Marchand's strength on the puck gives B's an overtime advantage

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Marchand's strength on the puck gives B's an overtime advantage

BOSTON – Over the years, the Bruins have developed a weapon of mass overtime destruction in the form of left winger Brad Marchand.

Since the NHL adopted the 3-on-3 overtime in 2015-16 to help fewer regular-season games end with a shootout, Marchand has become even more of a weapon with his shifty moves and unmistakable, heavy strength on the puck. The Bruins winger was at it again Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens when he held the puck on his stick for nearly 30 seconds in overtime before swinging behind the net and flinging a puck past Antti Niemi for the game-winner in a 2-1 OT win at TD Garden.

There are times during 5-on-5 play in regulation time that the Nose Face Killah can get in a little bit of trouble hanging onto the puck, whether it’s a turnover or getting blasted with a big hit after somebody has lined up the 5-foot-8 forward. Still, in OT, it’s almost a game to watch if there’s a single defender that can take the puck off Marchand’s stick in the offensive zone. That's doubly so when it’s a gassed defensive unit he's facing as it was Saturday night.

“We were talking about that in the room. [Bruins assistant coach] Kevin [Dean] said that ‘pound for pound, he must be the strongest guy on the puck,’" Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I’d have to think about that one. Michael Nylander. Did you ever watch Michael Nylander play? I saw him in Toronto last week; he was there to watch his son." The elder Nylander, of course, played with the Bruins briefly in 2003-04. “He was very strong on the puck. Probably quicker, like turning, but very strong on the puck.

“Theo Fleury back in the day, I thought was pretty strong. I’m using smaller guys, obviously. So he’s got to be up there at one of the strongest in the league. I had [Jaromir] Jagr, but he’s 6-foot-3 and 200 [pounds]. He was a guy you couldn’t get it from when he was protecting it from. But [Marchand] does a great job. That [overtime] goal, that’s all-world. To have it that long and then be able to finish, [it’s a] hell of a play.”

It was Marchand’s 10th career overtime goal, which puts him in a tie with Dit Clapper and Glen Murray for the most OT scores in Bruins history. That’s pretty lofty company and it also confirms that No. 63 has become a certifiable OT weapon when things open up in 3-on-3 play with room to operate all over the ice.

“It’s something we’ve built on a bit. We weren’t great early on. I think just the way our team has come together has pushed our overtime units to be a little bit better and a little more productive,” said Marchand, who now has a ridiculous 61 points in 50 games. “We were a little sloppy early on but that was kind of the overall gain and now we’ve dialed it in a bit and same with the OT.

“You’re just looking for an opening and [against Montreal] you could tell they were getting a little tired out there. You just wait for that opening to show itself and it just did. [Being strong on the puck] has always been a staple for me. I never had the best hands, so I was always just trying to keep it away from people. So much of the 3-on-3 is about puck possession and holding onto it. That’s the biggest thing. Normally, when you try to go through guys that’s when you kind of break things down and you’re just trying to keep it away from everyone and find a hole.”

While many would say Marchand’s being a little too modest about the quality of his hands, there’s no question it’s the tenacious, heavy handle on the puck, combined with his shooting marksmanship, make him a lethal weapon for the Bruins in OT.


Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.


Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

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Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

The Ottawa Senators announced Tuesday that team captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda lost their son one month before his due date.


"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son.

We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."

The couple announced via Instagram in November that they were expecting, and the CBC reports the baby was due in April.

Sens head coach Guy Boucher spoke about the tragedy after Ottawa's game vs the Panthers on Tuesday (1:36 mark in video below).

Karlsson, a rumored Bruins target before the trade deadline, received heartfelt condolences from the hockey world on Twitter:

Our thoughts too go out to Erik and Melinda during this incredibly difficult time.