NEW YORK — There isn’t much smack talk in today’s NHL, but irascible Bruins winger Brad Marchand spewed a little here in the direction of one-time Bruins prospect Ryan Lindgren following Boston’s 3-1 win Sunday over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Marchand and Lindgren, dealt here two years ago as part of the package for Rick Nash, banged away at each other throughout the afternoon, first midway through the first when Lindgren, age 22 and playing in his 53rd NHL game, took a run at Marchand along the wall at the Rangers bench.
Late in the second, Marchand cranked a two-handed crosscheck to Lindgren’s back, one that led Ranger winger Pavel Buchnevich to respond with an even more forceful cross-check to the back of Marchand’s head.
“That was probably a situation where they could have taken two [off the ice] or maybe nobody,” said Marchand, reflecting on the fact that only he was assessed a penalty on the second period dustup. “But that is the nature of the beast. It happens quick. But I think they had their mind up that they would [penalize] one guy out of the pile.
“But we ended up scoring, so it was a great play by me.”
Charlie Coyle scored a shorthander with Marchand in the box, what turned out to be the winning goal.
As for Lindgren, Marchand said with a straight face that he did not remember that he was once a Bruins prospect. Lindgren, 22, was a second-round pick by the Bruins in 2016.
“I didn’t even know he was here,” said a deadpan Marchand. “You know, he’s not going to be a player that’s going to have a very long career, so I’m not overly concerned about him.”
Marchand then added that Lindgren, ex- of the University of Minnesota, is “a good steady defenseman.”
“But there’s nothing that’s come up in the past,” added Marchand, the L’il Ball o’Hate. “All the best to him, hope he does a great job, but . . . can’t see it.”
Is Kreider a fit?
The Bruins had possibly their last look at Bay State boy Chris Kreider in a Rangers uni.
Might they see the veteran left winger again next week with a Spoked-B on his chest? Possibly. Although, the version they saw here Sunday was not very impressive. Kreider landed four shots on net, none much of a threat, logged a -2 and didn’t pick up a point.
Kreider, 28, is No. 1 on the rumor mill for players to be dealt prior to the league’s trade deadline next Monday. The Bruins would like to acquire scoring depth, and Kreider’s bonafides this season (23-19—42) could make him a fit, particularly for a second line, centered by David Krejci, that is still looking for its mojo.
Kreider, ex- of Boxford and Boston College, becomes an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, and the Rangers are struggling as to whether they want to extend him on a long-term deal for a payout considerably higher than his current salary of $4.625 million per annum.
The Rangers play three more times prior to the deadline, including matchups against Chicago (Wed.), Carolina (Fri.), and San Jose (Sat.).
If Don Sweeney wades into talks with Ranger GM Jeff Gorton — the two paired up two years ago on the Nash swap – it’s likely the Boston GM will try to fold David Backes into the deal. A possible scenario would have the Bruins retaining, say, 50 percent of the Backes cap hit next season, and handing over a draft pick or two to the Blueshirts as a service charge.
Backes, who has not played in five weeks (Jan. 9), then would have an invite to Ranger training camp in September. The Bruins shoveled Matt Beleskey out of town similarly two years ago as part of the Nash acquisition. Beleskey went on to play only five games for the Ranger varsity and is finishing out his Boston contract this season with AHL Hartford.
The Bruins are footing $1.9 million of Beleskey’s salary this season.
Halak gets the win
Jaro Halak was back on duty, tending net here and played a steady 60, turning back 25 of 26 Ranger offerings.
Halak (15-6-6) was scheduled to start last Sunday in Detroit, was in net for the pregame warmup, but was a last-minute scratch with what the Bruins reported as an upper-body injury.
With Halak on the shelf, Tuukka Rask on Saturday made his season-high fourth consecutive start and submitted a 4-1 win over the Red Wings at the Garden. Rask went 3-1-0 over the four-game stretch, turning back 99 of 105 shots for a .943 save percentage.
As of Sunday morning, Rask’s .931 save percentage ranked first in the league of the 30 goalies to play in at least 30 games in 2019-20. Likewise for his 2.08 goals-against average.
Pastrnak holds at 42
David Pastrnak, shut out here on three shots on net, potted his career-high 42nd goal of the season in the win over the Red Wings. Later on Saturday, Auston Matthews also picked up his 42nd in the Leafs’ 4-2 win at Ottawa.
Alex Ovechkin, chasing his 700th career goal, was kept off the board in Arizona later on Saturday and remains third in goal scoring with 40. The Great Ovie now has gone a season-high four straight games without a goal. His next chance: Monday night in Vegas, a fitting site for a guy with the odds of scoring in his favor.
Pastrnak, 42-40—82, on Saturday also reached a career high in points. He finished with 81 last season and 80 in 2017-18.
Pastrnak is one of four NHLers to reach the 80-point plateau this season. He was one of 21 to do it in 2017-’18 and one of 28 last season.
More for Marchand
Marchand (23-51—74) collected two assists Thursday vs. the Habs and another pair Saturday vs. the Red Wings and added one here to give him five apples in the last three games. It’s the third straight season he has reached the 50-assist plateau. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Marchand has accumulated 166 assists, ranking behind only Connor McDavid (193), Nikita Kucherov (192), and Blake Wheeler (172) . . . In their nine games since the bye break, the Bruins are 8-1-0, with a 30-11 scoring edge and 327-242 shot advantage . . . . . . Connor Clifton, finally back in working condition after exiting the lineup with injury Dec. 29, agreed to report to AHL Providence for a conditioning stint. The Bruins fly west from here on Monday and Clifton isn’t slated to be on their upcoming stops in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.