Bruins

Source: NHL reviewing Marchand hit to the head of Johansson

bruins_brad_marchand_012417.jpg

Source: NHL reviewing Marchand hit to the head of Johansson

BOSTON – About the only thing that could slow down the Bruins’ scalding hot Perfection Line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak) is injuries or a suspension, and they may have to deal with one of those in the short term.

The NHL Department of Player Safety is reviewing a Brad Marchand elbow to the head of Marcus Johansson in the third period of Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, per a source.

There was no penalty called on the play as both Johansson and Marchand converged on the net just as the B’s left winger was firing a shot, but replays showed that Marchand caught the Devils forward with an elbow to the side of the head just as he was hurtling down to the ice. Johansson was down for an extended period and had to be helped back to the New Jersey dressing room following the play, and he didn’t return to the game after the incident with Marchand.

Perhaps Marchand had his elbows raised in self-defense as he felt a Devils player approaching him from behind or he was simply trying to avoid crashing into the Devils goalie, but the replay showed clear, hard contact to the side of Johansson’s head.

The Bruins winger said after the game that he wasn’t sure exactly what happened, but hoped that Johansson was going to be okay after going down.

“What happened? I don’t know; he got hurt. I don’t know what happened…I have no idea what Happened,” said Marchand, who finished with a goal and two points in 20:06 of ice time. “I took a shot and I tumbled down and he was hurt. So I don’t know what happened there, but hopefully he’s okay.”

Marchand has gotten off pretty easily in a couple of instances when he’s been in the crosshairs of player safety recently with a $10,000 fine last year on a tripping play with Niklas Kronwall, and no supplemental discipline on a high hit on John Tavares that earned him a five minute major penalty. Marchand was suspended just ahead of the playoffs last season for a spearing incident with Jake Dotchin, but he’d managed to avoid any further trouble with the long arm of the NHL law thus far this year.

But his past history with the league’s disciplinarians isn’t going to work in his favor as Marchand has been fined or suspended seven previous times, so by all accounts he’s viewed as a repeat offender by the NHL.  

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Miller replacing McQuaid in B's lineup vs. Leafs

Miller replacing McQuaid in B's lineup vs. Leafs

TORONTO – The Bruins will make a switch with their defensemen group, but it won’t be to add newly acquired Nick Holden into the lineup.

Instead, Kevan Miller will draw back in for the Bruins after missing the past nine games due to an upper-body injury, and Adam McQuaid will be a healthy scratch after playing pretty well since his return from the injured list.

Holden will be a healthy scratch in his first game with Boston, as Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy starts to map out a plan with his newfound D-men depth ahead of the trade deadline on Monday afternoon.  

“It’s a game-to-game, day-to-day decision. We’ll get through today and then see what we’ve got,” said Cassidy. “[Holden] will get in there eventually. I just don’t want to pinpoint a date. [Miller] is in for McQuaid. Adam did a great job, and Kevan did a great job before he got hurt. That’s always a tough call when you’re playing guys that are healthy, but it’s a good problem to have in the long run.”

With a back-to-back situation in Buffalo where they play a second game in less than 24 hours, there’s every possibility Cassidy could opt for some fresh bodies against the Sabres after an expectedly hard-fought game vs. Toronto.

Other than Miller stepping in for McQuaid, the Bruins will ice the same lineup as they did out in Western Canada and will start Tuukka Rask against the Maple Leafs team that originally drafted him before trading him to Boston. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on the morning skate at the Air Canada Centre:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

 
Rask
 

B's last chance to send message to likely playoff opponent

B's last chance to send message to likely playoff opponent

TORONTO – The Bruins might be saying all the right things, and certainly, anything can happen with 24 games still left in the regular season, but they also know the laws of probability say that the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be their first-round opponent in the playoffs.

The Bruins are just three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with three games in hand and three games head-to-head vs. the Bolts down the stretch, so nothing is set in stone, of course. But the Black and Gold also know tonight’s date with the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre is the last time the two divisional rivals will face each other prior to any postseason meetings.

The Leafs took the first two in a home-and-home series against a very different Bruins team back in mid-November. The Bruins got payback last month against a weary Toronto bunch at TD Garden. For the third time in the four meetings, the Leafs will also be without superstar sophomore Auston Matthews, out with a shoulder injury sustained on Thursday night against the New York Rangers.

Either way, the Bruins are wary that this will be a final bit of message-sending to a team they’re very likely to see at some point in what they hope is a long Stanley Cup playoff run. They’re treating the important, late-season game accordingly.

“Now I think you can forecast that this may be a playoff matchup at some point, maybe not the first round but maybe the second round. But at some point, it looks like we’ll probably have to play them, so you’d like to leave a reminder of how good of a team we can be,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think they’re probably thinking the same, so I’m expecting a really good hockey game with the atmosphere on a Saturday night in Toronto and our guys with a few days off. Both teams have been winning a lot lately, so it should be a good game.”

It will also give a good window into what lies ahead for some of Boston’s rookie players in what should be as close to a playoff matchup as they’ve seen this season. With that in mind, all Bruins players are gearing up for their best while also knowing there’s a Sunday late afternoon trap game waiting for them in Buffalo against the Sabres.

“There are still lots of games left, but we’re aware of what’s going on with the standings and that this could be a possible [playoff] matchup,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We know it’s always tough games against them and very tight-checking hockey. We’re still trying to approach it as we’ve approached it all year, which is taking it one game at a time while pushing ourselves to be better. [Saturday] is back at it and then it’s a very busy schedule to the end, so these were our last few days of rest, I guess.”

Starting on Saturday night in Toronto, it’s 24 games in 44 days to end the regular season in one last major test of the resiliency, depth and mental toughness. It all starts with a big one against the Leafs in front of a Hockey Night in Canada audience with a final parting message on the minds of everybody.  

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