Brad Marchand on the shootout whiff: 'You’ve got to have fun with it'

Brad Marchand on the shootout whiff: 'You’ve got to have fun with it'

PITTSBURGH – Brad Marchand is still on pace for 35 goals and 107 points and he’s one of the best players in the league, so his expression and his words don’t betray much of a lack of confidence. The 31-year-old winger has been through slumps and tough times before, and he’ll undoubtedly go through them again.

But Marchand also hopes that his empty net goal at the end of Thursday night’s win over the Penguins represents an escape from a current slump that’s seen him score just three goals since the beginning of December. And so does his head coach.

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“I think he’s fighting it and he’d be the first to admit it. The puck is not cooperating with like he’d like it to, and that’s aside from the [missed] shootout. That’s in general,” said Bruce Cassidy. “When he’s in all alone the pucks are bounding when he thinks they are going to be flat and that can get on your nerves a little bit. You think you’ve got to flatten a puck when it’s already flat and there goes your time and space.

“Every player can have those moments, especially when you are handling the puck a lot. But he’s looked good [the last few days] and hopefully that translates.”

It has also seen him tweet out a self-aware message that he’s searching for a pair of “hands that have either been lost or stolen” and hopes they be returned to TD Garden.

“You’ve got to have fun with it. I’m not happy with missing a breakaway and missing a shootout, especially with the game on the line,” said Marchand. “But [expletive] happens. We’re in the middle of January. We’re not in the playoffs or anything like that. We’re in a good position as a team and one of the top teams in the league right now.”

Given that the offensive downturn has also included Marchand completely whiffing on a shootout attempt earlier this week as well in a loss to the Flyers, he felt it was about time that he poked a little fun at himself.

“It just hasn’t gone in. That stuff happens. There was a stretch there where I was having bad games and the puck was still finding the back of the net, so it all evens itself out. It’s been a while since I had a stretch like this, but it happens, and it happens to everybody.

“You just play through it. There are other areas of the game you can focus on and play well. It’s nice to get one to up the confidence a little bit, but it’s going to come. I play with too good players and get put into too many good opportunities for it to not [come], so it’s just a matter of time.”

Now that the Bruins have won a game they played well in against the Penguins, Marchand felt like he could open up a little bit more about his mindset in the immediate aftermath of completely fanning on his shootout attempt. Given who he is within the world of the NHL, he knew he was going to hear about it and he absolutely did.

But he’s also looking at from the perspective of one of the best players in the world flubbing something on the ice. It happens from time to time even to the best ones, or the ones that opposing fan bases around the NHL are waiting to carve up.

“This stuff happens in hockey. [Connor] McDavid dumped the puck in the corner in a shootout and so did [John] Tavares,” said Marchand, who admitted he’s been battling some bumps and bruises that should get time to heal over the NHL All-Star break and bye week.

“They’re two of the best players in the league. Stuff happens to good players and you just battle through it. Not everybody is great every night. You need to laugh at yourself. I laugh at everybody else, so if you’re going to chirp people you need to take it and chirp yourself.

“Obviously everybody is looking for a reason to troll. Keyboard heroes or warriors, or whatever you want to call them. That’s part of it. They feel like they pay us to chirp us. It’s going to come.

"I can laugh at it too. It’s not a huge deal and it’s the same as if I just went down and missed it. It’s the same result. You just look at it in that context, and by the way my penalty shots have been going that’s what was going to happen either way. We have such short careers that you need to enjoy every day whether it’s a good or a bad day.”

Given that Marchand is talking about and snapped out of his scoreless stretch with the empty netter earlier this week, it stands to reason that the offense is going to return in pretty short order as well.

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

BOSTON – Sometimes a team plays with renewed energy and vigor in the first game with new players added after the NHL trade deadline.

And sometimes a team lays an egg despite the addition of new trade pieces as everybody searches for the right fit while moving on from the players dealt away ahead of the very same deadline. 

The Bruins were much more the former when they played a flat, “sleepy” game that ended with a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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It was the second loss in a row for a team that on Saturday night provided very little resistance in a rudderless, 9-3 blowout at the hands of the Canucks and left their coach wholly unimpressed after the loss to the Flames.

“[It was] clearly not good enough. I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. [Some guys] didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like,” said Bruce Cassidy, right out of the gate after a game where the Bruins never held the lead. “I’m sure there was effort [and that] they were trying. They were just in-between, couldn’t execute or whatever. At the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

Certainly, those direct words from Cassidy aren’t meant to be a pretty pointed message to the passengers on a  Bruins team that had just watched Danton Heinen get shipped off 24 hours prior to the Calgary game.

The Bruins coach could have pointed out plenty of things that were lacking, whether it was the rare, poor overall game from the Perfection Line aside from Brad Marchand’s shorthanded goal, or the lack of resistance from too many good players when Calgary scored the back-breaking fourth goal in the third period. 

On that one, David Krejci didn’t do enough on the back-check, Tuukka Rask left the five-hole wide open for Mikael Backlund and David Pastrnak never really got things going as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Surely, the just-concluded trip to Western Canada could be used as a travel-weary excuse by the Black and Gold, but those excuses should be pushed by the wayside for a team with big-time Stanley Cup playoff aspirations.

“We weren’t at our best for sure. We didn’t have it all the way through the game. We were a little sleepy, I guess, at times,” said Marchand, whose shorthanded tally tied it in at 1 in the second period before two more second-period Flames goals allowed Calgary to pull away. “It wasn’t our normal, upbeat, high-energy game, but it’s going to happen during an 82-game schedule. You’re not going to be perfect and unfortunately, we didn’t get this one.”

The Bruins will quickly dust off that performance, be happy that the Tampa Bay Lightning also lost so they stay five points behind Boston in the Atlantic Division and instead focus on getting the intensity back against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.


Bruins-Flames Talking Points: B's return home with a thud in 5-2 loss

Bruins-Flames Talking Points: B's return home with a thud in 5-2 loss

GOLD STAR: Mikael Backlund was heavily involved for the Calgary Flames whether it was on the negative end on Brad Marchand’s shorthanded goal or his two goals in the third period that pushed the game out of reach for Boston. 

It was Backlund that threw a puck off the boards to move around Torey Krug while springing himself free for a breakaway before throwing a five-hole attempt through Tuukka Rask for the back-breaking insurance strike.

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Backlund then added insult to injury with an empty-netter to give him two goals on the night, a three-point performance and a plus-2 rating in 18:14 of ice time. Backlund finished with three shot attempts, one hit and two takeaways along with taking 25 draws in the Flames' win.

BLACK EYE: David Krejci might have been one of the players that Bruce Cassidy wasn’t exactly enamored with after the loss after his disinterested back-check on the back-breaking fourth Calgary goal in the third period. Krejci finished a minus-2 with just one shot on net in 16:23 of ice time and forced Cassidy to switch up the left wingers when it was clear both Krejci and Jake DeBrusk weren’t getting it going.

It’s perhaps understandable in the first home game after a long road trip through Western Canada, but it still merits mention that No. 46 wasn’t very good for the Black and Gold. He wasn’t alone, but that minimal effort on a big play in the game was notable.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins brought a little energy into their game when Marchand scored a shorthanded goal in the second period to tie things up at 1, but at that point, the wagon wheels fell off. 

Calgary scored with Boston’s best defensive players on the ice three minutes later when Johnny Gaudreau knifed through the middle of the defense before dishing to Sean Monahan for the one-timer from the high slot. Then the Bruins took a roughing call when Matt Grzelcyk stood up for Charlie McAvoy and five seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Boston net to essentially put things out of reach. 

The Bruins allowed 13 shots to Calgary in the second period and never truly regained control of the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Wagner was one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins and the fourth line was undoubtedly the best one for the B's Tuesday night. Wagner scored a third-period goal while on his belly as he shoveled a puck into the net on a mad scramble in front as the fourth line was grinding away. 

Wagner had a couple of other potential scoring chances in the game that he wasn’t able to capitalize on, but he finished with the one goal in 14:52 of ice time, two shots on net, three shot attempts, a hit, a takeaway and 4-for-8 from the face-off circle in an excellent effort.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of regulation losses at TD Garden for Tuukka Rask after finally losing one to Calgary while letting up four goals on 30 shots.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Some guys came to play, and some guys…didn’t. They didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like.” –Bruce Cassidy, clearly not loving the flat effort from the B’s.