots on goal in the first eight games), but has put just one puck on net over the last two games.
Despite his lack of production and lack of effectively bugging the opponent, Marchand isn’t expressing much frustration with his own game yet.
“Sometimes you get more opportunities [in some games] than you do in different games, but I just want to keep working hard and continue to build confidence,” Marchand said. “Hopefully the goals will come.”
As for the lack of getting under opponents’ skin, Marchand admitted there hasn’t been as much jawing and egging on, but that it’s been by design.
“I’ve been trying to stay away from that stuff doing too much of that stuff this year and just worry about playing, but I think I’m going to have to get back to it so I can play the same way I did last year,” Marchand said.
That he’s cut back on being a nuisance at all is surprising. Much like Milan Lucic with fighting, it seems players abandoning one aspect of their game can hurt their overall impact. Marchand rose to stardom a season ago not just for his scoring, but his complete package of grit, penalty-killing and his ability to drive opponents crazy.
Marchand has remained with Patrice Bergeron on the second line throughout the season, the there’s been a revolving door for the line’s right wing. The line started with Rich Peverley in Mark Recchi‘s old spot, and had Nathan Horton for a bit before Claude Julien put Tyler Seguin on the line.
Marchand and Bergeron work well together, as they did last season following his promotion from the team’s first line, but the success hasn’t been there yet. The Nova Scotia native said Monday he hasn’t observed any real differences in how teams and referees approach him this year.
“Not really,” Marchand said. “Every time you play a team, they play you hard and play you strong. Usually, Bergie’s line’s playing against the top line on the other team and trying to shut them down. Playing against top guys, it’s a little tougher.”
There’s no denying Marchand doesn’t have the easiest job in the world, but he faced top lines last season as well. Whether this is some sort of sophomore slump or not, the B’s are obviously hoping for bigger and better things after giving him a two-year deal with $2.5 million per year.
|Brad Marchand on M&M: ‘We’ve got to get on a roll’||10.26.11 at 1:44 pm ET|
The Bruins are 3-5-0 and next host the 1-5-2 Canadiens Thursday night in the first game of a home-and-home series. Despite the team’s losing records, Marchand said he expects the rivalry to resume in style.
“These [games] are a lot of fun and the crowd loves them,” he said. “They’re fun games to be in. We’re excited for them. ‘¦ We struggled against them last year a bit, so we do have to be better against them this year.”
Marchand said the Bruins are focused on making immediate improvement, with the goal of being among the top eight in the East a month from now.
“We talked about this last year: Usually by Thanksgiving, the teams that are in playoff position usually make the playoffs,” he said. “So, when it comes to that point, we want to make sure we’re in a playoff position. We’ve got to get on a roll if we’re going to do that. Tomorrow night’s a great way to start that.”
The Canadiens have a habit of embellishing to draw penalties, but Marchand wouldn’t take the bait when asked about that behavior. “That happens sometimes,” he said. “Not much you can really do but, I guess, worry about it after the fact.”
|Bruins need chances turn into goals quickly||10.24.11 at 4:12 pm ET|
The Bruins were able to do something last Thursday against the Maple Leafs that they haven’t done much this season: score goals in bulk. Their six-goal effort was one of just two games this season in which they were able to score three goals, so it’s no surprised their satisfactory 19 goals allowed is matched by a subpar 19 goals for.
The offensive struggles have been especially apparent early on, as quality chances haven’t yielded ideal results, which explains why the opponent has scored the first goal in the Bruins’ last six contests. When opportunities turn into squandered opportunities, and squandered opportunities turn into losses, the results aren’t pretty. The Bruins’ 3-5-0 record through eight games is proof of that.
“I think we’ve done a good job of creating chances,” third-line right wing Rich Peverley said Monday after the Bruins’ practice. “It’s not only first and second opportunities, it’s other opportunities. Third opportunities and fourth. At the same time, maybe we’re holding our sticks a little too tight, but we’ve got offensive guys in here that I think can put the puck in the net, so maybe it’s just finding their stride for some guys.”
The Bruins have a good chunk of time to loosen the grip on their sticks, as they will next play Thursday against the Canadiens at TD Garden. Maybe all the time off (they took Sunday off and may take another day off this week) will provide an opportunity to forget about their in-game woes, but the time they have in practice can also help them get back to basics.
“I think sometimes you need practice to help with structure,” Peverley explained. “There are obviously some things that we feel we need to work on. It’s important that we correct those.”
Boston has outshot its opponents in the last four games (2-2-0) after doing so just once in the season’s first four contests (1-3-0). The B’s had their fair share of scoring bids both early and late Saturday against the Sharks, but quality chances and odd-man rushes didn’t end up registering on the scoreboard until the third period and the Bruins lost, 4-2.
Now, with the statistical output not matching the team’s bids, the B’s have time to shake off their frustrations. Guys like Brad Marchand (no points the last four games) and even fourth-liners such as Daniel Paille, who has had multiple chances of late, figure to see results in time, however they may come.
“Sometimes it takes a lucky break to get a guy’s confidence back, but it’s just shooting the puck and putting the puck on net,” Peverley said. “Sometimes it will just find its way in.”
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Bruins ‘have to work through some frustrations’||10.14.11 at 10:33 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning for his weekly appearance. Ference discussed the Bruins’ slow start to the season and the reasons behind their struggles. Boston is 1-3, and some have wondered if the B’s are struggling from the so-called “Stanley Cup hangover.”
“I know that we’ve had some close games, we’ve been a bit frustrated that we’ve not been playing as good as we can,” Ference said. “We’re just going through a tough little stretch right now.”
Ference said that execution has been the problem for the Bruins, as they’ve played some “sloppy games.” The defenseman suggested that the Bruins may be expecting too much of themselves this early in the season, especially after the success of last year’s team.
“We’ve gone through it before as a team where we’ve almost tried too hard to be perfect and you expect yourself to be perfect at this time of year. It just doesn’t work that way,” Ferrence said. “You have to build up your game again. Obviously, we have a foundation to work from. But everything’s not going to be as crisp as it was halfway through the year and you can’t get frustrated when things aren’t at the standard that we had during the playoffs. You have to build up to that. I think we have to work through some frustrations with that.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On if teams are playing the Bruins tougher this year: “They’ve been tough games, for sure. ‘¦ It’s definitely tough. Every opponent is going to get up for you. You know, I think that we had a standard as a pretty good team in the league for the last three years. Teams would get up for the Boston game anyways because of our success over the last few years. But you definitely expect a bump. I know how I would play against the defending champs in past years.”
On if bringing the Stanley Cup to Gillette was overkill now that the season has started: “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. It’s a real positive thing that the Patriots were going to do for us. ‘¦ It’s the last thing with the Cup, for sure, but there’ll be plenty more team get-togethers and we’ll have a good time, because that’s what we do. It helps build the team up. ‘¦ You turn the page on the Cup, but you don’t forget about it.”
On how road trips are good for team bonding: “It’s nice, especially for a couple of the new guys we have on the team just to get them more involved with everybody. Those are the guys that I feel bad for during the start-of-the-season Cup stuff, because it’s just a little awkward.”
On Marchand and Seguin playing well early in the season: “I’m not surprised with how well they’re playing. Definitely I think there were a few guys who talked with them after the season when they were going pretty good there. They’re both really good character guys and have some pretty good drive and unbelievable skills. I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m happy that they took care of themselves for the majority of the summer and got ready. As soon as I saw Seguin when he came to training camp, I knew we were in for a good year from him. He was absolutely ripped. He was a kid last year and he bulked up, he looked more like a man, so we’re in for good things from him, so that was great. And Marchand’s got a killer attitude, as you can tell, he plays on the edge. He’s not going to give up on anything.”
|Bruins can go on road and focus on wins rather than ceremonies now||10.11.11 at 10:37 pm ET|
For all that’s been said about the “Stanley Cup hangover,” it’s hard to imagine it being any easier with the team parading the trophy around every chance it gets. That isn’t a criticism, but a mere stating of facts. It’s the most coveted trophy in sports, and when a team gets it, that team has every right to have as many celebrations and put it on display as it wants. The Bruins earned it.
But it’s three games into the season, and the Bruins have as many Gillette Stadium appearances as they do victories. After opening the season with three games at home (1-2-0) the Bruins are finally on the road as they get set to play the Hurricanes Wednesday and the Blackhawks Saturday. The Bruins have no problem with all the hoopla they’ve experienced at home, but now it’s time to win hockey games.
“It will be nice to get away for a bit and just kind of be by ourselves. We can get back to being a team, working on our chemistry a bit and get away from trying to put a show on for all our fans and all the Cup ceremonies and whatnot,” forward Brad Marchand said Tuesday. “Hopefully we’ll just be able to go away, get back to focusing on playing hockey and hopefully get a couple wins.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who started the last two season with teams playng in the Premier Games in Europe, admitted Tuesday that the open to this season has been unlike any he’d experience before given all of the celebrations and ceremonies. Those are in the past now, which he and his teammates should embrace.
“The whole celebration with the first game, and the second game we got introduced again, that’s a little different,” Seidenberg said. “I guess it’s nice, but you just want to play your game and focus on the task at hand. That’s what we can do now.”
While information is awaited on the status of David Krejci (who did not get on the plane to Carolina but could possibly join the team Wednesday), it’s hard to tell what the Bruins’ first line will look like Wednesday against the Hurricanes. At this point, the Bruins feel that injury is the only thing that will cause them to break up the trip if Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton at this point.
Krejci, Lucic and Horton went onto the ice early Tuesday, beginning their day 20 minutes before their teammates as a way to “get the frustration out and get back to playing how we know we can play,” according to Lucic. They stayed out in their first-line white sweaters for Tuesday’s skate until Krejci left with an undisclosed injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Through three games, the line has only one goal, a Krejci tally, and all three members of the line have a team-worst minus-2 rating. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but the left wing feels that shaking things up three games into the season would be premature.
“Obviously, it keeps dragging on, changes have to be made,” Lucic said, “but right now, I think we just have [bring the right mindset] to the game and things will take care of themselves.”
The worst of the three has been Nathan Horton, who aside from penalties in each of the first two games and a 2-on-1 with Lucic in Monday’s loss to the Avalanche has been invisible thus far. He has just one shot on goal and has yet to register a hit.
“Personally, I feel like we haven’t found him enough and passed him the puck in areas where he’s most dangerous,” Lucic said of Horton. “As a linemate, that’s what I and our centerman need to do for him and give him more opportunities where he can be more dangerous.”
What doesn’t help from a pressure standpoint is the fact that this is the same line that, aside from struggles from an injured Lucic, had big success in the playoffs. Horton was arguably the team’s most clutch player, with three game-winning goals, two of which came in Game 7s. Krejci led all players in postseason goals and points.
“Sometimes when you’re just thinking about producing and scoring, that’s when it becomes the hardest. Maybe we just need to focus on something else and the rest will take care of itself.”
With the top trio struggling, the team’s second line of Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley has been the team’s best line. Marchand is tied with Tyler Seguin for the team lead with three points, while Peverley’s two goals lead the defending champs. The success of the second line and the struggles of the first line have led to some speculation that switching up the lines could be an option, but Marchand has no interest in hearing any of that.
“I think people are overreacting right now,” Marchand said frankly on Tuesday. “It’s three games into the season. It was a short but long summer, very busy and very busy times right now. I think people have to settle down and realize that it’s only three games into the year. It’s not that big of a deal. Guys are still getting back into things. They’re three of the top guys into league. They’re going to bounce back. We’re not worrying about it, so they’ll be fine.”
|Inside the Locker Room: Opening Night||10.07.11 at 12:14 am ET|