While there are plenty of reasons the Bruins are just 12-15-2 over their last 29 games, defenseman Andrew Ference chose to point out one glaring issue — and player — in discussing the solution with CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty.
“[Staying together] is not just important, it’s essential. It’s the only way to have any success whatsoever,” Ference said. “Our trainer tells our young guys — especially [Brad] Marchand or somebody like that –- to run with the pack of gazelles. If you’re the gazelle that runs away from the pack then you’re the one that’s going to get eaten.
“Especially Marchand…I think he needs to remember that.”
While his quote veered close to Alan’s speech from The Hangover (“And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… I was alone first in the pack…”), Ference makes a salient point.
Lately, Marchand’s game has gone quiet in all facets. He’s scored just two points in March and barely resembles the annoying pest everybody loves to hate. As Haggerty writes, “he hasn’t been the rabble-rousing emotional catalyst he’s supposed to be when he’s playing his role as resident agitator.”
That said, it’s hardly fair to pin Boston’s struggles on a 23-year-old winger, or his tendencies to stray from the pack. The issues with this team are glaring: Nathan Horton (concussion) and Rich Peverley (MCL) are tough to replace offensively and Tim Thomas is on pace for his biggest workload in five years. There’s also the wear and tear from last year’s lengthy playoff run, and the fatigue that comes with it.
Of course, head coach Claude Julien isn’t about to start making excuses. He’s got his own spin on Ference’s pack mentality.
“We’re not a team that relies on one or two guys to bail us out. We’ve always been a group that does it by committee,” he said. “We realize that what we have here and what we’re all about is that our strength has been as a pack. It’s not as individuals. We need to play within our strength.
“It’s not about one guy as much as it’s about all of us picking up our game and putting it in the right direction.”
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)