The Bruins went into the Pepsi Center Saturday and backed up David Krecji’s recent words about good teams not losing back-to-back games. Coming off a 4-2 loss to the Sabres at home on Thursday, Brad Marchand led the B’s to a 6-2 victory over the Avalanche (recap).
The Bruins haven’t lost two regulation games in a row since Dec. 15 and 16, when they fell to the Sabres and Canadiens.
The B’s scored two goals in each period Saturday and got multiple-point performances from five different players. Marchand and Milan Lucic each had two goals on the day, with Lucic setting a new career-high for goals in a season. He currently has 19.
Though the Bruins found themselves playing from behind early on after Paul Stastny scored just two minutes into the game, the B’s got four unanswered goals and Tim Thomas made the necessary saves to have the Bruins leading by at least two from 14:44 of the second period until the end of the game.
Here’s the Hat Trick:
SAVARD SCARE LIKELY NOT THE LAST
It's hard for anyone who has watched the Bruins over the years to see Marc Savard take any sort of hit these days. After the concussion suffered as a result of the Matt Cooke hit cost him the rest of the regular season last year and the first 23 games of this season with post-concussion syndrome, it's only natural.
That's why, when he stayed down on the ice last Saturday following a hit from Deryk Engelland, he was the story over everything else, even though he felt fine following the game. That's why when Matt Hunwick's hit that sent his head into the boards had him cut and holding a towel to his face as he left the ice (and the game), there had to be an anxious sense of "here we go again" going through Boston.
And unfortunately, with the 33-year-old in the first year of a seven-year contract, that's the way it's going to be every time the center takes a scary hit or is slow to get up after a collision. It's hard not to go straight from "collision" to "concussion" when watching Savard.
Savard will not travel with the team to Los Angeles as the Bruins prepare to Kings Monday. Instead, the center will return to Boston and undergo testing.
The silver lining when these scares do come with their centers is that they have capable guys who can step in. Blake Wheeler was more than serviceable in the middle when Krejci went down with a concussion earlier in the season, and it wasn’t long ago that Tyler Seguin was taking time at center from Patrice Bergeron on the second line.
Still, the worst of it is that any time missed for Savard, especially if it's from a concussion, could seemingly reset the clock on when he’s back to performing at his usual level. The playmaking center still wasn’t where he wanted to be prior to the hit, and if he does miss time, it may be that much longer until the Savard of old – the Savard that the team gladly gave that contract to prior to the Cooke hit – is back.
MARCHAND’S PRODUCTION NOT SO LITTLE
If you can honestly say that you predicted what Brad Marchand has done this year, not only are you a liar, but you probably also claim to have called that the singer from Four Non Blondes would go on to write a Grammy-nominated ballad for Christina Aguilera. Some things you just can't see coming.
Marchand, a scrappy little-engine-that-could sort of player in training camp, has made enormous progress over his rookie season. He first established himself as a dependable player capable of drawing penalties with the Merlot Line (Marchand-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton), and given his play on his current line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, the chances of a prolonged Merlot reunion tour are looking slimmer by the day. All three members of the second line had multiple points on Saturday, and Marchand led the way with four.
The 22-year-old hasn't necessarily seen a huge uptick in time on ice (he's generally gotten between 12:30 and 15 minutes a night throughout the season), but he's done far more with it from an offensive standpoint. Since scoring his first career goal nine games into the season, Marchand has been able to play his usual role of pest while also bringing the team some important goals. With his two-goal (one of which was an empty-netter) showing on Saturday, he now has six goals in his last eight games. He also fed Mark Recchi on a 2-on-1 as part of his four-point game. Again, who saw this coming?
Marchand, who is tied with Patrice Bergeron for second on the Bruins with a plus-21 rating, has consistently been the 2010-11 Bruins' best rookie. Yes, he's been better than Tyler Seguin (who can take solace in the assumption that he's a safe bet to ultimately become the better player), better than Adam McQuaid and better than Steven Kampfer. Given how impressive all three of the other rookies -- especially Kampfer -- have looked at times, that's no small task.
Given that he scored his empty-net goal Saturday with Dennis Seidenberg in the box, his second goal of the game also made for his league-leading fourth shorthanded tally this year. Marchand has gone from being an energy player to someone Claude Julien clearly has a ton of trust in and is willing to play on a line expected to produce. And, as hard as it may have been to predict at the beginning of the season, it's working.
MCQUAID, KAMPFER CREATE CHALLENGE TO STUART'S ICE TIME
It seemed to be a given that Mark Stuart would find himself in the press box one of these days as a healthy scratch, yet it was still surprising to see it actually happen.
Stuart, who missed 18 games with a broken hand and dislocated finger, wasn’t scratched because of ineffectiveness or because he’s done something wrong, but because through injuries the team has found itself with seven capable defenseman. First it was Adam McQuaid who stepped in with Johnny Boychuk injured and proved that he deserved a spot in the lineup. That made it much easier for the team to deal Matt Hunwick when the time and salary cap called for it.
When Stuart went down, it was Kampfer who came up from Providence and proved that he is a puck-moving NHL defenseman right now. When Stuart returned last week, he made a good impression in his first game back, scoring the game-winning goal in a 7-0 win. In case Claude Julien didn’t already know he had a tough decision to make, Stuart, McQuaid and Kampfer all proved with their play that they should be getting ice time.
So far, Julien has handled that decision the right way. McQuaid sat on Thursday, with Stuart the scratch Saturday. If there are two guys who are too similar to both play at the expense of Kampfer, it’s Stuart and McQuaid. Both are safe and physical, but Kampfer is the only Bruins blueliner who brings the skill set of a puck-moving defenseman.