CHICAGO – Sure, it might only be a regular season game worth two points in the standings, but the Bruins and Blackhawks sure lived up to the hype in front of a nationally televised audience.
The only problem: the game had to end in a skills competition.
Still, the two teams put together a high-quality performance. Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn’t get the upper hand in their 3-2 loss in their first matchup against the Blackhawks since last years Stanley Cup Final.
Despite the result, the Black and Gold can still be proud of their effort. Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s contest at the United Center.
Early jump for an early start
Whether its working out some kinks at practice or going over final preparations for a night game, the Bruins are quite used to getting their legs fresh in the morning. But when NBC announced that these two teams would be showcased in their Game of the Week, the start time was a topic of discussion.
Even with the 11:30 am central start time, both teams came to play. And it was entertaining from beginning to end.
“I think we did a pretty good job of getting ready,” said forward Brad Marchand. “It was a different game, being at 11:30, but I think we approached it the right way in getting prepared and we had a pretty good first period, too.”
They were outshot 15-12 after the first period, but the Black and Gold were rewarded towards the end of the opening stanza. Which leads us to our next talking point…
The good brat shows up:
As always, there’s always a risk on which Brad Marchand shows up on a given night. It can be the good brat – one who plays with a physical edge and creates plays on the open ice. And then there’s the bad brat – one who plays over the edge and mocks opposing fans (see the Vancouver Canucks game).
This time, the good brat showed up. And its safe to say that he was one of the best players on either side.
After last year’s performance – or lack thereof – during the Final, Marchand tallied two goals in 68 seconds during the end of the first and the start of the second period. But he wasn’t worried about trying to redeem himself after tallying a grand total zero points in last year’s series.
“It’s always nice to get a couple [of goals] but I wasn’t really worried trying to redeem myself or anything like that,” Marchand said. “It was a big game for our team and we need these points right now.”
More importantly, after an early season slump, the “good brat” is showing up on a consistent basis.
“He’s been good now for the last little while,” head coach Claude Julien said about Marchand, who is now second on the team with 14 goals on the season. “So its nice to have him back.”
Bruins get three out of four points on the two-game road trip
Coming into the start of their two-game road trip, the Bruins were in midst of their biggest slump of the season. They had many concerns going into the first game of that trip Thursday night, especially after going just 1-2 on their California swing a couple of weeks ago.
But they erased some quick doubts when they downed the Stars behind a strong third period effort. And, despite Sunday’s result against the Blackhawks, they can feel pretty confident going forward, which is a good thing, because the Los Angeles Kings, who easily handled them during the second game of the California trip, await the B’s arrival for a Martin Luther King Day matinee.
“I don’t think we have to look over our shoulders or over-respect anybody,” Julien said. “We just have to go out and show we’re part of that group and we are.
“Our game has slipped and we’ve struggled through some of that stuff, but we’re a good team. We’ve just got to play the way we know we can, and you get those games like today.”