Bruins

Haggerty's Talking Points: Brad Marchand sparks Bruins in win over Leafs

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Haggerty's Talking Points: Brad Marchand sparks Bruins in win over Leafs

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand finished with a Player of the Game trophy that he took a lap around the ice showing the Maple Leafs fans. It was a well-deserved honor from Lanny McDonald as part of the Hall of Fame game.

Marchand finished with a pair of goals in the third period to power the Bruins to victory and was dominant overall with seven shots on net and nine shot attempts in 18:18 of ice time. Both goals were good, strong and hard plays from Marchand where he fired an initial shot at the net and then followed his shot before popping the loose puck past Freddie Andersen. It continues a longstanding string of dominance for the Bruins' top line against the Maple Leafs, and that played out true to form again on Friday. It was also key to snapping Boston’s four-game losing streak.

BLACK EYE: Jason Spezza continues to struggle for the Maple Leafs. He missed an open net in the first period that could have pushed the Leafs out to an early lead. Instead, he missed wide and seconds later that turned into the first goal of the game for Charlie Coyle.

Spezza finished a minus-2 in 12:02 of ice time with a couple of shots on net, but doesn’t really bring much to the team if he can’t bury the offensive chances when they present themselves as they did early for the veteran. When you’re talking about a player that’s got one goal in 10 games and has been a minus player this season, that all spells trouble for him to continue garnering playing time for Toronto.

TURNING POINT: After a dreadful third period against Florida earlier this week, the Bruins turned it all around and had themselves a strong 20 minutes to close out Friday night after a “meh” second period.

The B’s outshot the Leafs 15-7 in that final period and Brad Marchand scored a pair of goals to push Boston ahead before Zdeno Chara cinched it in the final couple of minutes with an empty net goal. It was almost a 180 degree turn from the four goals that the B’s coughed up just a couple of days ago against the Panthers, and it perhaps showed that the Bruins are getting their mojo back after their game got out of focus for a couple of days.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara earned his empty net goal at the very end of the game with the way he defended throughout along with partner Charlie McAvoy. Chara finished with five blocked shots in a team-high 24:04 of ice time and did an excellent job of keeping things from getting too chaotic in the defensive zone while Toronto’s top line clearly had some pretty good jump.

Chara finished with three shot attempts, two hits and the five blocked shots and was one of Boston’s best players in a game where the B’s needed to get back to defensive basics. Chara and McAvoy blocked an amazing 12 combined shots in the victory, which shows just how hard Boston had to work for the two points.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 – the number of combined blocked shots for Charlie McAvoy (seven) and Zdeno Chara (five) as the two top D-men certainly paid the physical price to help earn the win for the Black and Gold.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good win to come in here and beat that team. Definitely a good game for us." –Brad Marchand on snapping the four game losing streak with the 4-2 victory over the Maple Leafs.

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Talking Points: Torey Krug steps up the physicality, shows leadership in Bruins win

Talking Points: Torey Krug steps up the physicality, shows leadership in Bruins win

GOLD STAR: He didn’t factor in the scoring at all, but credit Torey Krug as one of the Bruins leaders that stepped up and showed some attitude in a needed win over the Penguins.

It was Krug that got into a shoving match with Patric Hornqvist in front of the bench, and then continued it with a hockey fight after they both got out of the penalty box.

Krug finished with six shot attempts and a takeaway in 16:06 of ice time, but it was really a team-wide showing of physicality and attitude that elevated the game of the Bruins and got them back into the winning flow against Pittsburgh. Krug was one of the key guys that got them there even as he was an unlikely 5-foot-8 combatant that won his bout with the sandpaper-playing Hornqvist.

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BLACK EYE: Evgeni Malkin was pretty invisible for the Penguins in this one. He was challenged early and often by Zdeno Chara in the game and that seemed to render him pretty ineffective after that point against the Bruins.

Malkin finished pointless with a minus-2 rating and had a whopping three giveaways over his 19:21 of ice time. It was a harmless little swipe at Jaroslav Halak in the first period that really started setting things off as Chara grabbed Malkin and roughed him up in the corner afterward. That started the two big-bodied players going at each other for the better part of the evening.

Most times Malkin is going to lose that battle as he did on Thursday night.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins fell down by a 1-0 score early in the game as Sidney Crosby scored in the opening minute, and that could have been a big time problem on another night. But the Bruins were determined to make this a prolonged, invested all-around effort right from the drop of the puck. They did exactly that when they fought back to tie the game, and then go ahead by a goal when Par Lindholm redirected a Karson Kuhlman pass down low.

The Bruins outshot the Penguins 12-10 in the period and overcame the early deficit with some hard-nosed, determined physical play and some digging in by their bottom two lines coming up with a couple of goals in the secondary scoring department. Once they did that they had the momentum on their side.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak had been struggling a little bit of late, but he pulled together after allowing a bad goal in the first period to the Penguins.

Halak stopped 29-of-30 shots and was brilliant at the end of the second period when the Penguins went on a 2-on-none shorthanded breakaway with Halak making four different saves to keep Pittsburgh from tying up the game. He stoned Zach Aston-Reese at least four different times with point blank chances from the front of the net and never buckled even as the B’s broke down just a little bit.

Halak's performance is a good sign that he is going to backstop the B’s to some good things as he’ll be given the starting nod for a few games in a row with Rask (concussion) on the shelf right now.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of registered hits for Chris Wagner on the stat sheet, which is kind of ridiculous given that the fourth line winger threw at least four or five of them in a tremendously physical game against the Penguins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought tonight was a pretty good first step to getting back to who we are.” –Bruce Cassidy on the B’s overall effort in a 4-1 win over the Penguins.

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

Arguably the most explosive talent in the NHL resides at the right wing position where the top two players (David Pastrnak and Patrick Kane) are on pace to easily cross 40 goals and 100 points this season, and the third player is last year’s Hart Trophy winner.

There’s also the amazing young talent at the NHL’s right wing spot with players under 25 years old that include Pastrnak, Brock Boeser, Andrei Svechnikov, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Travis Konecny.

In other words, this is a stacked list that doesn’t even include Patrick Laine. These are the top-10 right wings in the NHL right now.

Click here for Joe Haggerty's full right wing rankings