Usual Suspects Once Again Favored According to the preseason Coaches Poll, the defending regular season ECAC champs Quinnipiac Bobcats are still the team to beat after garnering eight first-place votes. Meanwhile, the media favor last year’s postseason champion Harvard Crimson to win it all. Whoever you believe, the ECAC will still come down to the usual suspects, Quinnipiac, Harvard, Clarkson Golden… Continue reading 2022-23 ECAC Preview
Boston takes the lead with a balanced attack and never looks back. Boston, MA- It took six starts, but the Boston Bruins finally scored the first goal of the game in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes, and they held on for a solid 5-2 win to force a do or die game seven match in… Continue reading Bruins Strike First, Force Game Seven
Winger also is the straw that stirs the drink for Bruins.
The factors for the Boston Bruins evening up their best-of-seven series against the Carolina Hurricanes are multiple. The biggest one is the play of Boston’s agitator-in-chief, Brad Marchand. Over the weekend, the 5′-9″ winger upped his game dramatically in the Bruins’ two series-tying victories in Boston. Marchand’s numbers in games one and two in Raleigh, NC, were not on par with his usual production. He had one assist and mustered only five shots on goal during the two losses to open the series.
His numbers at TD Garden in games three and four were off the charts. Eight points (three goals and five assists) and eight shots. During game two on Sunday, a 5-2 win, Marchand factored into all five Bruins’ goals.
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Marchand is the engine that drives the Bruins. The Bruins thrive when he gets under the opponents’ skin while keeping his cool. In Carolina Marchand was stymied by the smothering play of Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast, and Nino Niederreiter. Marchand’s frustration was evident in game two when Hurricanes back-up netminder Pyotr Kochetkov slashed him in the second period. Marchand flinched as if he was going to retaliate with a two-handed slash but held back, only to follow through after a shove by Kochetkov.
“He’s got a letter on his sweater for a reason,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s a battler, a competitive guy his whole life, he’s not going to get down too long. It’s the time of year he loves to play. He’s shown that.”
“You now have some animosity, we’re in game three or four,” added Cassidy. “there’s some chirping going on now too and that can elevate his game.”
Back in Boston, it was Marchand doing the provoking. He drew Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo off of his game in game four. After the buzzer sounded to end the first period in game four, the two exchanged pleasantries where Marchand called DeAngelo a racist. DeAngelo has a history going back to his OHL days and his time with the New York Rangers.
“It wasn’t much of an exchange,” said Marchand when asked about it. “I didn’t even know he was around me. Kind of came out of nowhere. There really wasn’t much of one…Just saying, “Hey, how’s your Mother’s Day?”
“It’s bright lights time and I think Marshy has always been pretty good with that.”
Marchand admitted after game three that his play hadn’t been where it needed to be.
“It’s the most I’ve felt engaged,” said the Bruins’ assistant captain. “It got to be a little while since I felt that into a game. I think the importance of the situation we’re in hit us all.”
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Carolina had the advantage of putting the trio of Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast, and Nino Niederreiter on the re-united “Perfection Line” of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. Carolina’s trio kept the Bruins’ trio scoreless, save for Bergeron’s power-play goal in game three.
Cassidy was able to keep his charges away from that setup at home, and it paid off as the “Perfection Line” rattled off a combined 16 points at TD Garden.
“Staal’s line is a very dominant, defensive line, very hard on forechecks,” said Marchand. “They’re big so they cover a lot of space in the d-zone and the neutral zone and they compete. They’re very good on face-offs as well so you don’t always get as many opportunities off of that. Kind of a strength of our group.”
“That’s playoffs, it’s a chess match, that’s the advantages of being at home versus being on the road,” added Marchand. “That’s a very good line, they’ve been great in this series so far. Those are the types of players that take you deep in the playoffs.”
The Marchand line primarily went up against Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Seth Jarvis in game three. Game four was a majority of Aho, Svechnikov, and Staal as line-ups shuffled due to power-plays, penalty kills, and in-game changes.
Marchand’s Ice TIme Versus Staal line in Games 1-4
Staal 12:04 Fast 11:18 Niederreiter 11:58
Staal 11:49 Fast 10:07 Niederreiter 10:40
Staal 5:43 Fast 2:34 Niederreiter 2:34
Staal 9:13 Fast 3:49 Niederreiter 3:31
“It will be an in-game decision,” said Cassidy about splitting up the Marchand line again before game five. “We’re down to the best two-out-of-three. We’ll do whatever we think is right in-game to get back on track. That was the reason for it, late in game two, whenever we switched back. We needed some offensive momentum, those two guys could benefit from seeing each other, Marchand and Pastrnak, and I think they have.”
“We’ll see. A lot is made up of the match-up,” added Cassidy. “They (Carolina) will obviously control that for the most part. We scored a couple of goals off of face-offs the other day. Sometimes an icing can take you out of your match-up too, so there’s a little bit of that that we’ll keep an eye on.”
“At the end of the day, those guys have played against all the best in the NHL,” continued Cassidy. “Yes, it’s a challenge for them, but they’ve also been through these series. That’s what they’re up against.”
The Bruins will need to steal one in Carolina if they plan on advancing from this series.
Boston evens series vs. Hurricanes 2-2 in Sunday matinee. Boston, MA – The Boston Bruins had four goal scorers for the second straight game as they outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in front of 17,850 at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. Brad Marchand’s two third period goals and Jeremy Swayman’s 24 saves on the day highlighted the Bruins’ effort to tie the series with the Hurricanes… Continue reading Bruins Top Carolina 5-2 to Win Two Straight
Boston cuts series deficit to 2-1 in win over Carolina. Boston, MA – A raucous sellout TD Garden crowd was just what the slumping Boston Bruins needed to get back into their series against the Carolina Hurricanes. 17,850 black and gold-clad fans witnessed a return to form for the Bruins as they put together a solid… Continue reading Bruins Double Up Hurricanes 4-2
Milestone Night At TD Garden for Multiple Bruins. Boston, MA – Patrice Bergeron‘s hat-trick book-ended the Boston Bruins’ 5-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. On what turned out to be a historic night at TD Garden, the 17,850 in attendance witnessed the Bruins’ captain’s eighth career hatty and David Pastrnak‘s 40th goal of the season,… Continue reading Bergeron Hat-Trick Lifts Bruins to 5-0 Win
Healthy Line-Up Gets the Win in Saturday Matinee. Boston, MA – The return of David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm, and Linus Ullmark sparked the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Pastrnak’s goal and assist, coupled with Ullmark’s 30 save performance, helped the Bruins break the 100-point plateau for the season. “A lot. This time… Continue reading Bruins Edge Rangers 3-1
Two quick goals give Boston all they need versus the Penguins Boston, MA – The Boston Bruins ended a three-game skid with a solid 2-1, sixty-minute effort over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins punched their post-season ticket on the strength of two first-period goals that came just over two minutes into the… Continue reading Bruins Strike Early, Hold On for 2-1 Win
The Boston Bruins‘ recent stretch has been a minor cause for alarm as the injuries and losses mount. It’s not that they are losing so much as it is how they are losing. Boston has given up three straight second-period leads during this current three-game losing streak, their longest season. The Bruins have eight regular-season… Continue reading The Struggle Is Real
Young Senators Squad Scores Three Unanswered in Second Period for 3-2 Win
Boston, MA – A pair of second-period penalties led to the Boston Bruins squandering a 2-1 lead for the second straight game. The visiting Ottawa Senators took advantage of a five-on-three, and with the remaining five-on-four, they beat the Bruins 3-2 in front of 17,850 at TD Garden. Boston has dropped three straight and four of five.
The Senators controlled the action early in the game, but Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark was getting in front of everything Ottawa put on goal. Ullmark had three or four quality stops in the opening two minutes before the Bruins found their footing. Unfortunately for Boston, one of Ullmark’s saves was with his head. The 6′-4″ Swede took an Erik Brannstrom slapshot from the top of the left circle to the helmet early in the game. Ullmark elected to play on after a brief consultation with the Bruins’ training staff.
Boston forward Marc McLaughlin continued his shot streak by netting his third goal in six games since signing out of Boston College. The forward from Billerica, Massachusetts gave the Bruins the lead at 6:36 of the first when he redirected a Nick Foligno shot past Senators goalie Anton Forsberg (40 saves).
Jesper Froden potted his first NHL goal at 19:01 when he tipped a Matt Grzelcyk shot from the blue line past Forsberg to give the Bruins the 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.
“I tried to stay in front of the net, battle for the puck,” said Froden of his goal. “I lost my glove and I was thinking should I change or should I stay? Then I saw that the D got the puck and I just tried to be in the lane and tip the puck there. It went in and it was an amazing feeling.”
“I tried to come in and bring the energy to the guys, skate a lot, and battle,” added Froden of his first game with Boston in over a month and sixth of the season.
Ullmark turned back eight Senators shots during the first period but couldn’t come back out for the second before calling it a night during the first intermission.
Ottawa was 2-14-2 when trailing after the first period coming into the game, while the Bruins were 25-4-1 when leading after one. However, the Senators took advantage of a cold Jeremy Swayman (21 saves) just forty-seven ticks into the middle frame when Brady Tkachuk bounced a shot from behind the goal line off Swayman’s backside, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The Bruins fell victim to the opposing team’s power-play for the second straight game. Tkachuk drew a High-Sticking call on Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly at 8:39. Patrice Bergeron went to the penalty box for Hooking at 8:46, which led to the Senators’ five-on-three power play.
The Senators capitalized on the five-on-three at 9:30 when centerman Josh Norris blasted a one-timer past Swayman from the top of the right circle. Drake Batherson and Tim Stützle assisted on Norris’ 33rd.
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Fifty-seven seconds later, the Senators had the lead for good when Stützle banged in a loose puck in front of Swayman for his 18th. Batherson and Tkachuk assisted on the go-ahead power-play goal.
“I don’t know if it’s fatigue or lack of urgency. It’s tough to see,” said Bruins defenseman Grzelcyk of the second-period struggles. “The two penalties, they capitalize on both. We have to put out the fire there, but it’s something we have to address.”
“They (Ottawa) made a lot of good plays. They got to run the plays they wanted to, went through Stützle a lot,” said Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s a dangerous player, and made some good plays. We were a little late with our assignments. That five-on-three was a good shot (by Norris); give credit for executing. What they did a lot better than us was hit the net quick with their plays. They hit the net.”
In the third, the Bruins controlled the early action, but Forsberg’s play and a continuation of the penalties kept the Bruins from establishing consistent pressure on Ottawa. Swayman turned back two Connor Brown breakaway bids to keep the Bruins within striking distance.
Credit the Senators, who, despite being 27-40-6 and in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, lock down the win when leading after two periods. Ottawa is now 21-1-2 when leading after two.
Boston has struggled without David Pastrnak on the power play. The team’s leading scorer has been out of the last five games due to a core injury. Meanwhile, a patchwork defense has been inadequate as Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, and Hampus Lindholm have all missed time over the last few games.
“Losing Pasta and his shot, teams know how good he is over there,” Grzelcyk said of the power-plays lack of success. “A lot of times they take him away, and we kind of play four-on-three from there so we lose a little bit of that.”
“They’re doing a great job,” said Grzelcyk when asked about McLaughlin and Froden contributing to the cause. “They both work really hard. They’re not the biggest guys but they’re both fast and smart hockey players. It’s really impressive with them both stepping into the lineup.”
The Bruins will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at 12:30 pm EST at TD Garden.