VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Once on track for the first 100-point season of his career, prior to injury and suspension, Brad Marchand entered Saturday night’s 6-1 loss to the Canucks projected to finish with 89 points, slightly better than the career-high 85 he posted last season.
The Lil’ Ball o’ Hate entered the weekend with a scoring rate of 1.29 points per game, second only to Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (1.31) in the entire NHL. In Marchand’s first four games back after a five-game suspension, he carried a four-game point streak (0-4—4) into the Bruins’ five-game road trip.
In his 14 games in the 2018 calendar year, Marchand has failed but twice to get on the scoresheet, recording a 6-16—22 line in those games.
“I haven’t played great since I’ve been back,” assessed Marchand. “I can be a lot better than what I’ve been, so . . . the only reason I have four assists is because [Patrice Bergeron] has 10 goals in the last few games. It’s nice playing with guys that are playing that well right now — Bergy and Past [David Pastrnak] — but I need to be better.”
Bergeron, on the best scoring stretch of his career, entered the night with five goals in the last four games, 11 goals in his last 12.
Marchand said he has felt his timing “has been a little bit off” since returning from suspension, sent off for five games for delivering a running elbow to the head of Devils forward Marcus Johansson.
“Plays that I was making before just don’t seem to be coming together,” he said. “But it will come back, that’s the way hockey goes.”
Concussed on the hit by Marchand, Johansson had not yet made it back to the Devils’ lineup prior to weekend play, sidelined for a total 25 days.
Starts and stops
Tuukka Rask, the starter Saturday, will be back between the pipes Monday afternoon in Calgary (4 p.m.) to face the Canucks.
Anton Khudobin, 5-1-2 in his last eight starts, will face the Oilers on Tuesday night in Edmonton. Khudobin has allowed only 15 goals in his last eight starts, lowering his goals against average to 2.32 and his lifting his save percentage to .925. He is 12-3-4 for the season.
The Bruins have not lost back-to-back games in regulation since Nov. 11 and 15, when they fell to 6-7-4. Prior to the game here, they had since gone 29-5-4.
The Bruins twice finished with more than 50 wins during Claude Julien’s term behind the bench. They went 53-19-10 in 2008-09, and 54-19-9 in 2013-14, the first time with Tim Thomas as their anchor in net, the second with Rask.
Ex-Bruin Loui Eriksson, on the books here for $6 million a year through 2012-22, entered the night mired in a seven-game 0-0—0 run and was only 0-0—1 in his last 10 games. He broke through Saturday, scoring the Canuck’s first and final goals. Through 47 games, he is only 10-12—22 after collecting only 24 points here last season, his first since departing Boston as a UFA.
Eriksson’s departure in the summer of 2016 led directly to the Bruins signing David Backes, who chipped in with 38 points last season and has added 25 more thus far, his scoring pace picking up of late (1-4—5 in the five games).
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.