Bruins

Brad Marchand: NHL’s new face-off crackdown ‘an absolute joke’

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Brad Marchand: NHL’s new face-off crackdown ‘an absolute joke’

BRIGHTON, Mass – Count Brad Marchand among those NHL players that don’t like how closely officials are calling face-off violations so far this preseason.

The NHL is cracking down on run-of-the-mill slashing penalties to the arms and hands and calling an excessive number of penalties for forwards “cheating” in the face-off circle prior to the drop of the puck. 

This essentially means the opposing centers taking the face-off can’t be standing or have their sticks on the painted hash marks and instead must stand perfectly still while waiting for the puck to drop. Two consecutive violations of Section 10 of the rulebook will result in a two-minute delay of game: face-off violation penalty. It was called on numerous occasions for the first eight NHL preseason games played on Monday night.

Needless to say, Marchand was watching some games on Monday night while not playing in the first two preseason games for the Bruins and he called the stricter interpretation of the rulebook “an absolute joke.”

“The slashing [penalties] is one thing, but this face-off rule is an absolute joke. That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play all year like that,” said Marchand. “Basically you have to be a statue. You can’t move. It takes away from the center iceman. I think there was even a play [in the game I was watching] last night where a penalty was called on a 4-on-4 before play on the first penalty had even started because of a draw.

“That’s just a joke. I don’t know how you expect guys to step back, guys are excited to get in there and help out there centerman. I know they’re trying to add a little more offense to the game [with power plays] and make it more exciting, but you don’t want to ruin the game. It’s frustrating for everyone. There are ways to make the game better, but this isn’t one of them. We might as well start throwing D-men in there to take draws.”

Marchand did acknowledge that sometimes on-ice officials put an extra emphasis on making a slew of calls in preseason to let players get used to any new enforcement of rules like for face-offs and slashing calls. Perhaps that’s what is going on here. That may be the case in the face-off circle, but it sounds like Marchand is going to be one unhappy camper if the more stringent face-off rules interpretation creeps into the regular season. 


 

Bergeron (back spasms) makes first on-ice appearance at Bruins camp

Bergeron (back spasms) makes first on-ice appearance at Bruins camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – A welcome sight for the Bruins finally arrived Friday morning as Patrice Bergeron hopped on the ice for the first time in training camp. Bergeron had been out with back spasms suffered in the days leading up to the opening of camp as he worked his way back from groin surgery. He's just started getting back onto the ice the past couple of days testing out a back that he admits still feels “a little stiff.”

Bergeron left the ice when practice with the team got going, and he continued to be absent from the camp sessions along with Jakub Lauko (undisclosed), Sean Kuraly (lower body) and Ryan Fitzgerald (lower body).

Still, the fact Bergeron, 33, is slowly ramping things up is a good sign as the Bruins center still points toward the Oct. 3 season opener as the ultimate day when he really needs to be back to 100 percent.

“It felt great to be back on the ice and just slowly ramping it up. It’s always good to be touching the ice for sure,” said Bergeron, who said his preference continues to be getting into a preseason game if possible. “The goal is to be ready for game one. Hopefully, we get an exhibition game in at the end, but we’re going to play it by ear at that point. We’re not going to push for it, so we’ll see how it goes. The timeline hasn’t changed.

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“Time is on our side and that’s not always the case during the season. So we’re trying to use that to our advantage.”

Bergeron’s absence certainly left a void on the ice given his importance to the team, but these camp sessions with the reunited team after the China trip are when the importance steps up a bit. Given some of the injury issues Bergeron has suffered in camp the past few seasons, it’s a wise move to bring him along slowly.

Provided he can get on the ice for a full practice in the next week or so, there’s really no danger of No. 37 not being ready for when the Bruins open against the Capitals in DC Oct. 3 and that’s really the only timetable that matters.  

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Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

Bruins' young guns firing right now in camp, but can they keep it up?

BRIGHTON – It’s obviously still early in Bruins training camp and the two separate groups haven’t even practiced together yet thanks to the week-plus trip to China, but a theme is most definitely developing for the Black and Gold.

Similar to training camp a year ago, the youthful wave of Bruins prospects are taking their preseason by storm in the very best way possible. A third-round pick just a couple of months ago, 18-year-old Jakub Lauko has two goals in as many games and has shown that he may indeed be a first round talent that was snagged a couple of rounds later.

“I’m never nervous, so I think it’s a good thing for me that I’m never nervous,” said Lauko, after suiting up for his first NHL preseason game for the Bruins. “So, yeah, [it was] just fun.”

There's a bevy of B’s young guns out there having “fun” right now.  

Former BU center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of a trio of young prospects vying for the third line center spot in Boston, and the Swedish pivot currently leads all Bruins players in preseason scoring with three points in two games. JFK has shown the strong two-way abilities that he’s always been touted for, and his passing skill has been on display in setting up fellow youngsters like Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato around the net. Speaking of Donato and DeBrusk, each of those young wingers earmarked for the NHL roster has a couple of counts in two preseason appearances as well.

Zach Senyshyn may have come into camp slightly under the radar after a so-so debut season in Providence last season, but he deposited a couple of goals in Tuesday night’s preseason win over the Capitals in Washington.

Trent Frederic scored a goal in the first preseason game against the Calgary Flames in China, and has teamed with David Backes for a big, strong and physical crash and bang line to this point in the preseason as well. Jack Studnicka, Cameron Hughes and Axel Andersson have all cracked the score sheet as well, and big winger Peter Cehlarik had two assists during the two China games vs. Calgary as well.

So in a camp where a couple of young players could come away with NHL jobs if their preseason performances are up to snuff, the Black and Gold young guns have been that and then some to this point.

That’s great news for a Bruins team that’s become accustomed to young players breaking through over the last few years, but the bad news for all these talented youngsters is that it’s going to get tougher from here on out. With the China contingent and the Boston-bound B’s crew set to be reunited at the end of this week, the training camp competitiveness is about to ramp up a few notches. There’s also the simple fact that things get quicker, more physical and more intense as the preseason goes along, and the veteran players began to really fight for their spots.

It’s the natural rhythm of training camp, and it’s about to become a little more eye-opening for a kiddie corps that’s been great thus far in B’s camp.

“Every year players coming into training camp and whether you’re a third-year player, second-year player, there’s always competition and there’s always somebody pushing from underneath [the NHL level], or pushing on a [camp tryout],” said Sacco. “Every team has young players that are hoping to push through and leave their mark to get their opportunity to play in the NHL.

“Once you see more players with NHL experience start getting into the lineups, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge for those young players to maintain that level that they had early on in the preseason. The ones that do, then you quite frankly start looking at them more and giving them a longer look.”

That will be the million dollar question for each of these young guys. There are plenty of cautionary tales of guys that flashed early in Bruins training camps in the past, but then couldn’t maintain that performance once the lineups got a little closer to NHL ready toward the end of the preseason. But there are also players, like Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, on the current roster that just kept producing and performing as young talents that played their way into Boston’s NHL plans earlier than anybody could have projected when they were first drafted.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s another one of those guys in this Bruins training camp with so many of them off to a strong and promising start. 

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