Bruins

Talking Points: Marchand in the midst of it all

Talking Points: Marchand in the midst of it all

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand got things off and running with the Bruins, and was at his best after answering questions over the last couple of days about his lack of goals in the postseason. He scored the game’s first goal when he took a dish from Torey Krug on the PP and elevated a backhander over Frederik Andersen in close to the net, and then turned into the whirling dervish in the corner before dishing to David Pastrnak in the second period for the insurance goal that really put it out of reach for the Maple Leafs. In all Marchand finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 rating in 17:56 of ice time, six shot attempts and three hits along with a 4-for-6 performance in the face-off circle when Patrice Bergeron kept getting kicked out of the circle. Even better Marchand nuzzled up to Leo Komarov in front of the benches after giving him a smooch on the cheek in a regular season game in Boston earlier this season, and was at his agitating best with the hard-hitting Leafs forward. Marchand produced, he played in control and he agitated the crap out of the Leafs in a performance worthy of one of the best players in the league.

BLACK EYE: Nazem Kadri was the bozo for the night for the Maple Leafs. Not only did the Toronto forward fail to register a shot on net or do anything meaningful in the game, but he also compounded it by throwing a reckless, cheap shot hit on Tommy Wingels in the third period. Kadri was whacked with a five minute major for charging, a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for boarding, and launched from his skates while clearly targeting a vulnerable player in Wingels that was on his knees against the boards. It was a punk move to say the least, but it’s also one that looks like it might be carrying a hefty suspension right along with it. That would be a major blow to Toronto and would certainly fit Kadri with a pair of goat horns if the series gets away from the Leafs.

TURNING POINT: The big moment for the Bruins was killing a pair of second period Toronto power plays in a game that was still tied at 1-1, with Zdeno Chara in the box for the first penalty and then playing the full two minutes on the power play for the second one. Once the Bruins had effectively killed off those power plays, they crushed whatever momentum Toronto had built up and then went about scoring a couple more goals to start putting things out of reach. But it was still a 1-1 game in the second period and things very much hung in the balance when all of that pushed and tested the Bruins, and they showed they were up to the challenge in a resounding way. By the time the period was over, the B’s had outshot the Leafs by a 16-11 margin and had full control of the proceedings.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be David Pastrnak. He finished with a goal and three points, a plus-1 rating and 10 shot attempts in his 16:02 of ice time, and busted the game wide open with a couple different plays. First there was the goal in the second period on a wrist shot from the slot after he wasn’t able to score on the one-timer, and the Bruins top line had basically turned things into a shooting gallery against a weak Toronto defense. Even better was the rush toward the net that Frederik Andersen somehow stopped in the third period, but Sean Kuraly was able to bat home the insurance goal to ice the game in the final 20 minutes. Pastrnak had his ups and downs in last season’s first playoff experience, but he was ready to go on Thursday night for Game 1.

BY THE NUMBERS: 30-2-6 – the Bruins record this season when they score first against opponents, which again portended very good things in their big Game 1 win over Toronto.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We know we can play winning hockey in the third period. You’ve got to go out there and do it, but we’re comfortable in those games and we did it in the third.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the B’s ability to finish off the Leafs with a strong third period after holding a 3-1 lead.

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NHL rumors: Joe Thornton stays with Sharks despite Bruins trade interest

NHL rumors: Joe Thornton stays with Sharks despite Bruins trade interest

UPDATE (3:10 p.m. ET): Joe Thornton isn't going to a contender, after all.

The San Jose Sharks declined to move the veteran forward ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline, per TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

Thornton reportedly had interest from several teams -- including his former club, the Boston Bruins -- ahead of the deadline.

-- End of update --

The Boston Bruins have hours remaining to make a deal before Monday's 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.

And a reunion with Joe Thornton seemingly is still on the table.

According to Sportsnet's Eric Engels, the veteran San Jose Sharks winger remains on the Bruins' radar ahead of the deadline. But Engels reports there are other targets Boston covets more, although the club isn't willing to deal another first-round pick.

The Bruins already made a splash by acquiring winger Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks for a 2020 first-rounder and prospect Axel Andersson.

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Engels suggests general manager Don Sweeney and Co. have another move to make, however.

Our Joe Haggerty laid out Boston's case to swing another trade Monday morning and also views Thornton as an intriguing option for the Bruins.

The 40-year-old forward spent his first eight seasons with the B's, and while he hasn't been very productive this season (27 points on four goals and 23 assists), he could provide valuable leadership for a deep Stanley Cup Playoff run.

The Bruins still have all of their future draft picks with the exception of their 2020 first- and fourth-rounders and intriguing prospects like Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen, so there's plenty in Sweeney's arsenal if he wants to improve the NHL's current best team before 3 p.m. ET.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NHL trade deadline. This Monday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

The Boston Bruins didn't upgrade their lineup in a profound way Monday by trading right winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for left winger Nick Ritchie, but the salary cap savings for the B's could be quite valuable.

Heinen is a better offensive player than Ritchie, even though he's been disappointing for Boston with 22 points in 58 games this season. Ritchie is a bottom-six player, but he will give the Bruins more size and toughness for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the most important aspect of this trade is how it gives the Bruins more financial flexibility. 

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Heinen is signed through the 2020-21 season with a salary cap hit of $2.8 million, per CapFriendly. Ritchie also is under contract through next season with a team-friendly $1,498,925 cap hit. So, the Bruins save about $1.3 million in salary cap space with this trade.

Why does the savings matter?

It gives Bruins general manager Don Sweeney additional room under the salary cap this summer to re-sign some of their free agents.

The Bruins are expected to have just under $24 million in cap space this offseason after the Ritchie trade. This is a pretty good amount of room under the cap, and it should be enough to address several of the team's most important free agents.

Here's a look at the top five Bruins players eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency on July 1.

1. Torey Krug, D, UFA
2. Zdeno Chara, D, UFA
3. Jake DeBrusk, LW, RFA
4. Jaroslav Halak, G, UFA
5. Matt Grzelcyk, D, RFA 

The most important free agent the Bruins have to consider re-signing is Krug. The 28-year-old veteran is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, and he's also one of the team's leaders and a fan favorite. Krug is tied for ninth in scoring among defensemen with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 55 games. His power play ability is also among the league's best. Krug has tallied 25 of his points with the man advantage, and the Bruins have had a top-four power play in the league over the past three seasons with him running the No. 1 unit.

It's possible that Krug's annual average salary in his next contract could hit $8 million or more, especially if he hits the open market. Krug and St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo are the top defensemen who could be unrestricted free agents this summer. However, Krug said in September that taking less money to remain in Boston is "something I'm interested in."

This Ritchie trade is unlikely to impact the Bruins in a significant manner on the ice for the rest of this season, but opening up more than $1 million in salary cap space definitely will help in the offseason. Every little bit of cap space helps, especially when you're a team like the Bruins constructing a roster to win the Stanley Cup in the short term.