Marchand not sweating added pressure after MVP-level year


Marchand not sweating added pressure after MVP-level year

BRIGHTON, Mass – It might be getting difficult for Brad Marchand to top himself with each passing season.

Last year the Bruins left winger and resident agitator led the B’s with 39 goals and 85 points in 80 games for the Bruins, and finished seventh in the Hart Trophy voting while getting MVP consideration for the first time in his career. He was the first point-per-game player for the Bruins since the heyday of Marc Savard in Boston and took another step toward becoming more iconic, respected player than the guy opposing fans are most likely to hate.


He still has some of the latter in his arsenal, of course, but Marchand knows he’s a guy that’s become somebody the rest of the team banks on for offense, production and making things happen in the big moments. There’s a pressure that comes along with that kind of expectation, but it’s something he’s ready to take on without any associated burdens on his shoulders.

“I think [opposing defenses] should just be following Pasta and Bergy around, but it’s fine if they want to cover me. They can just do their thing,” said Marchand, who has spent the first three days of training skate with Bergeron and rookie Anders Bjork in a trio that’s looked very comfortable together. “When you’re fortunate to have a year like [last season] there are definitely higher expectations. But I’m not going to put that on myself. It’s more about being prepared for every game and following Bergeron around and let him hit me when I go backdoor. We’re all just going to work hard, and hope it just works well for everyone.

“It’s just one of those things where everything came together, and I had a little bit more power play time. If you were to add all those power play points in other years it would be similar, so I really don’t think much changed aside from special teams’ time. Things just went well. I don’t expect that to happen every year, but it would be great if it did. I know my role is to go out, work hard and try to make things happen, so hopefully that’s how it goes.”

All polite, Canadian modesty aside, however, No. 63 has to know this Bruins team is relying on him more than ever after posting career-highs in all the major offensive categories. Perhaps there will be a little more point-production support from his center with Bergeron entering the season 100 percent healthy following offseason surgery for a sports hernia, and that will take some of the attention away from being directed at him.

But Marchand knows he won’t be sneaking up on anyone anymore after scoring 76 goals over the last two seasons, more than any player in the NHL aside from some guys named Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. 


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.