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Eastern Conference

Patrick Marleau: Black And Teal To Blue And White

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Patrick Marleau shows that age is just a number when it comes to speed 

Patrick Marleau found himself in an unusual scenario heading into his 20th NHL season. It was his first season with a team other than the San Jose Sharks. After all of those years in sunny California, Marleau packed his bags and bought a parka. He was now headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a three-year, $18.75 million contract.

But why would he opt for such a drastic change in scenery? “It was the team, the excitement that’s around it, the youth, the coaching staff, the coach, the management, the way they see the game going and the players they have on their roster, it’s extremely exciting to be a part of that,” Marleau explained to reporters (h/t Sportsnet).

After seeing what the Leafs have accomplished this season, it’s hard to criticize his optimism. There have been lackluster team performances and their 11-9-4 record since December first is a bit concerning; however, they still comfortably sit third in the Atlantic Division with 61 points.

There have been many things going well for the Leafs this season and Patrick Marleau is one of them. He’s on pace to score around 25 goals and 14 of the 16 that he’s potted so far have been at even-strength. Marleau has also scored five game-winning goals and has taken on different roles for Mike Babcock this year, including playing centre and seeing time on the powerplay.

It’s been a few years, but it’s not the first time that Marleau has played for Babcock. (h/t Zimbio)

From a possession stats standpoint, Marleau has also been excelling. He has 22 takeaways and only 18 giveaways. His CF% is a respectable 49.7% even though he has been absolutely buried in defensive zone starts (57.4 dZS%). He has also managed to rack up 56 hits, 15 blocked shots, and has won 54.3% of his face-off attempts. Even at the age of 38, Marleau is reminding everyone why he’s been nominated for the Frank J. Selke Trophy on four separate occasions.

Although Marleau has performed well as a centre, he has looked his best while on Nazem Kadri’s wing. Marleau has great finishing ability and his chemistry with the playmaking Kadri is uncanny. With 524 goals and 1107 points to his name, Patrick Marleau has achieved a lot in his NHL career. After all of those years of infamous playoff choking in San Jose, will his next achievement finally be a Stanley Cup?

Eastern Conference

Penguins Keeping Faith in Matt Murray

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The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to support goalie Matt Murray despite his struggles this season, leading the team to temporarily usurp him for Casey DeSmith.

Despite the downward fall, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan believes that the time off the ice will help him focus on work with goaltending coach Mike Buckley, and the team is maintaining both their faith and their confidence that Murray can return to form.

“I think Matt’s mental toughness and the experiences that he’s gone through, he can certainly draw on and help him get to where we all know he’s capable of being,” Sullivan said (h/t NHL.com). “Right now, he’s got an opportunity to spend some time with [Buckley] and work on some of the aspects of his game that we think can help him improve. He can build his confidence.

“This by no means diminishes our faith and our trust in Matt Murray. We know he’s a real good goalie. He’s an accomplished goalie.”

DeSmith understands his role, as backup.

“That’s my job. Just to show up when I get the chance,” DeSmith said. “I think so far, I’ve given the team a chance to win when I’ve played. I take pride in that.”

Murray is 4-4-1 with a 3.87 GAA, .886 save percentage and one shutout in nine starts for Pittsburgh this season.

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Eastern Conference

Devils Place Brian Boyle on IR

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The New Jersey Devils have placed center Brian Boyle on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, according to an official team announcement.

During Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, Boyle was on the receiving end of a devastating hit from Dustin Byfuglien, which you can see below.

In a corresponding move, the Devils have recalled Pavel Zacha from the AHL.

 

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Boston Bruins

Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Rejoins Team, Jakub Zboril Recalled

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The Boston Bruins will see the return of netminder Tuukka Rask, who took a few days away from the team for a personal leave.

In corresponding moves, Dan Vlader is on his way back to the Providence Bruins while Jakub Zboril will be recalled. Additionally, the team officially announced that both Jeremy Lauzon and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson will stay on regular recall.

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