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Returning Bruins hope for boost after World Cup

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara aim for fast start off success at tournament

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- From Team Canada's first pretournament game against Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, to scoring the game-winning goal in a decisive Game 2 of the best-of-3 final, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand changed a lot of opinions.

"It was funny. I knew before every time my name was announced I was going to get some boos," Marchand said after taking part in his first Bruins practice since returning from the World Cup at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday. "I think that comes with the territory when you're playing in an opposing team's arena and you're not a very well-liked guy, you know it's kind of coming. But I think once Canada started to realize we're all on the same team during that tournament, I think they might have changed their feelings a bit.

"But I have no doubt when we go back with a Bruins jersey on, the boos are going to be back."

Marchand is back where he'll always get cheers and where he seems ready to play for nearly another decade. He is fresh off not just winning the championship at the World Cup but also signing an eight-year, $49 million contract extension on Sept. 26 through the 2024-25 season.

Marchand had five goals, including the shorthanded game-winner with 43.1 seconds left to complete a sweep of Team Europe in the final, and finished the tournament with eight points in six games. Bruins and Team Canada linemate Patrice Bergeron had four goals and seven points in six games. Bruins and Team Europe defenseman Zdeno Chara had two goals in six games.

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All three Bruins returned to their NHL teammates Monday. It was back to the usual grind, with Chara and Marchand, and Chara and Bergeron, often battling 1-on-1 during drills. Of course, the intensity wasn't as high as it was during the World Cup.

"I have a newfound respect for [Chara] after playing against him," Marchand said. "He's just not fun to play against. I always knew that from being in practices and stuff. But when you do play against him, you realize small things that he does that makes him so good. He's an older guy in the League but he's still very dominant and we're lucky to have him."

Bergeron agreed with Marchand's assessment.

"It's a lot more fun to be with him than playing against him," Bergeron said. "It was great out there that Team Europe, they gave us some trouble. They had structure with a lot of experience and you could see that in their game and with their play. [Chara] was great and it's great to be back with him today."

For Chara, the end result was disappointing. But he relished the opportunity to play against his teammates and their linemate, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the title on the line.

"Exciting," Chara said. "They're obviously good players. They created a very dominant, strong line. They carried pretty much Team Canada throughout the whole tournament. They found a really nice chemistry and it showed. ... They were the difference makers for Team Canada. It's always exciting. I didn't maybe take it as hard as other guys did because obviously I play against them a lot in practices. But for sure it's always challenging when you have those three together and playing the way they did. It was pretty impressive."

The Bruins have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, so how they start 2016-17 will be more significant than before. Now that their roster is whole they perhaps can get a lift from their returning players who were competing at a high level before the season. A fast start could help avoid the disappointing ending of the past two.

"It's such a high pace [at the World Cup], I mean you can't duplicate that," Marchand said. "To come back, I think the guys that played in that tournament will have another step on the season. And I think that's where it's going to benefit us. I know personally it always takes me five or six games, sometimes 10, one year 30, to get into things, and so I think it'll just help a little bit starting the year off."

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