Bruins

Marchand on verge of return, aiming to not miss any more games

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Marchand on verge of return, aiming to not miss any more games

BRIGHTON, Mass – Brad Marchand is on the verge of a return to the Bruins lineup, and once he wants to be back in for good.

The 29-year-old Marchand ditched the maroon no-contact jersey for Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and both he and David Backes are now game-time decisions for Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Marchand has missed eight of Boston’s last 10 games with what many believe are both upper and lower body injuries, and he's excited to be pushing back into the lineup as David Krejci (back) and Jake DeBrusk (upper body) join the long list of injured players on the sidelines.

Marchand’s goal now is to stay among the healthy and productive once he gets back in, whether it’s against the Lightning now or versus the Flyers this weekend.  

“I’ve felt good the last couple of days, so we’ll see. It would be good to stay in consistently,” said Marchand. “Obviously things happen, but the goal is to stay in the lineup for the rest of the year without missing any games. It’s not always in our control, but I feel good and hopefully I can stay in for a while.

“It’s tough. Every team goes through it [with the injuries] and you just have to battle through it. The guys have done a really good job of that winning four of the last five. It’s good to see that guys are really stepping up, but we have to continue to find ways to win. You need to battle through it and at the end of the year it will make you a better team.”

Marchand was skating with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak in practice as the Bruins were once again loading up on a top offensive line, and Bruce Cassidy indicated that the team’s morale will be as good, or as challenged, as their won-loss record will allow it to be.   

“I think our play has dictated that. If we win then we stay positive, and if we don’t then you get more down on yourself. Lately it’s been a lot more positive than negative even though we didn’t bring it on Sunday [against the Oilers],” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll get a bounce-back opportunity [on Thursday] against a really good team, so the focus stays on the 20 guys in the lineup. Some other guys get a chance to play, so they get excited about it and guys returning [from injury] have a little jump in their step. You just try to put a game plan together that suits the group without getting away from our game plan too much.”

Clearly the B’s will welcome back No. 63 as soon as he’s able to return given the gaudy offensive pace he’s on for 42 goals and 79 points, and the fact he contributes in all situations as one of the most important players on the entire roster. The mere presence of Marchand back on the ice will be a morale booster for the Black and Gold even if they’re missing large portions of their forward group due to the injuries. 

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Rangers hire David Quinn away from BU as new head coach

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Rangers hire David Quinn away from BU as new head coach

In what is becoming a growing trend, a National Hockey League team has dipped into the collegiate ranks to find its next head coach. After a successful five-year stint as Jack Parker’s successor at Boston University, David Quinn has been named the 35th coach of the New York Rangers.

Quinn reportedly received a five-year contract to oversee a plan to reload the Blueshirts roster.

In that respect Quinn is perhaps the perfect choice for the Rangers -- a young, enthusiastic coach that excels in the teaching aspect of the game with young player. He posted a 105-67-21 record in his five seasons with the Terriers while developing young NHL talent like Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Clayton Keller. Quinn didn’t win a national title at Boston University but did finish as college hockey’s runner-up in his second season, losing to Providence College in the 2015 NCAA title game.

Leaving BU for New York had to be a difficult choice for the 51-year-old Cranston, R.I., native, given that the BU job probably could have been a lifetime gig (as it was for the legendary Parker before him). But there were certainly things about the Rangers job that Quinn couldn’t pass up, among them the prestige of coaching an Original Six team and also where familiar faces like Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury are part of the management team. Being able to compete head-to-head against his good friend Mike Sullivan, the coach of the Penguins, certainly didn’t hurt either.

Quinn expressed all of those mixed emotions in a statement released by BU when New York made his hiring official on Tuesday.

“I’m incredibly excited for this new challenge, but leaving a job like this is very hard to do,” he said. “BU is a special place that has given me so much, not only as a player and a student, but also as a coach. The lifelong friendships I’ve developed here over the years absolutely mean the world to me.

“I was so fortunate to work with the very best in athletic director Drew Marrochello and senior vice president Todd Klipp. BU hockey has always been bigger than the coach and they will bring in an outstanding one to continue the winning tradition here.”

Quinn is the latest in a new movement by NHL teams to pluck their coaches from the college ranks, which is producing so many quality players these days. The Flyers kicked it off in hiring Dave Hakstol away from the University of North Dakota a couple of years ago, and earlier this month the Dallas Stars hired Jim Montgomery away from the University of Denver after the Rangers initially showed interest.

It will be interesting to see where Boston University goes next. The Terriers have a wide swath of hockey-playing alumni to choose from, and people like Bruins assistant coaches Joe Sacco and Jay Pandolfo could also be candidates list if they wanted a college job.

Morning Skate: Look for Lightning strike in Game 7

Morning Skate: Look for Lightning strike in Game 7

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while we’re almost ready for Stanley Cup Final time.

*Who is going to step up in Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final? Put my money on Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Bolts, but don’t sleep on Brayden Point either. That dude has been awesome in this postseason for Tampa Bay. Make sure to check out all the action tonight (8 p.m.) on NBCSN where Game 7’s are treated with the proper gravitas and import.

*Interesting piece from Pittsburgh columnist Ron Cook, who says part of Pittsburgh’s downfall this spring had to do with a “sour relationship” between Phil Kessel and Mike Sullivan. Is Phil Kessel becoming a problem in an NHL dressing room? This is me with my “not shocked” face.

*Pierre Lebrun talks with TSN 1040 out in Vancouver about the Evander Kane contract extension with the San Jose Sharks, which is supposed to be in the seven-year, $49 million range. That is a massive gamble on a player that’s scored 30 goals once in a career where he’s underachieved most of the time. To put it in perspective, Kane will be getting paid $1 million more per season than a much better player in Boston in Brad Marchand. That’s the makings of a really, really bad contract in my humble opinion.

*PHT writer James O’Brien says that the Carolina Hurricanes trading Jeff Skinner would haunt the team, but it sure looks like the Canes are moving for a house-cleaning in Carolina.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Pothier out in Vegas says that all of the skepticism is gone when it comes to the Golden Knights acquiring Ryan Reaves after his big playoff moment.

*For something completely different: I’ve always wanted to see Mysterio on the big screen battling Spider-Man, and it looks like we will see that sooner rather than later as played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Sounds groovy to me.  

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