Brad Marchand and Bruins still not close to getting a deal done

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Brad Marchand’s breakout performance last season both during the regular season and the playoffs helped make him a very important player to the Boston Bruins. Playing the agitating role while able to defend on the penalty kill and be an offensive threat can mean big things for a guy about to become a restricted free agent.

While Marchand has been busy celebrating winning the Stanley Cup all over New England, he’s also got a new contract to get figured out with the Bruins. After his performances last season, his price most certainly went up and that’s causing negotiations between the Bruins and Marchand’s agent, Wade Arnott, to be a bit more tricky.

While there’s no threat that Marchand will either be signed to an offer sheet nor will the Bruins let him go, it also means that negotiations slow to a crawl. As CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty shares, Arnott doesn’t see a deal getting done soon.

“Discussions with the Bruins are ongoing,” said Marchand’s agent, Wade Arnott, “but nothing is imminent – we continue to work toward a resolution.”

Marchand has said already that he believes a deal will get done between both sides thanks to mutual respect, but Marchand’s role as a cult hero in Boston after helping the team win their first Stanley Cup since 1972 has helped him make the case for how important he is to the team. GM Peter Chiarelli will have to figure things out the right way to see just what it is that will get him locked back in at a smart rate, but the Bruins will need Marchand back in place and happy.

After losing Mark Recchi to retirement and Michael Ryder to free agency, Marchand’s importance to the team has grown. The Bruins can’t afford to overshoot the market and give Marchand a big, silly contract and while the Bruins control his rights they will likely control their purse strings too. Finding the line between keeping a player happy and motivated and not driving him to madness with insulting offers is tricky. With how Chiarelli has worked in the past, you can’t expect that this drama will drag out too much longer.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.