Haggerty: Marchand, Bergeron breakout was necessary for B's offense binge

Haggerty: Marchand, Bergeron breakout was necessary for B's offense binge

BOSTON -- Brad Marchand couldn’t help but throw a little shade at the attention paid to recent offensive struggles for him, and the more pronounced ones for his center Patrice Bergeron. That’s mostly because the Bruins agitator and Bergeron both busted out for second period goals in Boston’s dominant 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, and then expressed dismay that anyone noted their aforementioned goal-scoring slowdown as it was in process.

“We’re not worried. The furthest thing from our minds is if we’re going to score, if we’re going to produce. We know we are,” said Marchand, who went into Saturday night with one goal in his last eight games. “Maybe we were catching a little heat in the media today, so that was for all you guys. But it is nice for [the puck] to go in. It does help build your confidence, and we do need to produce.

“That’s part of our job, and, you know, we know that, but we’re getting opportunities every single game. We could easily have two, three goals every game, our line, so, you know, when the chances stop coming that’s when, you know, we get a little frustrated. But [the chances] are there every game and they’ll continue to be there.”

Marchand’s swagger is always appreciated, of course, and it’s pretty hard to find fault with a player that’s got six goals and 17 points in 18 games along with a plus-8 rating for the season.

But the Bergeron line’s fiery spokesperson would at the very least admit, however, there were far more chances for them on Saturday night than there had been in the recent past after Boston scored a grand total of four goals on their recent three-game road trip. Marchand had five shots on net and seven shot attempts overall, and Bergeron obliterated his six game pointless streak with six shots on net and 10 shot attempts overall.

He also kept on pushing right through when he clanged the crossbar with a point blank chance in the second period, and would have been entirely excused if he thought it was going to be another bad bounce kind of night for him.

“It was the perfect example of what we talked about this morning: you’ve got to stay with it and not get frustrated,” said Bergeron, who did have a whopping 25 shots on net in the six previous games where he’d been held without a point. “Eventually you know it’s going to go in, but I was happy it was tonight, though. It was great to finally get the pucks going in. I thought we were getting the chances, especially lately, and we talked about doing the job for the team and everybody buying in.

“It’s nice for us to get those goals, but at the same time we need to play the same way if things are going to fall into place for us every night.”

Despite all the shots, it took a second period wave of offense for the Black and Gold’s star forwards to finally get on the board. After a Matt Beleskey score in the first couple of minutes in the second period gave Boston the initial lead, it was a combination of heady Zdeno Chara pass and strong individual move from Marchand that really got the engine humming.

Chara fed a stretch pass up to a speeding Marchand with D-man Dustin Byfuglien completely asleep at the wheel, and the Bruins forward drove straight to the net before backhanding a shot past Michael Hutchinson for his sixth goal of the season. Roughly five minutes later Bergeron snapped home a PP one-timer from the left wing circle mere moments after he’d wrung the crossbar, and finally tallied his first power play point of the season in his 15th game of the season.

To put that in perspective, Bergeron had 12 power play goals and 25 PP points last season while serving as the Black and Gold conductor from his “bumper” spot in the slot. So to say he was due on Saturday night would be an understatement, but one could feel that an explosion from No. 63 and No. 37 was imminent with the Jets in town.

“That helps a lot. I think you know I talked about it this morning, sometimes you have to be patient and in their case, when I look at the game afterwards and the results, they had scoring chances, and they haven’t been able to score. It’s not like they aren’t creating anything,” said Claude Julien. “That’s when you have to be patient because you know it’s a matter of time, even before Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] scores his goal, he hits the cross bar.

“So you know he’s a little snake-bitten, but he stuck with it and he finally got that goal. Marshy [Brad Marchand] scored, so a lot of good things happened tonight. I’m hoping it’s going to be a positive sign moving forward here and that’s some of those guys taking a bit of pressure off their shoulders of producing. I like the way they played again tonight, and we got some production spread out a little bit, and that continues to be good for us.”

The bottom line with the Bruins right now: they’ve been pretty good over the first couple months this season, but they’re also 22nd in the NHL in overall offense (2.4 goals per game) and 21st on the power play (13.8 percent success rate) so far this season. The offense has been passable so far, but one of the biggest ways it can get better is if the umpteen chances for Bergeron, Marchand and Co. turn into actual goals as they continue operating the puck possession game to perfection against just about every opponent. 

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.