Bruins

Marchand: No. 1 star speaks volumes about Bruins

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Marchand: No. 1 star speaks volumes about Bruins

BEDFORD, MA. Brad Marchand has become pretty good at deflecting the accolades that have been coming his way more and more frequently as of late.

He took the act like youve been there route even after receiving No. 1 Star of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He earned the award ahead of the Rangers' Marian Gaborik and the Avs' Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

The Bs right winger knows hes come a long way from the unproven fourth-line grinder that opened last season with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell on the Merlot Line. This year he has parlayed increased ice time and elite linemates into some prodigious offensive production. Marchand leads the Bs with 15 goals and is second with 29 points, proving that last years 20-goal season wasnt anything approaching a fluke.

Playing with Bergeron and Seguin is probably a little different than playing with me and Soup, said Thornton. Hes never really lacked confidence, so you cant say that about him. Hes always had the potential to do it and I think pucks are going in for him right now.

But Marchand plays hard and does all of the things right. Were talking about him because he had a five-point night, but hes been doing everything right for the last couple of years anyway.

Marchand's dominant performances -- a game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens and the hat trick against the shell-shocked Panthers -- made Marchand a No. 1 no-brainer for the NHL.

It speaks volumes about what the team is doing right now, and its a nice accomplishment, said a modest Marchand. Once you get to this level you realize how much it takes to get here and stay here. There are new guys coming into this league all the time trying to fight for spots and take yours.

With a team like ours everybody battles and wants to get better while pushing ourselves to the limit. Being on this team has made me want to be a better player.

Marchand is on pace for 37 goals and 70 points this season, and those are lofty statistics. But his ability to thrive and finish off plays with his shot and good skating speed have allowed him to keep pace with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, and theyve become arguably the best two-way forward line in the NHL this season.

Theres a reason Seguin and Marchand are ranked 1-2 in the NHLs plusminus department, and its the marriage of goal-scoring skill with diligent attention to detail in all zones.

Bergeron is also on pace for a 70-point season. It would be the first of his career since before his concussion at the beginning of the 2007-08. Seguin is trending toward 35 goals and 80 points as a 19-year-old phenom. There may be a few more No. 1 Stars in the trios future as long as they continue whats been an electric first three months together.

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

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Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

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Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.