Marchand proud of "character showed" after dominant performance

Marchand proud of "character showed" after dominant performance

COLUMBUS -- With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup with injury, it might have been a pretty easy time for the Bruins to pack it in once they fell down by a couple of goals. If it was last season during one of the more interminably hopeless stretches of hockey for the Black and Gold, then that might have absolutely happened.

Instead Brad Marchand stepped up with his partner-in-crime missing from the ice, and led the Bruins to a 6-3 comeback win where he posted five points for just the second time in a career that’s taken off over the last couple of seasons. Marchand wasn’t a one-man band, however, as he gelled with new linemate David Pastrnak on the right wing, and both talented wingers quickly forged chemistry with the big, strong and energetic David Backes stepping into the middle for the injured Bergeron.

The three combined for all six goals scored, 12 points and a plus-16 rating in a dominant final 40 minutes of Thursday night’s season opener, but it was Marchand that served as the spark plug catalyst after doing it so many times for the Black and Gold last season. It was Marchand, of course, that stole the puck from Zach Werenski behind the Columbus net, and then fed to a waiting Pastrnak as he pounced on the scoring chance for Boston’s first goal.

Once things started to settle in for the Black and Gold, Marchand kept creating scoring chances with his energy, skating speed and unwillingness to back off while Backes and Pastrnak kept the blistering offensive pace with him. It might start as an obvious choice because of the Bergeron injury, but it worked just like it had been in the planning for years.

In fact, Marchand smiled when asked if it might be tough squeezing Bergeron back onto his line after enjoying big success with Backes, and he jokingly said he wants the “four forwards and one defenseman” formation to become legal upon No. 37’s return.

“He’s played against the best hockey players in the world, and he did it while there [at the World Cup] so there’s no doubt he gained some confidence in that,” said Claude Julien. “But I really like the way he respects the game. It means he’s making the smart plays at the right time. He’s not making some bad plays and turning pucks over, and we’ve seen evidence of that before too.

“I think there’s a huge respect for the game in those areas, and it’s made a big difference for him as far as having success, and bringing us to the next level.”

For his part, Marchand was simply happy to open the season with a rousing, comeback win after the Bruins faltered in each of their first three games to start the season. He’s clearly playing at a higher level than most of the league after operating at a playoff-level for Team Canada two weeks ago, that should be a scary proposition for the rest of the NHL.

On Thursday night Marchand was also playing the role of team leader for a fairly young group with No. 37 out of the lineup, and wanted to make certain that he was spreading the credit out for the first big win to kick-start the season.

“I think the big thing that’s a takeaway from tonight is the character that we showed,” said Marchand. “It’s a lot of fun when you come back from a two-goal deficit, especially with a lot of new faces and young guys. It speaks a lot about our team. When you get down you want to push harder, everybody wants to push harder and I think about that happened.

“I think everybody knew that they had to step up a bit for sure. Anytime you have injuries it affects your lineup, but the guys did a great job. [Pastrnak] had a great game. Not only with a couple of goals and an assist, but he was playing smart. He was chipping pucks in and chipping pucks out, and he got rewarded playing in the last minute. That’s what we need out of everyone. We need young guys that are playing the right way, and step up and have good games. That’s how you win.”

One would think that Marchand wouldn’t have much to prove anymore after notching 37 goals and topping 60 points last season for the first time in his career, but he said that it’s exactly the opposite effect.

With key players missing from the lineup and new faces on the B’s roster, Marchand said everybody is trying to make good impressions with the group, and concentrating on putting their best foot forward as team chemistry builds.

But not everybody kicked it up a notch just like Marchand impressively did in the last two periods of Thursday night’s comeback while refusing to lose vs. the Blue Jackets, and perhaps that at least eased some of the pressure on this team in this first handful of NHL games.

Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

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Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while the Bruins are finally back in Boston.  

*Larry Brooks says that the NHL playoff system is broken as it continues to “pass off mediocrity as parity.” I don’t really agree that there’s a big problem, but it will be too bad that one of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams (Boston and Tampa Bay) will be done after the second round of the playoffs.

*A pretty cool gesture from the Montreal Canadiens as a group of them wore turtlenecks during warm-ups on Saturday night prior to playing Tomas Plekanec for the first timer as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Congrats to the Team USA Paralympics squad for capturing another Gold Medal for the Red, White and Blue. What a great story they are.   

*Evander Kane opens up about Winnipeg, his past on social media and hockey culture as he seems to have found a place where he’s comfortable in San Jose.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are suspending their GM search until the group of available candidates can widen in the offseason. That was probably always for the best.

*The New York Islanders are getting a little weird with things here late in the season as they’re taking a look at John Tavares on the wing. Hmmm. Seems like an odd move.

*For something completely different: A great return for Bill Hader to Saturday Night Live where he revisited a number of his best characters.


Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

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Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

TAMPA – David Backes certainly didn’t escape the scary situation with an errant skate blade unscathed, of course. 

The 33-year-old limped his way to the Bruins team bus out of Amalie Arena after Boston’s 3-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and needed approximately 18 stitches to close up the gash on his right thigh. But Backes was still able to joke about it as he exited the dressing room while knowing that it could have been much, much worse with that kind of freak accident on the ice. 

"I'll play a second period one of these days,” said a smiling Backes, who was forced out of Saturday night’s loss with the skate blade cut in the last minute of the first period and exited the Florida loss as well after catching a match penalty in the first period as well. Luckily for him, there was no structural damage to Backes’ right leg after Yanni Gourde caught him in the thigh area as both players were down on the ice around the Tampa net.

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There was a lot of blood, however, as he quickly exited the ice, sped past the bench and headed right to the Bruins dressing room with Bruins trainer Donnie DelNegro trailing right behind. 

“I went in and saw him between periods. He’s okay. There’s no structural damage. There will be concern going forward about swelling or infection, but it looks like he’ll be okay. We’ll classify him as day-to-day, but I don’t know if he’ll be ready to play on Monday,” said Bruce Cassidy of Backes, who actually scored the second goal of the game for the Bruins as a power play strike. “You see a guy coming off like that and you see the blood pooling up, and you’re always worried they could hit an artery somewhere. He was able to get up. That was the first good sign and he was able to be tended to quickly. 

“It is scary. But we were told it would be a deep cut that would require some stitches, and it wasn’t too dangerous.”

For now it just becomes an eventful month for Backes where he’s been suspended, tossed out of a game with a match penalty and now forced out of a game after a freak skate blade incident, but there’s no doubt he’ll return better and stronger than ever in rapid fashion as he’s done through the last two seasons with the Bruins.