Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand practices with Bruins, remains unsure about contract situation

Sometimes it seems like having some extra cap space might be a curse wrapped up in a blessing. Surely Brad Marchand’s agent Wade Arnott must realize that the Boston Bruins are in a pretty healthy cap situation – especially for a defending Stanley Cup championship team during the salary cap days – so it’s possible that he’s asking for a robust reward for the restricted free agent. From the Bruins perspective, it’s not easy to gauge the value of player with such a small but promising sample of games on his NHL resume, which might partially explain the current impasse.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports that Marchand practiced with teammates today, even though he’s not under contract just yet. That’s a promising sign that this dispute might lean more toward being “just business” rather than getting personal, but Marchand did express some concern that a new deal might not be in place before training camp begins.

Marchand’s agent, Wade Arnott, indicated to CSNNE.com last month that “it’s not a done deal” that the restricted free agent signs a contract before training camp begins, but the player said on Thursday he hasn’t yet truly entertained the positives and negatives of holding out.

“That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s been a long summer and I’m anxious to get something done. I just want to be here and be on the ice with the guys,” said Marchand. “I’m not thinking that far ahead right now. It’s just day-to-day and hopefully it’s done before [training camp].

“I hope so, but we’ll see. With the Stanley Cup win, it’s been a very short summer and there’s a lot of stuff to do in a very short time. Some things take longer than others . . . that’s all.”

As Haggerty points out, finding comparable contracts could be a little bit tricky considering the bargain deal Logan Couture signed versus the high-risk, high-reward contract that James van Riemsdyk inked shortly afterward. As useful as Marchand’s mixture of sandpaper, agitation and scoring skill is, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins forward eclipsing the work of either of those examples, although it’s not out of line for Arnott to ask for the approximate $2.88 million per year average that Couture is receiving.

(Again, as Joe pointed out, the San Jose Sharks really deserve kudos for signing a budding star like Couture for such a reasonable amount.)

Interestingly enough, Arnott has some history with the Bruins when it comes to tough negotiations. He represented Phil Kessel during contract talks that hit a wall, eventually “forcing” the Bruins to trade the goal-scoring forward to the Toronto Maple Leafs for an impressive package of picks. Marchand’s situation seems different, though.

So there’s no Phil Kessel situation going on with No. 63 if anybody was afraid of the agitator shooting his way out of town just like Kessel did when he forced a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I’d never thought about it. I had no idea,” said Marchand. “I knew that [Arnott] was [Kessel’s] agent, but this is a totally different situation.”

Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine Marchand going without a contract by the time the 2011-12 season starts, but the murky question of his value could bleed into training camp. In the grand scheme of things, the Bruins’ have a relatively small amount of problems compared to most teams dealing with a Cup victory in the post-lockout era, which might explain why Marchand was making jokes about Michael Ryder dropping the Stanley Cup when asked about his off-season partying.

Perhaps that dent is a good symbol of this situation: a small blemish on a mostly sublime summer in Boston that we should all expect to be smoothed over in good time.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.