|Brad Marchand says Tyler Seguin is ‘pressure’ free now, and it shows||03.08.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
Forget the pressure of playing against his hometown Leafs on Thursday. After all, Tyler Seguin has proven that’s not really pressure at all. It’s inspiration.
The true pressure test came early in the season in the form of expectations for the budding superstar of the Bruins.
On Sept. 11, he signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension with the Bruins, when he was still 20 years of age. He then lit it up in Switzerland during the four-month NHL lockout, just to stay sharp. Stay sharp he did with 25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games with Biel.
He started relatively slowly with three goals and seven assists in his first 17 games. But since the calendar turned to March he’s been on fire. He has four goals in two assists in four games in March and has turned the Patrice Bergeron–Brad Marchand line into the most productive on the team.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him coming into the year with his new contract and with how well he did over in Switzerland,” Marchand said after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Leafs in which he had two goals and an assist. “I think he was feeling pressure a bit because a lot of people were saying a lot of things about him, and it seems like right now he’s just very calm and confident, and he’s not really worried about anything else. He’s just focused on playing, and when he does that he’s a great player, and you see it night in and night out right now. He’s making a difference.”
Funny, it’s the assist he got that impressed everyone the most. After Marchand fought for a loose puck near the Toronto bench, he picked it up and made like a missile for the Leafs goal in the final minute of the first period. He was stopped but the rebound was left for Bergeron to tap home for a 1-0 lead.
“When Segs is on his game that’s the kind of things he does,” Marchand marveled. “He takes the puck to the net hard, and he uses speed and skill, and you saw that in the first goal, you saw it in the second goal, and I guess again on the third one. His speed, that’s how he has to play.”
In 14 career games against his hometown Leafs (actually, he grew up in nearby Brampton, Ont.), he has 10 goals and six assists. Any extra bounce for the player who is the reason for the “Thank you, Kessel” chants at TD Garden?
“I’d like to say no,” Seguin said with a smile. “I mean I try to prepare for every game but [Thursday] I thought we did a good job, I think all of our goals our line scored so it was a total line effort whether it was winning battles or making nice passes.
Is there is a little more relief now that these pucks are hitting the back of the net?
“Yeah, you could say that,” Seguin said. “I think every guy in here likes to score and I’m no exception so definitely feels good.
“I think the last couple weeks I’ve just been playing good in my D-Zone and competing a lot more than I think I was in the start of the season. Over in Europe I think I was circling a bit more and didn’t really have to battle, I don’t even know if I got hit over there for the few months I was there but I had to find that game again with me, and I think it’s coming around now.”
The fire everyone always wanted to see from Seguin has been lit. How long will it burn?
“I mean I think it just comes with not producing and just getting more determined and getting back to focusing on the little things more than the big picture or the statistics, I’m starting with that and things are rolling from there,” he said. “I mean it feels good. I think again, like I was saying, as a whole, as a line, I think we’re playing really well, we’re moving the puck well and winning battles and I think with our experience with each other over the last two years those two the last three, it’s really clicking right now.”
Seguin couldn’t help but get a little friendly jab in at Marchand when reminded that he’s scoring all the goals that Marchand was getting from his assists early in the season.
“I just gave it to March [early in the season],” Seguin said. “What else are you going to do, look at the stats?
Well, that’s not a bad place now for No. 19.
NBC’s Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Carl Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded in 2007 only to see him stay in the Swedish Elite League, the possibility of visors being made mandatory for NHL players, and Patrice Bergeron‘s role on the team.
“You look at the plus-minus for Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand last year — a big part of it was because of Patrice Bergeron teaching them to play in their own zone. I’m convinced of that,” McGuire said. “There’s a lot of similarities to what Bergeron does to what Jean Ratelle did in his prime, and he’s a Hall of Famer. Bergeron and Ratelle are so similar. The one thing about Jean was the consistency in his game. Just ask Rod Gilbert about the influence Jean Ratelle had on him on the Goal-A-Game-line down in New York, or you can ask Marchand and Seguin, and I’ve done it, what’s the influence of Bergeron on their game. It’s huge.”
McGuire said he considers Bergeron “one of the top 10 players in the league,” and that his consistency and two-way play likely will lead to a long-term contract extension with the Bruins soon.
“I think [the Bruins] understand the value of players like that in a city like Boston,” McGuire said. “They’re so proactive when it comes to signing players they want to keep. You look at the extension to Seguin, you look at the extension to [Zdeno] Chara. They’re aggressive when it comes to identifying players that are really important to their team and keeping them, so I’ve got to believe at some point they’re going to get aggressive with Bergeron.”
News broke Thursday that Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded Hannu Toivonen in 2007, is in talks with the Bruins about coming to Boston after the Swedish Elite League season ends. McGuire said he sees him as an impact player, likely a third-liner.
“The thing about him that’s so good is he’s rangy — he’s about 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 195 to 200,” McGuire said. “Serious skill level ‘¦ he’s got huge offensive skills, a major breakthrough year for him this year, more mature now than he probably ever was, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be able to play right away in the National Hockey League.”
McGuire said Soderberg’s transition to the NHL could be comparable to that of Damien Brunner, who came over from Switzerland to put up 10 goals and eight assists so far in his rookie season with Detroit.
|Patrice Bergeron line stays hot for Bruins||at 1:07 am ET|
David Krejci‘s goal proved to be the game-winner, but it was the exception in Thursday’s 4-2 Bruins victory over Toronto: the only Boston goal that didn’t involve Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand.
Seguin picked up two goals and an assist, Bergeron a goal and two assists, and Marchand two assists. If Marchand had touched the puck before Bergeron on the game’s final goal, an empty-netter by Seguin, all three would have had a hand in three different goals on the night.
Success is nothing unusual for that line, which features three of the Bruins’ top four scorers. But with Seguin picking up his scoring pace after a slow start and Marchand beginning to rack up assists as well as goals, they’re proving they can combine to put the puck in the net in any number of ways.
Marchand had one assist through his first 12 games and now has seven in his last eight. He attributed that shift, jokingly, to Seguin’s newly rediscovered goal-scoring ability.
“Well, it’s nice to see [Seguin] start finishing,” Marchand said, sarcastically complaining. “It was getting a little frustrating there early on. It’s nice for him to finally get a couple and get his confidence up with the [empty-netter].
“That stuff happens,” he continued in a serious tone. “Goals come in bunches, assists come in bunches and there will be a bunch of games where you don’t get anything. It’s just how it goes.”
Seguin did find the empty net with 15 seconds left in the game, but he also found a hole on Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens in the second period for his sixth goal of the year. Marchand chipped the puck past Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf to Seguin, and Seguin fired it over Scrivens’ outstretched leg pad to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
‘I saw [Seguin] all alone, and I guess no one is really threatened by him right now because he’s not scoring, so it’s just nice to see him finish,’ Marchand joked.
The Bruins’ first goal made use of all three players’ skills: Marchand dug out the puck along the boards to send Seguin on a breakaway from the blue line, and Bergeron followed through to knock the rebound past Scrivens.
Marchand said that kind of hard work and positioning, as well as his play in the defensive zone, are what set Bergeron apart as an elite player.
‘When I came here, Bergy was a guy that I always found myself watching because he always prides himself on getting better,’ Marchand said. ‘He always wants to learn and improve his game.’
The trio received the game’s three stars — Marchand third, Seguin second and Bergeron first — allowing them to be recognized, fittingly, as a unit.
‘We have a lot of fun out there, and it seems like we’re continuing to build and find each other a little bit more each game,’ Marchand said. ‘We work pretty hard on and off the ice to talk to each other and figure things out, and it’s a lot of fun playing with those guys.’
|Patrice Bergeron named No. 2 Star of Week||03.04.13 at 12:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was named the NHL’s No. 2 Star of the Week ending on March 3, the league announced Monday.
Bergeron had points in all four games he played, registering two goals and five assists over the span. The reigning Selke winner also had a plus-6 rating. On the season, Bergeron leads the Bruins in both assists (13) and points (18) and is tied with linemate Tyler Seguin with a plus-15 rating.
The first star of the week was Max Pacioretty (four goals, three assists), with Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom getting third star honors.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins trying not to get discouraged by power play||02.11.13 at 6:07 pm ET|
The power play has been so much of a challenge for the Bruins this season that it wasn’t much of a surprise to see them struggle to put the puck in the net when working on the man advantage in Monday’s practice.
Making the power play work has long been an issue for assistant coach Geoff Ward and the Bruins, but for the past three seasons they have been able to win without one.
On the season, the Bruins are 4-for-39 on the man advantage, with one of the goals coming in the form of a Tyler Seguin empty-netter against the Hurricanes. They are 1-for-18 on the power play over their last five games, but those ugly numbers have been accompanied by a pretty record. With the 4-for-39 mark comes an Eastern Conference-best 8-1-1 record, and with the 1-for-18 clip comes a 4-1-0 record.
The Bruins have managed to be able to be the best team in the Eastern Conferece (they trail the Devils by two points for the top spot, but they’ve played 10 games to New Jersey’s 12) despite not manufacturing power play goals. Recent history shows that you technically don’t need a great power play in order to win the Stanley Cup ‘ the B’s were a respectable 5-for-27 against the Canucks in 2011, but they were 0-for-21 against the Habs in the first round, 2-for-16 against the Flyers and 3-for-24 against the Lightning. That made for an underwhelming 11.4 power play percentage for the postseason, which ranked 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs.
Last season, the Kings followed the Bruins’ lead, putting up a 12.8 clip on the power play but winning the Cup and losing just four games all postseason.
Still, while there’s strong evidence that you can win a lot of games without a good power play, there’s no denying any team would be better if it would take advantage of other teams’ infractions. The Bruins finally did that on Sunday to break an 0-for-17 stretch when Patrice Bergeron got to a puck in front that had bounced off the end boards on a shot from Chris Bourque and sent it past Ryan Miller. Not only was the goal the game-winner in the team’s 3-1 win over Buffalo, it provided a bit of relief in a rather stressful area.
Prior to that goal, the B’s were 0-for-4 in the game. The power play actually proved disruptive to a strong 5-on-5 game the B’s had been playing. The second unit, which now features Bourque at the point with Zdeno Chara, with Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley up front, saw to it that the team wouldn’t have its fifth straight game without a power play goal.
‘We’ve got to work on it,’ Bergeron said Monday. ‘We’ve got to make sure we get better. If you get discouraged, we’re obviously not going to improve. That’s the whole point, is to do the job and create some momentum and obviously score some goals.’
With Seguin getting Monday off for maintenance, the B’s moved David Krejci up and put Dennis Seidenberg on the point with Dougie Hamilton on the point on the first configuration. That likely won’t stick, but with the way the B’s have struggled on the power play as a whole, perhaps shuffling more personnel could be in the cards. The B’s have found a way to win without clicking on the man advantage, but if they ever could they would be even scarier.
|Shawn Thornton out 7-10 days with concussion||02.01.13 at 11:46 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Shawn Thornton will miss the next 7-10 days with a concussion, the Bruins announced Friday. Thornton suffered the injury in a first-period fight with Sabres enforcer John Scott on Thursday night, with Thornton leaving the game and not returning.
With Thornton out, Lane MacDermid could see more time for the B’s in the coming days. The 23-year-old had seven fights this season for Providence and played his first NHL game of the season on Thursday.
Thornton wasn’t the only absence from Friday’s practice, as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Daniel Paille also missed the skate. Paille and Bergeron were banged up in the third period of Thursday’s loss to the Sabres, though Krejci did not appear to suffer an injury in the game.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers||01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.
As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.
“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”
It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.
“I don’t think [they’ll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”
The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.
“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”
The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.
“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”