Bruins

Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand

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Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night:

1) Brad Marchand is putting together a Hart Trophy resume for the second consecutive season. 
Clearly, the numbers are impressive with 12 goals, 25 points and a plus-12 rating in just 20 games. He’s on pace for 44 goals and 93 points in an era when you just don’t see that kind of production much anymore. Still, it’s the time and the place where Marchand exerts his dominance that makes him an MVP-type force. That’s exactly what happened in the come-from-behind win. The Bruins hadn’t played well for the first 40 minutes and it looked like they were going to lose after Dylan Larkin struck for a shorthanded goal in the third period. That’s when Marchand got to work snapping a slick, cross-ice pass through three Detroit defenders to set up David Pastrnak’s tying goal with the goalie pulled. Then Marchand scored on a backhanded breakaway less than a minute into OT to steal two points for the B's. Of course, there were others to credit: Pastrnak was able to put a great finish on the one-timer, David Backes attracted attention in front of the net to create the passing seam and Torey Krug freed up Marchand for the breakaway winner. But it was No. 63 again at the center of everything who practically willed the Black and Gold to victory. That’s the kind of thing that MVP-type players do throughout the season when it’s badly needed.

2) Bruins found a way to get two points in a game where really they didn't deserve it. 
The Bruins didn’t play well at all, didn’t react very adeptly to Detroit's trapping them and had a difficult time generating anything consistently in the offensive zone until the third period. Tuukka Rask kept them in the game and the Bruins finally began paying the price to get closer to the net in the third and overtime. Good teams find a way to win, and that’s what the Bruins did against a Red Wings team that’s not going anywhere this season. So, with their ninth victory in the past 11 tries, the Bruins are now firmly in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and have a four-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens with a whopping four games in hand against the Habs right now. If the Bruins can avoid monumentally stubbing their toe here, they are in a very good position to keep it in cruise control after the holidays for a postseason spot.

3)  I didn’t think people from Detroit were afraid of anything.
Apparently, I’ve given them way too much credit. Apparently, they’re afraid of a little snow. The downtown Detroit area got six inches of snow on Wednesday and that was enough to keep Red Wings fans away from the new Little Caesars Arena. When you’re from New England, six inches of snow is considered a dusting and isn’t something that would keep any self-respecting hardcore hockey fan away. But anybody who watched the "Wednesday Night Rivalry Game" on NBCSN got an eyeful of empty red seats in the lower bowl at LCA that made Detroit look like anything but HockeyTown. Skipping the game would be understandable if the Motor City was truly in the thrall of a nasty blizzard, but instead Wings fans looked like a player turtling in a hockey fight with the sad attendance. Weak sauce, in my opinion. Next time just shut down the entire city and cancel everything when an inch or two is in the forecast. 

PLUS
*Marchand was the money player. He set up the tying goal in the third period with a slick cross-ice, threaded pass through three defenders, and then scoring the winner. In all, he had two points, a plus-1 and a couple of gigantic plays in his 22-plus minutes of ice time.

*Torey Krug finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in a whopping 23:39 of ice time. It was No. 47 who threaded the needle on a pass that freed up Marchand for the winner. Krug and Marchand were the only two multi-point performers for the Black and Gold.

*Noel Acciari didn’t pile up the hits and he only played 10:50 of ice time, but he made a huge play in the third period when he disrupted the Detroit breakout on a Wings face-off win in the D-zone. He was rewarded with a loose puck goal in front of the net right after causing the turnover. That shift from the fourth line really started shifting the game in Boston’s direction.

MINUS
*The Bruins had two shots on net in the first period and had just one decent scoring chance in the first 40 minutes (a Pastrnak breakaway in the second period) while playing right into the hands of the trap-happy Wings. The Bruins deserved to lose this game based on the way they played early, but a few individuals ended up saving their bacon.

*One shot on net and a minus-3 rating for Henrik Zetterberg, who was mostly invisible aside from a PP assist to Tomas Tatar early in the game. Zetterberg was on the ice for every goal scored by the Bruins and was grossly negligent on at least one of them.

*The refs bungled a call on Patrice Bergeron that directly set up the Wings first goal. Bergeron was clearly tripped by Frans Nielsen in the second period and Nielsen then stumbled over Bergeron’s stick as No. 37 was trying to lift himself up off the ice after falling due to the original tripping infraction. Instead, the refs merely saw the end of the play, called Bergeron for a bogus tripping call and that turned into a PP score for Tomas Tatar that broke the game open. You’d really expect a player such as Bergeron to get the benefit of the doubt on plays like that, wouldn’t you? 
 

DeBrusk sparkles in first steps on postseason stage

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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...