Bruins

Marchand, Acciari both set to return vs. Maple Leafs

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Marchand, Acciari both set to return vs. Maple Leafs

TORONTO – Turns out there was good reason Bruce Cassidy hadn't ruled Brad Marchand out from a return. 

Marchand was at the Air Canada Centre bright and early on Friday and made it through the morning skate with no problem and is expected back into the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marchand missed the past two games with what the Bruins have termed a concussion, but it appeared he was healing from both that and a knee problem that had been bugging him in the past few games.

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It was a John Carlson low shot to his knee behind the play that sent Marchand off in the middle of the Washington loss and saw No. 63 smash his stick over the dasher in frustration when he made it back to the bench.  

“It’s a big game tonight and I always have fun playing here. [It’s a] fun matchup and it’s a very good team over there that’s fun to play against. I’m feeling good, and I decided to get back to playing,” said Marchand. “I’m feeling good and look forward to playing. The last few days were good, so I decided to come back.

“I felt fine [against the Capitals] and then I just kind of stiffened up after the game, but I feel good.”

The Bruins will also welcome hard-hitting fourth-liner Noel Acciari back after he missed the previous 13 games with a broken finger. The return of both players should make the Black and Gold a much tougher team to play against. Here are the line combos and D-pairings against the Leafs based on morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Heinen-Szwarz-Bjork

Beleskey-Kuraly-DeBrusk

Schaller-Nash-Acciari

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Postma-Miller

 
Khudobin 

Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

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Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while happy to be done driving back and forth from Montreal for a little while. 

 

*Carey Price was reportedly suffering from chronic fatigue at the beginning of the season related to some vitamin deficiencies. That’s got to be re-assuring to an NHL hockey team when their $10 million a year goaltender is starting to complain about chronic fatigue in the very early stages of his gigantic contract. It makes any complaints about Tuukka Rask making $7 million a year to be child’s play in comparison. 

 

*It just keeps getting better with Isles rookie Mat Barzal as this weekend Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was raving about him and the way he plays hockey. 

 

*Good for old friend Chris Kelly, who says that a gold medal for Team Canada at the Olympics would be a great capper to his hockey career. 

 

*In an amazing story, the Vegas Golden Knights just keeping better and more powerful in their inaugural seasons. Pro Hockey Talk has the details. 

 

*In an interesting twist and a harbinger of more changes to come for the organization it would appear, Paul Coffey was named as a skills coach within the Oilers organization. 

 

*For something completely different: Tom Brady getting in touch with some F-bombs prior to today’s game against the Jaguars. 

Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 

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