Marchand gets game on track
After a rough October, the Boston Bruins appear to have turned a corner. With the Bruins having opened November with a five-game points streak, left wing Brad Marchand is hoping for the same.
It looked like Marchand was picking up right where he left off from a strong first full season in the NHL last year, with two goals and four points in his first five games. Then the drought hit — no points in six games. In two matchups against the Montreal Canadiens at the end of October, Marchand was limited to one shot on goal.
He finally got on the scoresheet Nov. 1, recording an assist against the Ottawa Senators. He repeated that in the Bruins' next two outings before finally snapping his goal-less streak with a pair against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and then a goal and two assists in Saturday's 6-2 win over Buffalo for his first three-point regular-season game since Feb. 3 against the Dallas Stars.
"I think the big thing was keep it a little more simple and getting pucks to the net," Marchand told reporters. "I was getting a lot of opportunities and they just weren't going in. And if you keep pushing and keep getting opportunities then eventually something is going to go in and that's what happened."
Often, players will try to overcompensate and do more than they need to in an attempt to pull themselves out of a funk. Marchand's game is fairly straightforward, relying on his speed, his shot and his knack for getting under an opponent's skin.
"Sometimes guys try and do a little too much and they try to get a little too fancy, and it doesn't suit their game, and that's Brad in a nutshell," coach Claude Julien said. "He just has to play hard and use his speed to take pucks to the net and shoot it."
"I don't want to change my game," Marchand said. "I don't want to change how I play. It's a little tougher getting in guys' faces. The refs are watching me very closely, but for the most part I just want to play the same way."
Marchand was doing his part during his drought as hard work in the corners and in front of the net led to points for linemates Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron. But when one's own chances don't translate into goals, frustration can set in and motivation can sometimes be tough.
Still only 23 and in just his second full season in the league, the pesky forward got a welcome push from his coach.
"He said, ‘It's going to be a tough year to get 20 (goals) again.' It was kind of a kick in the butt," Marchand said of a chat he had with Julien earlier in the week. "So it was nice to get a couple, but it's still very early in the year."
A year both he and his teammates hope is back on track for good.
Northeast Division notes
Already missing Andrei Markov, Chris Campoli, Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri, the Canadiens got a scare on Thursday when top center Tomas Plekanec fell into the boards in the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes and took some time to get up. He missed the rest of the period but returned for the second, showing no signs of injury. The Canadiens' leading scorer added to his totals with an assist on Montreal's second goal and had 14 points in 16 games after playing 22:07 in Saturday's 2-1 overtime win at Nashville. . . . The Senators suffered a big blow when captain Daniel Alfredsson sustained a concussion Oct. 29 against the Rangers. He returned Friday to face the Sabres, and while it extended Ottawa's skid to five games, his presence is an extra boost ahead of a trip out west. "That gives you a second line the other team has to respect," coach Paul MacLean told the team's website. "Obviously, there's the leadership and everything else he does. But for us right now, a little shot in the arm offensively would be a real good thing." The Senators snapped their skid with a 5-2 win in Toronto on Saturday, getting 31 saves from Craig Anderson, who was pulled two minutes into the previous night's loss in Buffalo. . . . In his second full season with the Maple Leafs, defenseman Dion Phaneuf is showing exactly why Brian Burke made a deal with the Flames to get him. Phaneuf's 12 points ranked among the top 10 blue-liners in the league, along with his 26:05 of average ice time heading into Saturday's action. . . . Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is working out some kinks in his game through the early goings of the season. He and blue line partner Andrej Sekera were minus-3 in a 6-5 overtime win against the Jets on Wednesday; for the season, Myers has just four assists in 16 games. Myers acknowledged that fatigue is something to work on. "I think as I put on the weight in the next few years here (my endurance will) get better and better," he told WGR-AM (550). "But I think right now it's a matter of managing that weight and realizing how I have to play, I think it's a matter of playing smarter for me."