Bruins’ Marchand looking for fresh start going forward

BOSTON (AP) Bruins forward Brad Marchand has used the past few days since his team was eliminated in the second round in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning to reflect on his role in the loss.

Marchand drew national attention and a reprimand from the NHL after he was caught licking the face of Lightning forward Ryan Callahan during a confrontation in the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime Game 4 win that pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination.

For Marchand, who scored 34 goals during the regular season and represented the Bruins at the All-Star Game, the licking incident added to his list of infractions. He has been suspended by the NHL six times and fined three.

Now Marchand is thinking about cleaning up his act.

”After having a couple days kind of looking back on the year and seeing what’s happened the last few days I guess, with all the media and everything, I think the biggest thing for me now is to really take a pretty hard look in the mirror and realize the actions, some of the things that I’m doing, have much bigger consequences,” Marchand said during the Bruins’ breakup day at the Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday.

”Especially the last thing I ever want to do is kind of bring the embarrassment on my teammates and the organization that it did. I have to be a lot better. I know I’ve said that in the past, but I think that that’s got to be the thing that I really work on the most.

”I think I’ve gotten my game into a pretty decent spot, but I got some character things and things that I’ve done that clearly need some fixing.”

The Bruins may not have to change much despite coming up short in their quest for their first Stanley Cup since 2011. They won 50 games for the 10th time in franchise history and finished second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Tampa Bay.

They went 14-0-4 from Dec. 16 to Jan. 25, which was their longest point streak since they went 18 games (13 wins, five ties) without a loss from Dec. 28, 1968 to Feb. 5, 1969 and tied for the second-longest point streak in team history.

One year after losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Ottawa Senators, the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

They accomplished this while losing 304 regular-season man games to injury and integrating five rookies to the lineup.

”We started with some injuries as you saw. … But then we got most of our guys back and we started playing with a full lineup and it showed on the ice. We were slowly and surely climbing the standings,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said.

”We faced some challenges about three-fourths into season again with some injuries, still we had guys filling the gaps and the roles and we kept finding ways to win games. So that’s very positive about this team and resiliency and never-give-up attitude.”

Many Bruins players were still coming to terms with being eliminated.

Several others, including Patrice Bergeron (groin), David Backes (concussion), Torey Krug (fractured ankle) and Marchand (groin), were dealing with injuries as often happens with Cup contending teams this far into the playoffs.

But to a man they were confident that there are better things ahead for the Bruins, who have seven unrestricted free agents among the 26 players that finished the season on their roster.

”I think the thing that we’re excited about next year is we have a lot of the team returning, which is huge. It was a big learning experience for the young guys that came in,” Marchand said.

”A lot of highs and lows so it should be a learning experience for them, and same with us (the veterans), we can always draw a lot from each and every year. … So hopefully we can all bring the benefits from this season into next year and be even better.”

More NHL hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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