Brad Marchand will be back on Patrice Bergeron’s left wing soon, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon at TD Garden against the Red Wings.
At least for one game, however, Marchand did not belong on the second line.
After the second period of Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets, coach Claude Julien pulled Marchand off the second line, replacing him with normal third-line right wing Reilly Smith. On the new line’s first shift, Bergeron and Smith assisted on Loui Eriksson’s winning goal.
“I’ve got to be better,” Marchand said. “We’ve been kind of quiet, our line. I think he’s trying to switch it up and get us going a little bit. They scored right away, so it worked.”
Marchand’s demotion caused a trickledown effect. Jordan Caron, usually the No. 3 left wing, switched to the right side. Marchand was also off the No. 2 power-play unit, with Gregory Campbell getting the nod after Ryan Johansen was called for holding the stick.
None of the moves surprised Marchand.
“I think I’ve just got to get back to playing simple and playing the system,” Marchand said. “Things will fall into place.”
On Saturday, Eriksson (one goal, six shots, 19:18 of ice time) turned in his best game as a Bruin. Marchand is seeking a similar breakthrough. After four games, he has one goal and zero assists.
Because of his struggles, Marchand is not playing with his usual swagger. The Bruins know Marchand’s spunk will return. They would prefer that it happens quickly.
Killing some time
Through four games, Jarome Iginla has logged 2:09 of shorthanded ice time. In 2011-12, Iginla’s final 82-game season in Calgary, Iginla played a total of just 1:37 on the penalty kill. Even 36-year-old dogs can learn new tricks.
Julien has tabbed Iginla for PK duty for several reasons. First, the Bruins are down one right-shot penalty killer because of the trade of Rich Peverley.
On Saturday, that situation was amplified when Bergeron was sent off for holding. The following faceoff took place at the right dot in the Boston zone. Julien sent Iginla out to take the draw, which he lost to Artem Anisimov. Seventeen seconds later, Jack Johnson scored a power-play goal.
Also, Eriksson’s PK role has declined. Eriksson was in the regular PK rotation for the first two games, but played only 26 shorthanded seconds in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Colorado. Eriksson logged only 12 seconds on the PK against Columbus.
Last line of defense
So far, Tuukka Rask has been the Bruins’ best player. Rask, who’s started all four games, is 3-1-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. Rask should make his fifth straight start on Monday.
Rask saw only four shots in Saturday’s first period, and Johnson beat him with one. But Rask slammed the door on the next 23 pucks that came his way. After a Marchand turnover, Rask bailed out his teammate by gloving Mark Letestu’s shot in the second.
Rask submitted another beauty late in the game. With the Blue Jackets trailing, 2-1, Marian Gaborik found an opening at the right circle. Gaborik (team-high five shots) slipped a short-range snapper on goal. Rask calmly waited for Gaborik to commit to his shot and punched out the attempt with his blocker.
“He likes to shoot,” Rask said. “He was in tight. There’s not much else to do. I just tried to stay patient and not open up. He made a late move. He cut back to the middle and shot. I made the save and we cleared the rebound.”
The Bruins begin their first road trip this week when they play Florida on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday. It’s possible Rask could get his first breather in one of those games. But if Rask continues his near-perfect play, it wouldn’t hurt to ride the No. 1 until the following week.
The Bruins play at Buffalo Oct. 23 and host San Jose the following night. The back-to-back situation might be the better situation for Rask to rest and Chad Johnson to see his first action.
Through four games, Chris Kelly has been one of the team’s more consistent all-around forwards. Kelly has two goals, including Saturday’s tying strike. He scored just three goals last season. Kelly’s skating has been central to the play of the third line. “They’ve been consistent because they’re working hard and working together,” Julien said. “The forecheck has been good. The backcheck has been good. When you look at those young guys, Jordan’s trying to show he belongs. Reilly’s come to a team and wants to fit in. He’s a guy who didn’t play every game last year in Dallas, but he’s a guy who’s also trying to prove himself. Chris has been a good player since Day 1 of camp. You’ve got a good trio right there that goes out there and competes every night.” . . . Shawn Thornton has fought in three of the first four games. The only game in which Thornton didn’t fight was against Detroit Oct. 5. Given Detroit’s absence of an enforcer, Thornton should be able to keep his gloves on once more in Monday’s rematch . . . Julien gave the team Sunday off.