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Marchand Returns to Lineup, as Bruins Face Avalanche

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

DENVER - Brad Marchand should be raring to go on Wednesday night, as he slots back into the Bruins' lineup against the Colorado Avalanche following his NHL-imposed two-game suspension.

"Yeah, really excited to get back," Marchand said from the Pepsi Center on Wednesday morning. "Last game before the break — we obviously want to finish on a good note and very excited to be back with the guys."

Marchand received the suspension on Jan. 16 from the NHL's Department of Player Safety for slew-footing New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard during the teams' matchup at TD Garden on Jan. 15.

The Bruins dropped their next game 3-1 against Columbus in Boston, before earning a bounce-back 3-1 win in Dallas on Tuesday night to kick off their final two games before the five-day break for the NHL All-Star Game.

During his time out of the lineup, Marchand has been pulling extra hard for his teammates to pull out the wins.

"Yeah, definitely. I know anytime a guy is out of the lineup, it messes up the dynamics, and we’re such a good team when everyone’s in the lineup and we can roll four lines," said Marchand.

"So when I make a selfish play, it changes things in the lineup. We lose the first game, it was tough — so, very happy that the guys won last night and again, happy to be back at it."

The Bruins should have no trouble getting themselves in the right mindset to have a good start to this game, given the win over Dallas, the fact that they have won six of their past seven games, and this serving as the final game before the break.

But Marchand should add some extra spark to the effort.

"Yeah, he should be well-rested, to say the least," smirked Head Coach Claude Julien. "And he should have some good jump tonight. Hopefully he shows some excitement in going out there and wanting to help his team out, especially after we had a tough game last night. We expect him to give us that boost."

"Anytime you miss some time, you’re always really, really excited to get back, and playing in a back-to-back, we don’t want to have any excuses tonight," said Marchand.

"We want to make sure that we leave it all out on the ice. We have a few days off here afterwards, and we want to finish on a good note, so hopefully I have a little more energy than normal and can help the team in any way possible."

The Bruins have picked up at least a point in 11 of their past 12 games, but are still in just a Wild Card spot in the playoff race.

"As well as we’ve done so far in the last little while, the teams ahead of us have done the same thing, so it’s certainly been a tough climb," said Julien. "We’ve just got to stay the course, here, and continue to play well."

On the other side, Colorado is currently out of the playoff picture in the West by five points. Both teams need the points, and both want to head into the All-Star break on a high note.

"We know that they’re one of the top teams in the East," Avs Captain Gabriel Landeskog said of Boston. "They’re hard to play against. But for us, really, we know that they played last night, and we want to come out and establish a good first period. That can carry our momentum in the game."

Cunningham Picks Up First NHL Assist

Gregory Campbell's late second period goal in Dallas proved to be the game-winner. It also saw Craig Cunningham notch his first NHL assist (to go with his two goals).

Cunningham made a simple play, throwing the puck on net, with Jordan Caron provided a screen and Campbell picking up the loose rebound in front.

"It was nice - obviously anytime that we can contribute offensively as a line, it takes some pressure off the other guys, which is huge," said Cunningham. "We've been working hard and sometimes the results aren't always there, but it's nice to catch a break and nice to see Soupy get rewarded for his hard work as well."

About a week ago, General Manager Peter Chiarelli talked about Cunningham having solidified his spot in the lineup. The B's bench boss clearly believes he's done so as well.

"I think Cunny’s become a real valuable player for us," said Julien. "Because, a couple of things: he’ll take draws; he’s a right-hand shot, which we don’t have a ton of especially on the wings; he can play both those positions; and also, he’s very reliable. You can move him up at times during a game, and he’ll certainly do the job."

"So he’s become a very valuable asset as far as we’re concerned for all those different reasons."

Pastrnak's Learning Curve

David Pastrnak only logged two shifts in the third period of Tuesday night's 3-1 win over Dallas, as Julien opted for a shortened bench to close out the game (Caron didn't see any ice-time in the third). Pastrnak has logged one shot on goal through his past two games.

After netting back-to-back two-goal games, the 18-year-old is experiencing the ebbs and flows of his first games in the NHL.

"Well, he’s going through the things that we felt he was going to go through, and I think the couple of areas, is he’s got to be a little harder on the puck," said Julien, of improvements he would like to see from the winger. "There were some skate-by’s yesterday, and so that part, he’s got to be a little more committed to that."

"We’re going to keep working with him in certain areas, but he hasn’t been able — I think he’s seeing that there’s times when it’s not easy to get free in this League, but with his speed, and with the players he’s playing with, he’ll adapt, and he’ll get better at it."

"He’s only played a handful of games with those two guys, and I think you’ve got to give him a little bit of time there to get used to it. As we mentioned before, there was going to be some growing pains, and as long as he continues to show some progress and some will to work through those, we’re going to be patient with him."

Iginla Stops By

Former Bruin Jarome Iginla showed his smiling face near the Bruins' visiting team locker room on Wednesday morning before heading home for the afternoon. The Avs held an optional skate, with Iginla going on the ice early.

Always a student of the game, Iginla rubbed off on every Bruin during his short stay in Black and Gold in one way or another, and those lessons will stick with them throughout their careers. They still talk fondly of him.

Though Iginla has only laced up for four teams, with Calgary, Pittsburgh, Boston and now Colorado, he's the type of person you could picture fitting easily into any dressing room in the League.

Landeskog has seen that from Day One in Colorado.

"He’s been great. I think he was a great fit for this group," said the Avs captain. "He's a guy that doesn’t have to say a whole lot. Just the way that he carries himself and the way that he plays the game, guys are just watching him and it rubs off on everybody."

"So he’s been fun to watch, and he’s kind of come into his own here lately — him and [Alex Tanguay] are playing extremely well together, so it’s fun. But especially Nate [MacKinnon] and myself, we’re looking to him as an older guy, and we’re looking at him and how he prepares himself and how he takes care of himself, so that’s definitely something that everybody can benefit from."

While Iginla is certainly not the only player around the League - past, present or future - with that effect, it's remarkable to think about the impact he would have if he, say, spent time with every team in the League. There's not a single person who wouldn't benefit from that.

Projected Lineup 1/21 vs. Colorado

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - David Pastrnak

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith

Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton

Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid

Torey Krug - Kevan Miller

Starter: Tuukka Rask* // Backup: Niklas Svedberg

Scratches: Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron

*Julien did not confirm a starting goaltender. Svedberg skated on Wednesday morning along with Marchand and expected scratches Bartkowski and Caron. Rask is 8-1-3 in his last 12 starts.

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