On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the 2017 All-Star Game, to be held on Jan. 29 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Two Bruins (22-17-5) made it, both for the first time: goaltender Tuukka Rask (21-9-3, 1.97 goals against average, .926 save percentage, 5 shutouts) and left wing Brad Marchand (15 goals, 23 assists, plus-6). Each player had solid resumes that helped them earn their place in the 3-on-3 tournament that is broken up by divisions (Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific). The only other Bruins on the current roster that have previous All-Star game experience are defenseman Zdeno Chara (6 times) along with centers Patrice Bergeron (once) and David Backes (once with St. Louis).
It is surprising that Rask had never made it before since he’s been a top NHL goaltender for many of his eight seasons. Marchand is certainly not taking this moment for granted, knowing how far he has progressed as a Bruin.
“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “It’s something that I never really expected to see during my career, especially coming in.”
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Neither guy seemed to be fazed too much as the Bruins picked up an impressive 5-3 win at St. Louis (21-15-5) on Tuesday. Marchand led the offense with two goals and an assist while Rask only had to make 14 saves as Boston’s defense turned in one of its better efforts of the season. For this current road trip where the B’s have picked up five of a six possible points at Florida (18-16-8), Carolina (19-15-7) and St. Louis, Marchand has carried the offense with five goals (1 power play goal and 1 shorthanded goal) and one assist.
One of the unique aspects that make Marchand and Rask’s All-Star Game appearances so noteworthy is that both guys are in their late 20s. Marchand is 28 and Rask is 29 which signifies that neither player was an instant star along the lines of Toronto’s Auston Matthews (21 goals, 14 assists) or Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine (21 goals, 16 assists), a pair of teenage rookie sensations who were also named to the All-Star Game. Rask was a first-round pick of Toronto way back in 2005 (21st overall) while Marchand was a third-round pick of the Bruins in 2006 (71st overall).
For the B’s to continue their playoff push, they’re currently in second-place in the Atlantic Division, they’ll need Rask and Marchand to continue to perform at this elite level. Both of these guys have been playing some of the best hockey of their lives over the last few seasons so it’s nice to see the rest of the league and its fans realize what Bruins fans have noticed for a while now.
The Bruins close out their road trip in Nashville (18-16-7) on Thursday (8, NESN) before returning home this weekend to face Philadelphia (21-16-6) on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN) and the Islanders (15-15-8) on Monday afternoon (1, NESN).