Bruins

Marchand takes it to another level

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Marchand takes it to another level

As audacious and bold as he can be while rousing the rabble on the ice, Brad Marchand never allowed himself to dream hed collect a hat trick in an NHL game.

Sure the Nose Face Killah had finished off 21 goals in his rookie season, and he had himself a career-making postseason performance on the way to Stanley Cup glory. But Marchand has taken another quantum jump forward in his second NHL season, and didn't even need Scott Bakula to accomplish it. Marchand snapped off three goals, a career-high five points and finished with a gaudy plus-5 in Bostons 8-0 skinning of the Florida Panthers Friday night, and added another chapter in what's become an increasingly surprising career in Boston.

The most amazing part: Marchand managed to pack all of that action into just12:48 of ice time in the blowout victory. That is what you'd call an action-packed evening of hockey.

Hes good at finding the puck around the net, and also finding ways to put the puck in. Hes pretty resilient, too at just finding ways to score, said Patrice Bergeron. Right now hes playing really well, and you cant ask more than four goals in two games, can you? Its great for him to see that, and hopefully he can stay like that.

It was Marchands first career hat trick, obviously, and it was a nice little collection of the items inthe left wingers tool box: tenacity, skill and a willingness to push the envelope all wrapped up into a single evenings performance. The three scores also pushed Marchand into the team lead with 15 goals on the season, and placed him right on a pace for more than 30 goals this year.That's the official line that turns a hockey player from nice offensive piece into a bone fide goal-scoring force, and it looks like Marchand is headed there just as Milan Lucic went there last season.

Rather than thumping his chest while wearing a Nose Face Killah t-shirt or taking all the credit in the postgame dressing room, Marchand spread out some love among his teammates in a season thats looking every bit as special as his rookie campaign.

I think Ive just been fortunate enough to play with great players and I just kind of feed off them and get some lucky goals, said Marchand, who did manage to work in that his "Nose Face Killah" t-shirts are being sold on the street. I never expected to be in that position and I dont expect to be there long. But its a lot of fun being on this team and being in the winning ways right now, so hopefully it keeps going.

In true catalyst fashion Marchand got the ball rolling in the blowout win with an early shorthanded goal that knocked the Panthers right off their pegs. The Bruins coaches wanted Boston to overwhelm a physically exhausted Florida crew right off the opening puck drop, and Marchand was like a solitary energizer bunny.

The 23-year-old penalty killing dervish carried the puck through the entire Florida power play unit after receiving the Bergeron dish, and flipped a quick shot Jose Theodore before the Florida goaltender knew what was happening. It was Marchands first shorthanded goal this season after he led the Bruins with fiveshort-handed goals last year.

The Bs agitator was able to relax and watch as his teammates popped in five unanswered goals after his first strike, but then Marchand started cooking things up again in the third period.

He got a gift on his opening shift of the third period when a pass toward Bergeron at the goal mouth took a fortunate bounce off a skateand got behind Scott Clemmensen. With two goals and nearly an entire third period to play, the hat trick watch was on. Even Marchand and his linemates were talking about it onthe uber-confident Boston bench as the minutes melted away.

We were on the bench before our shift and Seguin was like, Be ready, if I get any pucks in the slot, Im giving it to you, said Marchand. So when he got it I knew it was coming over to me. I just put it in the open net.Seguina and Marchand took care of the final piece of the hat trick with some nice give-and-go passing that ended with the B's winger snapping a shot off top shelf over Clemmensen.

The best part about Marchands evening: there werent any bad brat moments to take away from his turn as an offensive force. Instead Marchand and Co. pounded away at the Florida defense with 11 total shots on net for his forward line, and the agitator stayed out of the fray.Rather thantaking penalties or spinning out of control, Marchand was making the Panthers pay with his shorthanded derring-do.

To Marchands coach thats a sign of maturity in the players game that goes beyond the obvious production on the ice.

The experience is whats taking over right now. Im not going to hide the fact that there are still some things we deal with whether its a weekly basis or a daily basis, said Claude Julien. Hes a real emotional individual and sometimes he just gets himself all wound up. You have to point him down a little bit. But, I think hes done a good job of dealing with that.

Whenever he does kind of get wound up you just kind of grab him and touch him by the shoulder and he gets it now. Thats what makes him a good player. Ive said it many times: as long as he doesnt cross that line then hes good at it. I think hes got to play with emotion to be successful, and I think hes learning to do that more. His experience from last year to this year has really helped him.

So what does Marchand do for an encore after Julien has given him the all-too familiar tap on the shoulder?

How about helping Patrice Bergeron become the final member of their line to register a hat trick after Marchands three goals against Florida and Seguins memorable hat trick in Toronto earlier this season?

Thats the kind of mission a good teammate would gladly accept moving forward this year, and one that the Marchandwill no doubt embrace after "Nose Face Killing" the Panthers.

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.