Bruins

Marchand and Subban step into the ring

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Marchand and Subban step into the ring

BOSTON -- It was bound to happen sooner or later between the nose that knows, and the demonstrative defenseman that needs to act like he's been there before.The newest chapter in the BruinsCanadiens rivalry opened up Thursday nightwith Brad Marchand and P.K. Subban finally dropping the gloves multiple times, and finally engaging in an honest-to-goodness fight to end it all.

The duo has been involved in plenty of chippy play overthe last season plus, but that finally bubbled over into theextended dropped gloves session with the decision going to the smaller, scrappier Marchand. It also acted as the most exciting point in the B's 2-1 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.
It started with Marchand jumping on Subban for a few choice shots that sent each player off with matching holding penalties in the second period. Then both players went at each other coming out of the boxbefore they were separated by the refs and slapped with delay-of-game penalties. Both tone-settersthen finally got down to business by dropping their gloves, elbow pads, helmets and any other piece of hockey armor in a full hockey yard sale -- not to be confused with its skiing cousin -- before engaging in some old-fashioned hockey fisticuffs.

Both sides have been waiting for the antagonists to finally drop the gloves since Subban smoked the Bs winger with a bone-rattling body check at the Bell Centre early last season, and it all went downin a Boston defeat that sank the B's into last place. Give Marchand credit for attempting to spark his team with some emotion, but the Bruins once again eventually flatlined.

Stuff happens in a game. Emotions ran a little high, admitted Marchand, who said the fight escalated from a conversation prior to a face-off. I think it all started off the draw. He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and then I grabbed him and he grabbed me.

I thought he wanted to go then so I dropped my gloves. But when we were in the box he asked me to go and I said no. And then back in the second time he asked me again, and I couldnt say no. So it was nice to get it out of the way.

The bout included a series of wild, off-target Subban haymakers that Marchand was able to avoid, and a few short right-handed jabs from the Honey Badger that scored points with the suddenly frenzied crowd. Unfortunately the Bruins couldnt ride the momentum for long enough, and Raphael Diaz smothered a seemingly sure Patrice Bergeron goal into an empty netin the second that followed Marchands bout.

The MarchandSubban bout the second career fight for the Bs trouble-maker after a bout against Andrew Coglianothe Oilers in Edmonton last season probably would have been looked as more of an emotional starter had the Bruins won the game. But it did expose Subban as a hockey fighter thats going to get his clock cleaned pretty badly if he ever scraps with somebody that knows what theyre doing.It was Subban's fifth career fight at the NHL level, but he appeared like he might need to go back to the drawing board given the checks that his wordsand haughty actions can sometimes write on the ice.

Im not a very good fighter, so, I guess you could say I was going for the knockout, but it was a pretty bad attempt, said Subban, who said after the win that he would consult the video with Georges Laraque and Travis Moen to improve his fighting technique. So I dont know, Im probably better to keep my gloves on most of the time.

I know Marchand pretty well and its just a matter of us both being frustrated out there and thats how you settle your differences. I mean, we were kind of laughing about it after, we gave each other a pat on the pads, I dont think theres any true animosity between us two.

Who knows when the next bout will come for the flamboyant Subban, but its more than likely not the last time the Habs defenseman will be dropping the gloves against a Bruins team unafraid to show their dislike for him and his in-your-face game.Marchand and Subban Part II coming to a rink near you this winter and beyond.

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.