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Bruins’ Marchand calls Game 7 loss ‘by far’ worst of career

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Brad Marchand was a member of the Boston Bruins in 2013 when a 17-second stretch late in the third period of Game 6 of Stanley Cup Final left the 2011 champs devastated.

Leading the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on a third-period goal by Milan Lucic, and down 3-2 in the series, the Bruins entered the final 90 seconds with a Cup-deciding Game 7 in their grasp.

And then it slipped away.

Bryan Bickell scored with 1:16 left to tie the game and Dave Bolland followed Bickell’s lead, scoring with 59 ticks remaining to end the series, crushing Boston’s dreams of two Cups in three years.

Six years later, and prior to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final where Marchand’s Bruins would take on the St. Louis Blues, Marchand was still wrestling with those demons.

“It still hurts to this day,” Marchand said. “Probably look back more on the loss and what I’d do differently than the win. You lose something like this, you’re that close, you worked that hard — it never leaves you. Hopefully, we don’t feel that again.”

The Bruins were that close and they worked that hard in 2019. But like 2013, the same result –a loss — emerged, this time in Game 7, ushering in a fresh set of heart-wrenching memories that aren’t likely to vacate any time soon.

“By far,” said Marchand, his eyes leaking, when asked if this one hurt the most after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Blues on Wednesday. “It’s a heart-breaker. It’s tough to describe. They just took our dream, our lifetime dream from us and everything we’ve worked for our entire lives. Sixty minutes away from that. You can’t describe it.”

While the Bruins never tasted last place, they had their own struggles in the infancy of the season.

Tuukka Rask got off to a poor start and things didn’t look so great around Christmas in New England.

The New Year would bring new hope, however.

It began on Jan. 1 when Bruins went into Notre Dame Stadium and ground out a 4-2 win at the 2019 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks. That day would act as an unofficial turning point for the Bruins. The Bruins went 6-3-3 in January before an incredible 11-0-2 run in February and then passed the regular-season finish line with an 11-7-0 run as they marched into the postseason.

The second-half rally cry would prove useful experience in Round 1, where the Bruins would rebound form a 3-2 series deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs to take that series in seven games. Round 2 required another come-from-behind, this time down 2-1 against the giant-killing Columbus Blue Jackets. Some reprieve would come in the form of a sweep in the Eastern Conference Final and then they forced a Game 7 in the Cup final after a gutsy win on the road last Sunday in St. Louis.

“I love these guys,” Marchand said. “We had a hell of a year. We came very close. I love every guy on this team. I’m very proud of everyone that worked their ass off all year to get to this point. We’re a hell of a group. We came together. We’re like a family. It hurts.”

It’s the reality of hockey’s grandest stage. One team has to lose.

And it was Boston’s turn once again.

“You never know when you’ll get that chance again,” Marchand said. “It could be the last one.”


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Rangers’ Kreider fractures foot vs. Flyers

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers
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New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday.

The alternate captain blocked a shot from Philippe Myers with 7:40 remaining in the opening period. He played one more shift for 10 seconds before heading to the locker room. The Rangers have not provided a timeline for the injury.

New York signed Chris Kreider to a $45.5 million, seven-year extension prior to the trade deadline. The 28-year-old power forward has 24 goals and 21 assists in 63 games this season.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Robin Lehner to make Golden Knights debut; Mark Stone injured

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The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the past month and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to eight games on Friday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Coach Pete DeBoer had some significant lineup news ahead of the game on Friday afternoon, including a potentially significant injury.

First, is the news that big trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner will be making his first start in goal for the team. The Golden Knights acquired Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks just ahead of the NHL trade deadline on Monday for a draft pick and a prospect. Lehner has been one of the league’s best goalies for the past two years and alongside Marc-Andre Fleury should give them one of the league’s best goaltending duos.

The far more serious news, though, was the announcement that forward Mark Stone will not play on Friday due to a lower-body injury.

DeBoer had no immediate information on how long Stone could be out, only to say that he is still being evaluated.

When asked if it could potentially be a long-term injury DeBoer said “There’s always fear. We don’t know, but we’ll see,” via NHL.com.

Stone is one of the league’s best all-around forwards and has not only been a point-per-game player for the past three seasons, he is also one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He finished the 2018-19 season as the top runner-up for the Selke Trophy, something that has become almost unheard of for a winger.

The Golden Knights enter Friday’s game in first place in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

Related: Blackhawks trade Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

Oilers’ Mike Green to miss 3-4 weeks with sprained MCL

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Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was busy at the NHL trade deadline adding Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Ennis to his roster in an effort to improve its depth. But just two games later his team has already lost one of those new players to injury.

The Oilers announced on Friday that Green, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Brodziak and a draft pick, will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks due to an MCL sprain.

That is the way things seem to be going for the Oilers right now as injuries keep adding up throughout their roster.

Green joins an injury list that already includes the team’s top defenseman (Oscar Klefbom), as well as James Neal, Kailer Yamamoto, and Kris Russell.

Green played 19 minutes in the Oilers’ 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Athanasiou was also injured in that game, but is expected to play on Saturday when the Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets.

The Oilers enter the weekend in third place in the Pacific Division with 74 points, four points back of Vegas and only two points ahead of the non-playoff teams in the Western Conference.

Related: Red Wings send Mike Green to Oilers

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Islanders will play all home games at Nassau Coliseum in 2020-21

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March 22 will be the final Islanders’ game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, according to Newsday.

Randi Marshall reports that New York governor Andrew Cuomo will announce on Saturday that the Islanders will play any home playoff games this season and all of their 2020-21 home schedule at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders are currently building a new arena by Belmont Park race track which is expected to be ready in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. The franchise played all of its home games at the Coliseum from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn full-time in 2015. That lasted until 2018 when they split home games at both arenas, with Nassau Coliseum playing host to their Round 1 matchup against the Penguins and Barclays for their second round series against the Hurricanes.

While Barclays Center helped keep the Islanders in New York, it has not been the easiest arena to travel to for fans. The ability to get there via mass transit was a positive that the Coliseum doesn’t have. Yet when the Islanders returned back to Long Island last season, there was plenty nostalgia over the building that was home for the franchise’s glory days.

In September the Islanders broke ground on the new 19,000-seat arena by Belmont Park which is less than 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.