James O'Brien

Brad Marchand probably won’t silence critics in explaining trip

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As one of the NHL’s preeminent pests, it’s no surprise that Brad Marchand had something to say about his trips on Anton Stralman and Niklas Kronwall.

Also not surprising: his explanation probably won’t make his critics happy.

“I don’t know if you can see the whole play, but you can see the whole time that I’m watching the puck. I really didn’t even know that [Stralman] was there until we collided, so it was just kind of a hockey play,” Marchand said, via CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I think last night the social media kind of blows things up more than it would normally be. At the same time with what happened with [Kronwall] it gets blown up a little bit too.”

Hmm, maybe people on social media didn’t get the entire picture thanks to the GIF of the Stralman trip. Here’s video that provides greater context:

The NHL hasn’t contacted Marchand about the trip on Stralman, while the Bruins winger received a $10K fine for the incident with Kronwall.

Instead of receiving supplemental discipline on Wednesday, Marchand was named the NHL’s second star for the month of January.

They’ll be plenty of eyes on Marchand tonight, as his Bruins face the Washington Capitals to kick off NBCSN’s doubleheader.

For more from Marchand, check out that CSNNE.com article.

‘Something to be said for chemistry’ – Contenders wary of trade deadline

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche hits the ice after flipping over Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals (not pictured) in the first period at Verizon Center on October 18, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals rank among the teams who’ve paid up big for trade deadline rentals, only to see mixed results (especially recently). For that reason, they’re sending signals that they might be quiet this time around.

“You see so many guys that are traded for pretty high picks and have very minimal impact,” Barry Trotz told the Washington Post.

Indeed, the Blackhawks paid an especially high price in 2015-16, giving up two high draft picks, Marko Dano and Phillip Danault (currently playing a significant role for the Montreal Canadiens) for an ineffectual group of rentals in Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleishmann. That’s like coming home from Blockbuster with a bunch of Ernest movies.

Sometimes it’s about the price or the quality of players, but don’t disregard the crash course a rental often faces in adjusting to a new city and new linemates. It makes it easier to see why Trotz views Lars Eller as Washington’s equivalent to a deadline acquisition.

“There’s something to be said for chemistry and keeping your guys together and not having someone come in externally, swoop in and try to find a role for him,’’ Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘So we’ll see. Things change quickly. But as we look at it today, I’m not expecting a big addition like that.”

Such thoughts resonate even with teams that might make a big splash.

While Pierre LeBrun reported in Tuesday’s edition of TSN Insider Trading that the Nashville Predators have inquired about Matt Duchene, they also wonder if another tide-turning trade would be too much for a team that finally seems like it’s on the same page.

And it’s also worth noting that teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t going to happily give up pieces like Ben Bishop for cheap, not after seeing teams mortgage their longer term future for quick fixes during previous deadlines.

In other words, if you’re watching pundits awkwardly try to pass time during a quiet 2017 trade deadline, it might just come down to teams learning from the past.

Here’s hoping they don’t take history’s lessons so seriously that we don’t get to enjoy a little quality intrigue and entertainment, though.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Capitals – Wednesday Night Rivalry

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07:  T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals takes a shot on goal in front of Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins in the second period at Verizon Center on December 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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With the Columbus Blue Jackets and other strong Metro teams nipping at their heels, the Washington Capitals have plenty to gain in winning tonight. Still, the situation is more urgent for the Boston Bruins.

Yes, the Bruins are currently located in the third spot in the Atlantic, and they’re not that far behind second-place Ottawa (though the Senators have a significant edge in games in hand).

Still, the Toronto Maple Leafs and others pose a serious threat to the Bruins’ playoff hopes, and Claude Julien probably feels some empathy for Ken Hitchcock on a day like this.

It should make for a fun one to kick off a doubleheader on NBCSN on Wednesday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream link.

Video: Max Pacioretty’s hat trick powers Canadiens win vs. Sabres

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Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty continues to distance himself from an early goal drought in 2016-17.

(One that, apparently, was likely caused in part by playing through what sounds like a very painful injury.)

Pacioretty is now at 24 goals on the season after generating the sixth hat trick of his NHL career on Tuesday, helping the Habs handle the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 5-2.

In typical hockey player fashion, Pacioretty said that he received a lot of help from his teammates. Judge for yourself in the video above.

Blues’ playoff lead shrinks after another rough night for Jake Allen

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen is slow to get up after giving up a goal to Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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So, it looks like the All-Star break didn’t provide any answers for Jake Allen or the St. Louis Blues.

At least, that’s the takeaway if you consider results alone, as Allen struggled once more and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Blues 5-3 on Tuesday. Allen allowed four goals on just 23 shots, losing in his first start since Jan. 19.

Judging by quotes from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues seemed remarkably even-keeled after the defeat. Maybe they merely believe there was only so much they could do, much like Allen may have viewed this goal by Nikolaj Ehlers?

Ken Hitchcock deemed it a step in the right direction and also noted that Allen would get the start on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Allen seemed very positive as well.

“I felt pretty good, honestly,” Allen said, according to Rutherford. “It wasn’t the result we wanted. But for my sake, I honestly felt pretty good.”

Here’s an artist’s depiction of Allen and Hitchcock reacting to Tuesday’s loss.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

All kidding aside, while the Blues currently find themselves in one of the West’s wild card spots, their cushion has basically evaporated.

Wild card ranks as of this writing

1. Kings – 54 points in 50 games
2. Blues – 53 points in 50 GP

Flames – 53 in 52
Canucks – 52 in 50
Stars – 52 in 51
Jets – 52 in 53

Yikes.