Bruins

Bruins star Brad Marchand's latest accomplishment highlights his stellar consistency

Bruins star Brad Marchand's latest accomplishment highlights his stellar consistency

BOSTON -- It's easy to take Brad Marchand's scoring production for granted.

The Boston Bruins winger is one of the NHL's best offensive players, and his three assists in Wednesday night's 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens put him over the 70-point mark for the fourth consecutive season. Marchand is the ninth player in Bruins history to tally 70-plus points four seasons in a row.

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He did it in style, too. Marchand's 70th point came in the first period when he dangled past a Canadiens player with a highlight-reel move before dishing the puck to linemate David Pastrnak for the game's first goal.

"At first, I drove really hard backdoor to make it 2-on-2, but at some point I kind of gave up driving and stopped skating," Pastrnak said of Marchand's incredible effort. "I was like, 'there's no way he can make that play' -- two or three guys on his back. Great play by him. It was an easy play for me. We all know how good of a player he is, and how good of a playmaker he's become."

"He had lots of initiative," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Marchand. "The first goal, he did the majority of the work. (Pastrnak) went to the right place, of course, to finish, which he typically does. It’s like the other goal, Sean (Kuraly) did a lot of work — now, Pasta had great hands, allowed them to cut back, which we’ve seen lots of. But I agree with you, I think (Marchand) was dialed in today. Did a lot of things well, wanted to be a driver in the game for that line, and I thought he was."

Marchand entered the league as a pest playing a bottom-six role, and while being an agitator will always be a part of his game, his transformation into a consistent point-per-game scorer is quite impressive.

In 2016-17, he became the first Bruins player to tally more than 70 or more points in a season since Marc Savard's 88 in the 2008-09 campaign. Marchand finished 2016-17 with a career-high 85 points in 80 games, then followed it up with another 85 points in only 68 games the following season. Last season, the veteran winger became the first B's player to hit the 100-point mark since Joe Thornton in 2002-03. 

Marchand now has 72 points (23 goals, 49 assists) in 58 games this season. This puts him in sixth place on the league's scoring leaderboard. 

Here's a look at the league's top scorers since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Only four players have totaled more points than Marchand over that span.

1. Connor McDavid, Oilers: 405 points in 297 games
2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning: 383 points in 292 games
3. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks: 344 points in 301 games
4. Brad Marchand, Bruins: 342 points in 295 games
5. Leon Draisaitl, Oilers: 341 points in 298 games

Marchand benefits from playing alongside two other really talented offensive players in Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak. Bergeron has scored 20-plus goals seven years in a row, while Pastrnak currently leads the league in goals with 41. That said, Marchand's stats when he's not playing with Bergeron and Pastrnak are still pretty good. In 89:40 of ice time away from Pastrnak and 83:28 of ice time away from Bergeron at 5-on-5, Marchand has a goals-for percentage and a scoring chances-for percentage above 50, per Natural Stat Trick. So, the ice is tilted in Boston's favor regardless of who's on the ice with Marchand during 5-on-5 action.

The Bruins are the sixth-highest scoring team in the league and have the best line in hockey. They also own the league's best record and look every bit like a team ready to return to the Stanley Cup Final. Marchand's elite two-way play, highlighted by his consistent offensive production, is a huge reason why the Bruins are in a strong position as the final stretch of the regular season gets underway.

2020 NHL Playoffs: Ranking Bruins' potential first-round opponents

2020 NHL Playoffs: Ranking Bruins' potential first-round opponents

While the Bruins play a round robin against the other three best teams in the East to determine seeding, the Nos. 5-12 teams will be playing to see who makes it to the actual first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The teams and matchups are: 

  • Penguins (5) vs. Canadiens (12)
  • Hurricanes (6) vs. Rangers (11)
  • Islanders (7) vs. Panthers (10)
  • Maple Leafs (8) vs. Blue Jackets (9)

Given that we don't know whether the Bruins will be the No. 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed, it's possible they could play any of these teams in the first round. 

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Are any of them actually scary for the Bruins? Yes, even though none of them should be favored to actually beat Boston. Here's how I'd rank them: 

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (5)

3.20 G/G (10th), 2.84 GA/G (12th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-2-0

I'm not crying for the Penguins having to be here. They could have avoided this by not losing eight of their last 11 games.

Anyway, this is a tried-and-true group that added Jason Zucker and Patrick Marleau (among others; Connor Sheary was also brought back) at the trade deadline. Pittsburgh was clearly going for it this year, only to be run out of a top spot by the surging Flyers.

The Bruins blowing it in the round robin and getting Pittsburgh in the first round would be a worst-case scenario, even though my money would still be on Boston. 

2. New York Islanders (7)

2.78 G/G (22nd), 2.79 GA/G (9th)

2019 record vs. Bruins: 1-1-1

I'm going Islanders ahead of the Hurricanes because I have more faith in them reaching the field of eight based on their play-in matchup.

Scoring has been an issue for the Islanders all season, but after adding JG Pageau at the trade deadline, they're very strong down the middle (Matthew Barzal, Brock Nelson), which we've seen has been crucial for teams making playoff runs. 

3. Carolina Hurricanes (6)

3.19 G/G (11th), 2.84 GA/G (11th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 0-1-0

Yes, this team looked like a bunch of children in the Eastern Conference Final last year because they... weren't good enough to play in the Eastern Conference Final.

But the Hurricanes, who were fourth in the East in goal differential (better than the Penguins and Capitals), have momentum on their side. They were big players at the trade deadline, adding Vincent Trocheck up front and Sami Vatanen and Brady Skei on the back end, plus — and don't laugh here — Dougie Hamilton was pushing for the Norris before he got hurt this season.

He'll be healthy, making the Hurricanes a decent contender as long as they can get past a Rangers team that swept them in the regular season. 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (8)

3.39 G/G (3rd), 3.17 GA/G (26th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-2-0

Same old story. They can score a bunch and can't defend a lick. Mike Babcock's gone now, which they feel is a good thing, but this isn't the NFL.

You can't just have a great offense and nothing else. Even with the fits they've given the Bruins, I'll always have a hard time taking them seriously. 

5. New York Rangers (11)

3.33 G/G (5th), 3.14 GA/G (23rd)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 0-2-1

Offensive dynamo (and recent Bruins postseason nemesis) Artemi Panarin racked up 95 points in 69 games in the regular season. Mika Zibanejad was scoring like an absolute mad man (11 goals in six games!) prior to the shutdown.

Factor in that the Rangers opted to re-sign Chris Kreider rather than trade him at the deadline and you've got an offensively formidable group, but boy does that blue line stink.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

2.57 G/G (28th), 2.61 GA/G (3rd)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-0-0

Was it really Bobrovsky that had everyone all horny last year, or was it Torts and that defense? There sure is a case to be made for the latter, because Columbus was third in the league in goals against despite having people whose names I always have to look up (Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins) in net.

That second-round matchup was a toughie last year, but that team had Panarin. This one does not and it sucks offensively.

7. Florida Panthers (10)

3.30 G/G (6th), 3.25 GA/G (28th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-1-1

They have star power up front and played the Bruins close in the regular season (two of three meetings went to OT). Yet when they were on the bubble at the trade deadline, they shipped one-time 30-goal scorer Vincent Trocheck (who has either been hurt or underwhelming the last three seasons) to Carolina.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been a nightmare of a signing, posting a .900 save percentage after signing a seven-year deal with a $10 million AAV. He's 31!   

8. Montreal Canadiens (12)

2.93 G/G (19th), 3.10 GA/G (19th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-3-0

The uniform scares you, sure, but nothing else should. They sold at the deadline, lost 10 of their final 14 games and boast one of the most unspectacular rosters you'll ever see in a "playoff" game.

Also, the Bruins' margin of victory in their four matchups was 11 goals. The Habs have no business playing in this, which is why they probably won't be there long.   
 

This Date in Bruins History: B's beat Lightning in epic Game 7, reach Final

This Date in Bruins History: B's beat Lightning in epic Game 7, reach Final

May 27 is a great day in the history of the Boston Bruins.

The B's have played two games, and both were Stanley Cup Playoff victories.

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The first came in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final versus the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. No penalties were called -- it was just 60 minutes of exciting, physical and well-played hockey. After more than two-and-a-half periods of end-to-end action, the Bruins finally broke through the Lightning's 1-3-1 scheme and opened the scoring with a goal by Nathan Horton. David Krejci made a great pass to the front of the net, where Horton was ready with his stick blade on the ice ready to direct the puck into the net.

It was Horton's second Game 7-winning goal of the playoffs. He also eliminated the Montreal Canadiens with a goal in overtime of Game 7 in the first round. 

The victory over the Lightning gave the B's their first Stanley Cup Final berth since 1990. Boston went on to beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games for its first championship in 39 years. 

Speaking of the Stanley Cup Final, the other game in Bruins history played on May 27 was the series opener of the 2019 Cup Final. The St. Louis Blues jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period at TD Garden, but the Bruins stormed back with four unanswered goals to secure a 4-2 victory. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug's massive hit on Blues forward Rob Thomas in the third period was the most memorable play of the game.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Game 1 was their only win at home in the series, and they eventually lost the Cup Final with a Game 7 loss at the Garden.