Bruins

Marchand looking to turn early-season frustration around

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Marchand looking to turn early-season frustration around

The always-feisty Brad Marchand showed some unmistakable signs of frustration in the shutout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday afternoon. At one point in the second period, he fired a stick down the runway from the Bruins bench after hopping over the boards at the end of an unproductive shift. In that fit of puck pique, he looked much more like an Olympian javelin thrower than an NHL player.

Perhaps some of it was about Marchand getting the “A” on his sweater to start this season and the Bruins left winger showing some emotion and a little fire on the bench after not nearly enough was being displayed on the ice in a weak loss. 

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Some of it was probably about missing his partner-in-crime Patrice Bergeron for the first couple of games with no real indication when he’ll be back from his lower body injury.

A good deal was also just plain, old frustration from Marchand, who has just a single shot on net in each of the first two games. He has a goal thanks to his empty-netter at the end of Boston’s opening night win, but aside from that, the Nose Face Killah really hasn’t gotten untracked offensively.

“[The Colorado loss] was a tough game. It was one of those ones where I was making some bad decisions and really fighting the puck a bit,” said Marchand, who had three turnovers in the loss while not showing the usual moxie and energy that colors his game. “But it’s one you have to learn from. The good thing about this game is that you have [Wednesday in Colorado] where you can get back at it and keep working on your game. That was a learning experience. One I’d like to forget, but that’s hockey.

“It’s going to happen that guys are going to be in and out of the lineup during the year, and you’ve got to adjust to skating with different players. That’s just the way it goes. Obviously, we’d love to have Bergeron back in the lineup and it will happen at some point, but we still have to build chemistry and do the job with whoever we’re playing.”

It's certainly been difficult for No. 63 to skate without Bergeron and with rotating centers Ryan Spooner, David Krejci and Riley Nash as Bruce Cassidy looks to find a combo that works for his leading scorer. 

Marchand has traditionally been a slow starter for the Bruins, aside from last season when he was still warmed up from the World Cup of Hockey, and it’s clear that the B’s need him now more than ever with Bergeron and David Backes out of the lineup. 

Cassidy said he has complete faith that Marchand bounce back on the upcoming three-game trip and there’s ample evidence he will do it quickly coming off a Hart Trophy-level season last year.

“He’ll always get attention, so I think he’s used to that. He knows he’s going to see the best D-pair every night, especially if he’s playing with [Pastrnak],” said Cassidy of Marchand, who has averaged 38 goals and 73 points the past two seasons.  “Missing his buddy helps [keep him quiet]…the guy that he plays very well with. Absolutely. So the onus falls on him to play through that, and that really matters.

“[Marchand] knows that he can be better. We’ve discussed it and he will be. That guy figures stuff out and he’s going to play. He’ll play well for us, and he knows we need him now maybe more than other days because of who we’re missing from our lineup. I expect him to be really good in our next game.”

There are times Marchand can be streaky, but you can also normally count on him for a strong response when he’s authored a particularly poor game. That should be the case when the Bruins take the ice in Colorado on Wednesday night looking to humble the team that did that to them on Monday. 

Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

BUFFALO – Rick Nash has been a longtime good buddy of Jumbo Joe Thornton, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that was one of the first texts that the new Bruins power forward received this morning upon learning he’d been traded to Boston.

“He’d always said it was a great place to play,” said Nash. “I actually got a text from him this morning, so that’s pretty cool.”

The 33-year-old Nash will learn firsthand what it’s like to play for the Boston Bruins after getting dealt to the Black and Gold on Sunday morning from the Rangers in exchange for a bundle of assets amounting to a 2018 first round pick, NCAA defenseman prospect Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash is in the lineup for the Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, and he’ll be playing exactly where the Bruins envisioned on David Krejci’s right wing.

The deal will give the Bruins the size, heaviness and power that they’ve been looking to add on their wing this season, and gives Krejci the exact kind of player that he’s had success with in the past a la Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla.

“The team has had such a great year that you don’t want to come in here and ruffle any feathers. You just want to fit in and help out wherever you can,” said Nash. “It was a strange last few weeks in New York, but I’ve moved on and I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m really excited to be here. I wanted to go to a place that wanted me, and that had a great chance to win. I think Boston fits both of those perfectly.

“I just want to bring my style of hockey, and be a big power forward that can hopefully bring some offense, be responsible defensively and be a complete player. It’ll be fun to see what happens. They’re such a good team and they have so many good players that you just want to see where you fit in.

The hope for the Bruins, obviously, is that the chance at a Stanley Cup can light a fire under the 33-year-old Nash, who has posted 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games for the Rangers this season after failing to crack 40 points in each of the last two seasons. Clearly the big-bodied Nash is on the back nine of an All-Star NHL career, but the Bruins see a 6-foot-4, 215-pound dynamic winger that can still score, hit and play the power game around the net that’s needed when things get nasty in the postseason.

“He’s very dynamic. He’s hard to stop and contain one-on-one. He’s got good speed and can protect the puck well, and get so the net with good hands around the net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s all those things are far as attacking the scoring area. He’s a good penalty killer and responsible defensive player. He’s a good fit and he’s going to right in with [David] Krejci on the right wing with Jake DeBrusk on the left.

“We’re not huge in that area. In our top-9 it will give us a different look and I think it will help us a lot. No disrespect to Ryan Spooner, who went into it with a different skill set. We didn’t expect him to grow five inches earlier this year, so this certainly helps us in those closer, harder games. We’ll see where it leads us.”

In his last three playoff runs with the Rangers, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points in 39 games, which is much better playoff production than the impact winger had earlier in his NHL career. And that is what the Bruins spent all of those assets for on Sunday morning with a chance for Nash to bring something to the B’s as they have big plans for this spring.  

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Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

Here are the all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while nothing could be finer than a Sunday spent in Buffalo. 

 

*Congrats to Chris Kelly, who parlayed his captaincy with Team Canada into a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks for the rest of this season. 

 

*A very good move by the Maple Leafs to land Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, who is definitely a guy that gets under the skin of Bruins center David Krejci if Boston and Toronto do indeed meet in the first round of the playoffs. 

 

*Patrik Elias gets the hero’s treatment from the New Jersey Devils after a fantastic career with the organization. 

 

*Do not get on the goaltenders in St. Louis with mock cheers, or you will surely feel the wrath of Vladimir Tarasenko. 

 

*What happens when an excellent, electric hockey game gets in the way of a trade deadline where the Montreal Canadiens are selling off pieces? 

 

*For something completely different: Here’s an excellent piece on the work of NBC production people back in Stamford, Connecticut that are the backbone of the Olympics coverage that everybody has come to know and love. 

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