Bruins

Marchand sick of diving, pot-stirring Habs

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Marchand sick of diving, pot-stirring Habs

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

MONTREAL While its clear the Canadiens would be better served avoiding the kind of fight night fisticuffs that characterizedtheir last meeting in Boston, the Bruins dont appear ready to budge an inch.If it comes down to fighting again and preventing the Montreal skaters from stirring the pot, as Claude Julien accused them of afterMonday's practice, then Brad Marchand is one of the Boston players ready to strike back.Theoutspoken rookiewas a target earlier this season when he was completely obliterated by a clean P.K. Subban body check near the Bell Centreblueline that perfectly signified Montreals early season dominance while winning their first three meetings. But the Bruins tired of the Habs antics in their last showdown at TD Garden in February, and the result was nearly 200 minutes in penalties, 13 fights and pandemonium all over the ice.The 8-6 Boston win was described by many as the best NHL regular season game of the season, and it'll be difficult for Tuesday's follow-up in Canada to match it.Its highly unlikely there will be a repeat of that gong show from the Garden, but there are also plenty of statements to be made between a pair of teams prepared toface each other in the first round of the playoffs.Thats the kind of game face Marchand was donningat the Bell Centre morning skate when asked question after question about Montreals tactics, and he replied with honest, disdainful answers.We have to not worry about them diving and chipping away at us, said Marchand. We just have to play physical and things will be all right.They like to get in and shoot their mouths off, and then when you hit them they dive down easy. They give a lot of shots behind the play, back of the legs and stuff like that. Then when we run them they play it off like they didnt deserve it. Its the kind of team they are. Theyre pretty good at it.Marchand said much of what happened in Februarys penalty-filled homageto Slap Shot was a result of Boston refusing to turn the other cheek at any of Montreals cheap shots, and instead forcing the normally evasive Les Habitants to pay for their crimes against hockey.Its tough. Its very frustrating. When you have a team like we do thats big, tough and strong you dont want to take any of it, said Marchand. I think thats kind of what happened in the last game. Guys werent putting up with it, and I dont think the Canadiens wanted to back down. Thats why things got so crazy. Thats what happens when you want to play that kind of game.Marchand wouldnt say that hes "not going to run P.K. Subban back if he gets a chance to hit him after the flamboyant Habs defenseman attempted to run into him againin their last meeting. But its an interesting predicament for Marchand to be the one trouble-maker on the Bs side that plays the same kind of antagonistic game as Montreal, and must keep himself in check like his teammates willon Tuesday night.That's no easy task when there's blood boiling all over the ice in such an intense rivalry, and coming off a game that saw so many of Montreal's players bloodied and beaten down.If the refs dont take control of it early in the game then things are going to get really chippy, said Marchand. We heard that they were a little upset about Spacek and Hamrlik getting into fights, but they willingly dropped the gloves. Nobody made them. Gregory Campbell didnt want to get into a fight, but he did anyway.They threw the first punch. They stir the pot and they got what they deserve. It wasnt our fault. They played into our hands. Whatever theyre mad about they can suck it up. Its not our fault.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.