Bruins

Marchand gets revenge vs. Flyers, but is he taking too many big hits?

bruins_brad_marchand_120217.jpg

Marchand gets revenge vs. Flyers, but is he taking too many big hits?

PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers learned the hard way on Saturday afternoon that you wouldn’t want to play Brad Marchand after you get him angry.

Marchand was blasted by an Ivan Provorov check to the head early in the game that knocked him out for the rest of the first period, and inexplicably got cross-checked by Shayne Gostisbehere when the Flyers on the power play in the second period. In between he played a starring role in a pair of second-period goals that helped the 3-0 final score over the Flyers after returning to the ice with a vengeful attitude once he knew he’d be okay.

“A little bit. I was a little bit frustrated. I think been hit more this year than every other year of my career combined. I just need to do a better job of keeping my head up,” said a smirking Marchand. “I felt fine. I more just got it in the mouth and in the nose, which I guess is to be expected.”

MORE:

Marchand is exactly right. He got dinged up weeks ago after a heavy check from Capitals hard-hitter Tom Wilson and then again during a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs when Leo Komarov tagged him a couple of times as well.

That’s a lot of abuse before even considering Provorov’s actions stepping up and crunching Marchand when he got caught with his head down. That’s far too much wear and tear considering how valuable Marchand is to the Bruins in his do-everything role, and how much trouble they’d be in without him this season.   

Marchand started his assault on the Flyers with a nifty little face-off play in the offensive zone. Patrice Bergeron lost the draw, but Marchand jumped right in between a group of stunned Philly skaters and quickly fed the puck to David Pastrnak waiting to shoot it from the slot. Pastrnak buried it past Brian Elliott for his 13th goal of the season, and the Bruins doubled their lead in the middle period.

He wasn’t done yet, however, as he got into the goal-scoring action in the second period as well. Marchand cut to the net and took a high-to-low pass from Charlie McAvoy that allowed him to shovel a puck past Elliott for a commanding three-goal lead. Shortly after that Gostisbehere cross-checked Marchand's hand after an innocent dump-in to the Flyers zone, and in doing so completely wiped out a Philly power play.

“He always plays with that edge, and people get angry with him on the other team,” said Tuukka Rask. “They take runs at him, and he doesn’t let that bother him. Some years ago he might have let his game slip a little bit, but now he just goes back out there and puts it in the net. That’s the best way to do it, right?”

It was a dumb play by Gostisbehere to be sure, but it also showed that Marchand had passed on his anger to a Flyers group that was about to lose their 10th game in a row. That’s the revenge served cold that No. 63 was looking for after returning from the first intermission, and exactly the kind of thing that fires up his teammates once they see that he’s okay.

“It looked like a high hit. I thought it was a dangerous hit that should have been more than two minutes. He’s been knocked around a bit this year, and obviously gets targeted just like [David Pastrnak]. We’ll have to address that, but it was nice to see him bounce back,” said Cassidy. “He’s a top end guy for us that does everything.”

Given that Marchand missed eight out of ten games while in the concussion protocol prior to his latest return to the lineup, there should be some concern about how the Bruins are going to protect both No. 63 and No. 88 as they continue to dominate offensively. It doesn’t help that tough guy Adam McQuaid is injured and unable to currently help protect those two skill players, but the Bruins need to start considering perhaps the addition of a little more toughness to the lineup if the current group can’t start discouraging some of the increased cheap shots and heavy hits.

Maybe the return of David Backes and the presence of the ultra-tough Kevan Miller is enough to go along with captain Zdeno Chara on the B’s roster, but it certainly feels like other teams aren’t exhibiting any trepidation taking runs at Marchand right now.  

Above and beyond that the Bruins are doing what they should when a team targets a player, and that means watching a guy like Marchand exact his revenge with explosive offense rather than his own brand of on-the-edge antics.   

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Is Ovechkin clutch?

usatsi_10474401.jpg

Morning Skate: Is Ovechkin clutch?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while still not believing what I saw in last night’s Patriots/Steelers game. Boy, has Tom Brady been a treat to watch over the course of his career. 

 

*Pro Hockey Talk asks if Alex Ovechkin is clutch. Why do I feel like this could develop into an “Is Joe Flacco Elite?” level of debate? 

 

*Nashville D-man (it still feels weird writing that) PK Subban is planning to use his creativity to help grow the game of hockey that he loves so very much. 

 

*Erik Karlsson is getting to the top of his game at a rather appropriate time as trade rumors start to swirl with him along with a massive price tag on his next contract. The question is this: Who has the prospects and the cap room to make a move for Karlsson work, and what would they have to give up to the Sens in order to get him? Multiple blue chip prospects, first round pick and an established, All-Star-level player would be my starting point.  

 

*Speaking of the Ottawa Senators, Vice Sports says that the Senators fan base deserves a better owner than Eugene Melnyk. 

 

*Ryan Reaves and Kris Letang headline a list of five big questions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins through the rest of the season. 

 

*For something completely different: A Spoiler-rific take on the Last Jedi, and the kind of things the next movie must do in order to make this movie more palatable to the hard-core fan base.  

Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday

bruins_tuukka_rask_120217.jpg

Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have enjoyed a lot of down time over the first two months of the NHL regular season, but that’s beginning to change now as they enter the holiday season. Sure they will get the three-day break around the Christmas holiday just like everybody else around the NHL, but they’re heading into that three-day respite with a schedule of seven games in 11 days, including back-to-back games Columbus and Buffalo kicking off tonight at TD Garden. 

It’s good that this kind of busy sequence didn’t come down when the B’s were injury ravaged over the first few months of the season, but there’s never an easy time to play four 60-minute effort games in a span of six days, including a short rest matinee on Saturday vs. the Red Wings.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will undoubtedly roll lines a little more liberally and probably rotate some players into his lineup, but he’s going with the same forwards and D-men in front of Tuukka Rask on Monday night vs. the Blue Jackets. The Bruins are doing what they can during a dense portion of the schedule, and making certain they’re ready to give their best after dropping back-to-back games against the Capitals and Rangers last week. 

“You just need to make it easy on ourselves by not playing a hard game, and not doing damage to ourselves to make things more difficult,” said Brad Marchand. “You take care of the puck and keep it simple, and then whenever you get a day off you need to rest up and recover. That’s all you can really do.”

So Rask will get the nod with Anton Khudobin likely to start against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, and the lineup will be exactly the same as vs. the Rangers with Anders Bjork sitting for the second game in a row: 

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE