Bruins

All eyes on Marchand as second season begins

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All eyes on Marchand as second season begins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com BruinsInsider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Its natural to wonder just how far Brad Marchand will stepover the line this season.

The 23-year-old madehimself an NHL household name with his performance in the Stanley CupFinals, and cemented his preferred playing style by using the Sedins asa personal punching bags in front of a nationalaudience.

The imageof Marchand jabbing at a submissive Sedin will live on forever, andeven popped up Monday as B-roll footage while sports pundits chimed inon the 31st birthdays for both Henrik andDaniel.

The Bruins' resident agitator scored 21goals in his rookie season and settled for a playoff hero position justbelow Tim Thomas and Dennis Seidenberg on the Stanley Cup ladder, buthes first recognized for his antagonizing ways. Marchand wouldnt haveit any other way, given thats the trouble-making path he carved whilemaking it to the NHL, but he also knows people will be watching him alittle more actively this season.

Marchandsubscribes to the any press is good press theory to most everythingin his NHL career, but even that has itslimits.

You dont want to go over the line, andwhen you do there are consequences from teammates, coaches or themedia, said Marchand. Any time you score a goal you cant help butget excited, and thats just the way it is. Some guys do a little morethan others, and some guys are relaxed.

Theresenough personality in the league now with guys doing stuff, but therecould always be more, added Marchand.

Marchand haswitnessed the criticism that young players like P.K. Subban weather astheir animated goal celebrations get broken down by the fun police, andits always bothered the 5-foot-8 winger. Sometimes it goes over thetop as it did when Marchand gave a golf swing to the Toronto MapleLeafs at the end of last season to signify that their golfing seasonhad begun early.

There is definitely a fine line,but the older you get and the more mature you get definitely keeps youwalking that line.

But Marchand has credited coachClaude Julien with helping to teach him the right way to execute achallenging job being made more difficult by NHK VP of Players SafetyBrendan Shanahan. Marchand was benched against the Islanders midwaythrough last season among other instances of tough love, and those arethe kind of instances Julien is hoping to see less of movingforward.

I dont want to change what I did to gethere, said Marchand. You might want to fine-tune it a bit, but guysfor the most part need to stick with what got them to the NHL.

"They need to be that player. If I change up toomuch then Im not going to be as good player. At the same you alsodont want to be that guy that goes over the line, and then makes afool out your teammates or takespenalties.

Marchand is in the business of makingopponents feel like the fools rather than teammates, and its part ofwhat made him so successful last season during the playoff run.

Its going to be difficult for Marchand to repeatlast years breakthrough campaign, considering the attention andexpectations that will be present following Bostons run to the Cup.The referees will be watching and he wont be sneaking up on anybody,but things will be okay for Marchand as long as hes making a fool outof opponents rather than out of himself.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.

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In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.

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Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE