Bruins

Rask, Marchand named NHL All-Stars for first time

Rask, Marchand named NHL All-Stars for first time

ST. LOUIS – The expectation was always that goalie Tuukka Rask was going to make the NHL All-Star Game when it was announced, but the Bruins got a pleasant surprise on Tuesday when both Rask and Brad Marchand were named to the Atlantic Division team.

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It’s a first-time honor for Rask and Marchand and continues to illustrate the changing of the guard on Boston’s roster, where in years past Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron were standby selections for the Black and Gold. Marchand was excited about the unanticipated honor and is looking forward to the big stage after starring for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey earlier this season.

For the second year in a row, the format is a 3-on-3 tournament, with players split into four teams by division. The All-Star Game is Jan. 29 in Los Angeles. 

“It’s a huge honor. It’s something that I never really expected to see during my career, especially coming in [to the league],” said Marchand, who leads the B’s with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games this season. “But it’s something I’ll be very proud of and it should be a lot of fun.

“There’s been a lot going on and it’s been a long year, so [an All-Star nod] hadn’t really been on my mind at all. With the way it was there is one guy needed from each team, and I expected that [Tuukka Rask] would be there. So I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but it’s a huge honor.”

Clearly, Marchand wondered if he’d always be viewed nationally as a pest and a troublemaker rather than an All-Star, but the 37 goals last season combined with the World Cup performance have clearly changed his perception around the league to a large degree.

With Rask preparing for Tuesday night’s start against the Blues at the Scottrade Center, the Bruins netminder is going to wait until after the game to comment on his first All-Star appearance. The 29-year-old Rask is tied for first in the NHL in shutouts (5), third in the NHL in goals-against average (1.93), tied for third in the NHL in wins (20) and tied for fifth in the NHL in save percentage (.928) this season while carrying a Bruins team that has been decidedly average on many nights.

Here’s the full squad of NHL players invited to the NHL All-Star Game with B’s right winger David Pastrnak standing as a worthy Bruins player who didn’t get the invite this time around:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Forwards
Nikita Kucherov
Brad Marchand
Auston Matthews
Frans Nielsen
Kyle Okposo
Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen
Victor Hedman
Erik Karlsson
Shea Weber

Goaltenders
Carey Price (C)
Tuukka Rask

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Forwards
Sidney Crosby (C)
Taylor Hall
Evgeni Malkin
Alex Ovechkin
Wayne Simmonds
John Tavares

Defensemen
Justin Faulk
Seth Jones
Ryan McDonagh

Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky
Braden Holtby

CENTRAL DIVISION

Forwards
Patrick Kane
Patrik Laine
Nathan MacKinnon
Tyler Seguin
Vladimir Tarasenko
Jonathan Toews

Defensemen
P.K. Subban (C)
Duncan Keith
Ryan Suter

Goaltenders
Corey Crawford
Devan Dubynk

PACIFIC DIVISION

Forwards
Connor McDavid (C)
Jeff Carter
Johnny Gaudreau
Bo Horvat
Ryan Kesler
Joe Pavelski

Defensemen
Brent Burns
Drew Doughty
Cam Fowler

Goaltenders
Martin Jones
Mike Smith

DeBrusk sparkles in first steps on postseason stage

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File Photo

DeBrusk sparkles in first steps on postseason stage

TORONTO -- It will go down as the big insurance goal in Boston’s titanic Game 4 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it was also another stamp on the NHL rookie passport for Jake DeBrusk.

DeBrusk scored his second goal of the postseason finishing off a sweet David Krejci setup on a transition play in the third period of Thursday night’s game, giving the Bruins the insurance goal they needed in a 3-1 victory, and spent the moments afterward thinking about just how fortunate he’s been in this first NHL campaign.

“I knew it was coming the whole time, but the defensemen kind of slid and I saw the puck in the air,” said DeBrusk. “That’s just [Krejci] doing his thing and the next thing I knew the puck was on my tape. I had a wide-open net and I don’t know too many guys that are going to miss that. It was a gritty play by him, and that’s why he’s been who he’s been during his time with the Bruins. He’s a special player and he’s special for me to play with.”

The 21-year-old kid has already passed his old man, former NHL tough guy and current Canadian TV analyst Louie DeBrusk, in career NHL playoff points, and is on a team that’s one game away from advancing to the second round. For the Bruins, the two goals in four playoff games has been solid production from a youngster who's been arguably the best player on his forward line to this point in the series.

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Actually, it’s not much of an argument. DeBrusk has been the best player on his line to date, and that means he’s been leading the way for much bigger names like Krejci and Rick Nash in a playoff run where the Bruins will need more overall from their second line.

“It’s nice . . . to see these young guys enjoying the moment,” said coach BruceCassidy. “We saw it with Charlie [McAvoy] last year. They’re learning how to play winning hockey in April, and hopefully into May and June. That’s the idea. Because they’re in the lineup and we trust them to play ‘X’ number of minutes, [and] that’s what’s going to be required for us to be successful.

“They certainly don’t have to lead our team, and we’re not relying on them every night to lead our team. But just do your part, play hard and play well, play the right way this time of year and you’ll get opportunities to grow. Jake is finding it a bit offensively. The puck is finding him. It was a great play by Krejci and he had a couple of good looks. It’s working out well for him, and we’re going to need it because we can’t rely on just one line to score all our goals.”

For a hockey nut like DeBrusk, this is “pinch me” territory.

“I think I’m settling in okay. I enjoy it,” said DeBrusk, who led the Bruins with seven hits in a physical, board-battle filled effort that ended with his nifty finish around the net in the final period. “I like the physical intensity and everything [the playoffs] brings: The noise, the energy and pretty much everything about it. It’s what you play for.

"I’m really lucky to have this opportunity in my rookie year and on this team, and where I am in the lineup. I understand that as well so I’m just trying to enjoy every moment of it. You don’t really enjoy it when you lose, but you sure do when you win.”

If it turns out to be a long playoff run, there will certainly be other chances for different rookies to have their moments; there are so many of them on the B’s, ranging from McAvoy to Danton Heinen to Matt Grzelcyk to Sean Kuraly and even to Ryan Donato, who's currently out of the lineup. But it’s DeBrusk who's the rookie with the most veteran-like game who's off to a fast start in the postseason, and really seizing the rare rookie opportunity being given to him by the Bruins right now.

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'Positive' sign for Bergeron - he's skating, not ruled out for Game 5

'Positive' sign for Bergeron - he's skating, not ruled out for Game 5

Patrice Bergeron was back on the practice ice at Warrior Arena on Friday, skating on his own. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn't rule out his top-line center returning for a possible close-out Game 5 Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Bergeron was a last-minute scratch from the B's 3-1 Game 4 victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Thursday night with an upper-body injury. Boston has a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the second round with a win Saturday night.

More to come...