Bruins

Bruins find a line that really works

191545.jpg

Bruins find a line that really works

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

The Brad Marchand pairing with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron first arrived to the Bruinsout of injuries and necessity.But Claude Julien made clear what everybody else seems to alreadyknow following the Bs 6-2 landslide over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Saturday afternoon: that particularlinecombinationwill probably be staying together for a good long stretch.

The MarchandRecchiBergeron line gets that kind of consideration after accounting for four goals in the win, and proving once again that they can both A) shut down the other teams line with suffocating defense and B) attack the sometimes suspect defensive bent of those offensive lines and make them pay with puck impunity.

The trio also piled up 15 of Bostons 40 shots in the victory, and certainly deserved a big helping of the credit pie for the Bs win. That's the kind of solid hustle and heady play that can make a hockey coach look like a genius.

Were getting a lot out of those guys, said Julien in the understatement of the year. Were pairing them up against top lines and theyre doing a good job. Theyre producing at the other end and theyve been very reliable. I really like that line.

Thats why weve kind of kept them together. We know Marchand was a big part of that line with Gregory Campbell and ShawnThornton, but weve been able to find some guys that have gone in and made them a good line. We like what Marchand has brought to Bergeron and Recchi, and we dont plan on breaking that one up anytime soon.

Offensive production iswhat happened early and often against an Avalanche team experiencingsome serious defensive difficulties.It was fitting Marchand and Co. got things movingin the first period after a fitful first few minutes. After the Bruins had struggled through the first three minutes and found themselves down 1-0, a Gregory Campbell fight changed the momentum of the game and Marchands 11th goal of the season allowed the Black and Gold to keep it there.

Recchi had the puck as he edged toward the corner and flipped a pass right atthe net as he saw Marchand storming toward the cage -- a trait that makes Marchand both a pest and a viable offensive force. The puck bounced off a Colorado body in front, and the alert Marchand popped it past Craig Anderson to tie the game.That was just the beginning for all three forwards on a day that made their combination look all the more like a No. 1 NHL line.

Marchand and Recchi were at it again in the second, and this time it was Marchand setting things up with some playmaking ability: the kind of head-turning skill that someof his teammates sheepishly admit theydidnt know existed before he got his game going this season.

Marchand skated up the left wing looking shot the entire time, and drew the defense and goaltender toward him before slipping a pass to Recchi all alone for the 573rd goal of Recchi's Hall fo Fame career a strike that ties him with Mike Bossy for 19th on the NHL all-time list.

Its the kind of elite hockey playfrom Marchand that continues to surprise Recchi, though it probably wont after this weekend. Its really not a coincidence that every line Marchand joins up with seems to take off from an energy and offensive production standpoint, and people are beginning to put together that a great deal of the credit belongs to a player many thought was a simple pest as he was breaking into the league.

I've got to be honest with you. I didnt know that he had it in him what hes shown us, and Im glad that I was wrong, said Recchi. I knew he was skilled and he worked, but hes earned every bit of it and he deserves it. Honestly I havent been wrong on too many guys, but I was wrong on him thinking he couldnt take that next step and become an elite player.

Hes on that path. Hes a great kid. We always like that work ethic and energy, but hes confident and hes really let those skills take over. Now he knows that he can be a very good player in this league and Bergie and I really enjoy playing with him quite a bit.

Bergeron was solid and steady throughout the game as he always is. The B's leading scorer threw out a little bit ofspectacular in the third period on a goal that showed exactly what the Bs Assistant Captain is all about.The pivotdropped to his knees after being knocked off balance with the puck, but he still somehow shoveled a backhanded passshot from his knees that ticked off the skate of John-Michael Liles and added to Bostons goal total.Not surprisingly Marchand was crashing the net and would have had another goal on the play if Bergeron didn't get a little puck luck on his 16th goal of the season. That three-point afternoon keeps him on pace for 27 goals and 67 points this season -- the kind of numbers that put him right in line with the Bergeron of pre-concussion days.

The game was already in hand at that point of the third period, but that play perfectly depicted Bergerons indefatigable desire and compete level no matter what the score a trait thats transformed Bergeron backinto Bostons best all-around player over the last two months at a time when his team desperately needed him.

Marchand is strong on the puck. Bergeron is strong on the puck. Im just feeding off of it, said Recchi. Right from day one that Marchand was put in there with us weve really felt great together. Were all on the same page. We all like to fore-check and get energy that way. We all like to cycle the puck. Hopefully we can keep this up.

Before the season began, it was expected to be hotshot rookie Tyler Seguin on the wing paired with Bergeron and Recchi in a brilliantoffensive grouping filled with potential but instead Marchand has become that hotshot rookie thats helped spur his other fellow forwards on to bigger, better and scrappierthings this season.

Get used to saying the names ofBergeron, Marchand and Recchi together for all things Bruins it doesnt look like theyll be playing anywhere elsegoing forward with much good reason.

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

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

florida-panthers-jaromir-jagr.jpg

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.

 

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

boston-bruins-anton-khudobin-torey-krug-sabres-haggs-column-102217.jpg

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

BOSTON – It feels like the Bruins might finally be hitting their critical mass with all of the injuries in the first few weeks of the season.

The B’s were down Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Krejci as the new injuries Saturday night and clearly missed those players, along with the others currently out with injuries in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The Bruins had a three-goal lead in the second period and a two-goal lead in the third but frittered away both while allowing the hapless Sabres to outshoot them 21-6 in the third and overtime.

MORE BRUINS

Anton Khudobin battled his rebound control for most of the game while facing 42 shots on net but it was the absence of Miller and McQuaid in the D-zone that made it a little too easy for Buffalo to push Boston when it mattered late.

Torey Krug was on the ice for the last three of Buffalo’s goals and was out penalty killing late in the third period in a spot where he would never have been in if the B’s were healthy on the back end.

“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world. They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done. And that’s why they are paid to get it done,” said Bruce Cassidy. “So yes, we miss them. But, last week we missed other players. So the guys that are out there, it’s up to them to get it done, right?

“It didn’t happen tonight, and hopefully we learned from it and can be hungrier the next time. There’s not much else to analyze that. That was it. Someone had to play in that situation. We pick guys who we figure would get the job done, and it didn’t work out for us. Next time, we’ll keep working at it.”

As part of the injury factor, there are also players that are banged-up and back in who are also clearly not back to full strength. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are both back from their early-season issues and Krug continues to play with a healing fractured jaw, but all three key players combined for just a single assist and three shots on net in a game that featured nine goals.

Krug was the most noticeable weak link in the loss as he was overwhelmed in the D-zone on the game-tying goal when an Evander Kane shot bounced on him on its way into the goal. Krug was down on his stomach after losing his balance while battling in front of the net. Krug then was out for an extended period in OT before bumping a Sabres player around the crease who fell into Khudobin just as Ryan O’Reilly was pushing the game-winning goal past him.

Krug spoke on Saturday morning about feeling like things were starting to come together for him but he finished a minus-3 against the Sabres with his big, bad teammates out with injuries. He's a startling minus-8 after the first two weeks of the season.

“Obviously we have to do a better job tonight. Two-goal lead in your own building, it’s got to be the hardest place for the opposing team to come in and overcome that. We’ve got to be better,” said Krug. “I thought I had an opportunity to win a battle in the corner on that loose puck. Just trying to swat away and all of a sudden it comes out the other side, and we just couldn’t overcome. That’s survival mode. “Especially when they were able to make changes like they were. We just got to stay calm, composed, and make sure we’re not getting beat one-on-one. We obviously managed it for a while, but we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

It was also clearly about Khudobin, who had a big chance to put the Bruins team on his back with Rask out with a concussion. The Russian netminder made 37 saves and at times looked energetic and ready to battle between the pipes but at other times couldn’t make the clean save that the Bruins needed in order to get a whistle and calm things down. In OT, Khudobin couldn’t make a clean glove save on a Rasmus Ristolainen tester from the high slot that would have allowed the Bruins to get some tired players off the ice in the 3-on-3 OT.

Instead, Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were out on the ice for 2 minutes, 15 seconds and eventually got beaten on O’Reilly’s play that took the puck straight to the Boston net. Cassidy called it an “erratic” night for Khudobin when they needed calmer, more poised play from their goaltender and that was clearly a reflection of the Black and Gold missing Rask.

“[Khudobin] was erratic. He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. [He] certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him,” said Cassidy. “But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out [on plays] that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.

“[There were instances] in the third period, plus overtime, where we needed to calm the game down. Whether it’s a face-off, even right before the overtime goal, we had opportunities to get possession out of that pile. They came out with it. And that’s what I said. They were hungrier than us. Late, they won more pucks. If we win that puck out of that pile, we might not be talking about losing. Maybe we get out of trouble and it goes our way. We’ll never know.”

Maybe things would have gone the Bruins way if they had more of their walking wounded back and contributing. Instead, it feels as if the B’s are being tested with new, damaging injuries with each passing day. A number of those had a direct impact on a brutal loss to the Sabres on Saturday night. One has to wonder if there are more of those coming until the Bruins can start stabilizing their medical situation.