Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Lost in the big divisional games over the last few days for the Bruins against the Lightning and Maple Leafs was a small moment toward the end of Thursday’s shootout loss to the Bolts that could have meant an extra point for the B’s.

During the closing seconds of overtime, the Lightning had the Bruins scrambling in their own end and Brayden Point collected the puck along the sideboards after already putting up a couple of points in the game. Brad Marchand then opted to put Point in a headlock and lock down any chances of the Lightning ending the game ahead of the shootout with only a couple of seconds remaining in OT.

There was no penalty, and even if there had been there was really no downside to doing it since Marchand would have been free and clear to take part in the shootout, as he did, even if a minor penalty had been called on him. It was a smart hockey play from a smart hockey player that’s always looking for an edge and doesn’t mind going the outside-the-box route that includes throwing a headlock on the occasional opponent.

Obviously it didn’t work out as the Bruins ended up losing 4-3 to the Bolts in the shootout, but interestingly enough even Point was giving the habitually line-stepping Marchand credit for “a great play” after it was all over.

“I’m going for the puck, really it’s a great play,” said Point of Marchand, who has four goals and 12 points in eight games this season to go along with the one headlock. “There’s not much time, he breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that, so really it’s a good play.”

With a pair of points earned in the last couple of games, the Bruins have a few more big games this week against the Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It remains to be seen if No. 63 has any more “really good plays” in his bag of tricks after the savvy, on-brand headlock from Marchand during last week’s tangle with Tampa.

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Bruins 'Perfection Line' on pace for an absurd amount of points this season

Bruins 'Perfection Line' on pace for an absurd amount of points this season

The Bruins' first line, consisting of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, is on pace for an incredible amount of points after Boston's first eight games of the 2019-20 season. 

They've combined for 15 goals and 20 assists (35 points), which as Kevin Paul Dupont points out, puts them on pace for 359 points for the year. The trio totaled 260 points last season.

Pastrnak has been especially superb over the first eight games, scoring nine goals to go along with six assists. The young star has yet to cross the 50-goal mark in his career, and since he's currently on pace for 92 goals for the year, it's probably safe to pencil him in for 50 if he stays healthy. 

While the first line's production is something to get excited about if you're a Bruins fan, it also highlights the lack of production the B's are getting from everyone else. Anyone not named Pastrnak, Marchand or Bergeron wearing a Boston uniform this season has combined for 24 points over the first eight games. 

It's obviously too early to draw conclusions about the first line or the supporting cast. The Bruins are hoping for Jake DeBrusk to go on a run sooner or later, but if they continue to get next to nothing from everyone outside the Perfection Line, they might want to start looking to acquire some low-cost reinforcements before this hot start starts to fade away. 

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Plenty of encouraging developments for Bruins in OT loss to Maple Leafs

Plenty of encouraging developments for Bruins in OT loss to Maple Leafs

TORONTO – The Bruins ended up on the losing side of Saturday night’s Atlantic Division showdown even if they picked up the overtime point.

There’s some consolation they didn’t come away empty-handed in a showdown with the Maple Leafs and have come away with points in each of the last two games against Toronto and Tampa Bay though they haven’t won either of them.

But it’s also a clear indicator the Bruins have some things to work on that may have been masked a bit by their 5-1-0 start to the regular season when they didn’t face anybody of consequence outside of a road game in Las Vegas. The scoring imbalance, the looseness defensively and the inconsistency in focus, execution and effort from period to period have been problematic at times even as the B’s have jumped out to a pretty good start.

The good news in all of this is that they are starting to trend in the right direction. After mulling AHL call-ups and going through a six-game stretch where nobody outside of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins, the B’s finally received some secondary scoring outside of their Perfection Line.

Pastrnak still came up with the big goal late in the third period that pushed things to OT against Toronto in the 4-3 loss, and we could spend an entire column on the right-winger currently being on pace for 93 goals and 154 points this season.

But the Bruins also got goals from a couple of young forwards they need more from offensively in Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen, and that’s a development that will make the B’s a far better hockey club in the long run.

“It was nice. You don’t want to rely on the top guys every night. Obviously they’ve been on fire, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to chip in,” admitted Heinen, who scored his second goal of the season and his first since opening night in Dallas. “It was nice, but it would have been even better if it would have been a win.”

Even better, Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner and Brett Ritchie dented the score sheet for the Black and Gold as well and the B’s got offense from second and third lines that have been MIA this season.

“We definitely had more focus in those aspects,” said DeBrusk, of getting secondary scoring, improving their second-period play and getting more quality five-on-five play against Toronto. “It was talked about and everything wanted to pitch in. I think we put over 40 shots on them, so give their goaltender credit. He gave them a chance to win, but I definitely thought it was a better 5-on-5 game from our side compared to Tampa Bay.”

Other notable players like Charlie McAvoy and Karson Kuhlman still haven’t caught fire, and the B’s fourth line really struggled on Saturday night, but the hope is that things will turn for them as they did for DeBrusk against the Leafs.

The signs of offensive life will quell the talk of making a trade or promoting red-hot Anders Bjork at least in the short term, but it’s a trend that’s going to need to continue with the Bruins.

Another piece of encouragement from the overtime loss?

The Bruins played arguably their best second period on the young season after struggling for the middle 20 minutes for much of the year. The Bruins outshot the Leafs 15-3, controlled play and missed on two separate, wide-open scoring chances on the backdoor when both DeBrusk and Bergeron simply missed the net.

That essentially turned out to be the difference in a one-goal loss in overtime, but the improvement in an area that’s dogged them all year was pretty notable.

“I didn’t like that stretch [in the first period] where we just weren’t competitive enough,” admitted Cassidy. “We were trading chances a bit and it wasn’t going our way, so we need to be harder on the puck. In the O-zone I thought we were one and done, but then as the game went along in the second and third period I thought we were harder on it. It started with Coyle’s play [setting up the DeBrusk goal] where he controlled possession.”

On its face, the Bruins have lost two games in a row and come up a wee bit short in their measuring stick games against their immediate divisional rivals.

But there are arguably more things to be encouraged about in Saturday night’s loss to the Maple Leafs than during many of the empty calorie wins that the Bruins piled up in the season’s first couple of weeks against some of the NHL’s tomato cans.

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