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Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been suspended the final two games of the regular season for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin in the groin Tuesday night at TD Garden.

In announcing the penalty, the NHL Department of Player Safety said that stick infractions happen frequently in the league and are usually handled with on-ice penalties but that Marchand’s situation was different.

“What causes this play to rise to the level of supplemental discipline is the intent, the force used and Marchand’s substantial history of attacking the lower body of unsuspecting opponents,” the department said. “This is not accidental or inadvertent contact.”

In issuing the suspension the league said in an explanatory video that Marchand’s history affected its decision. Marchand was suspended four times for 12 games total prior to this punishment. He was also fined three times, including $10,000 for slew-footing Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall in January. Marchand will lose $109,756.10 based on his annual salary.

“It was definitely very, very selfish and undisciplined,” Marchand said. “But you can’t do anything about it now, and the most important thing is we’re in the playoffs and regardless of who we have to play, we have to do the job. So a couple games here and we’re still a very capable team on the ice. They won a huge game without me the other night and they’re going to be ready to play regardless.

“I’m not really concerned about how anyone feels outside of the room,” Marchand said. “Things happen in hockey and again the only people I care about in this world are my teammates and my family. And I think that they have different thoughts about me. So everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”

Marchand leads the Bruins with 39 goals and 46 assists for 85 points in 80 games.

“Well obviously the skill set is much different, so we can start there, but Brad certainly needs to grow up a little bit on his actions on the ice,” team president Cam Neely told CSNNE.com. “Obviously, it’s been talked about, about walking that fine line and getting to it and not crossing it. He’s got to do a better job of that.”
Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin stays on the ice after being speared by Bruins winger Brad Marchand. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins game tied with the Senators for second place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points. Boston, Ottawa and Toronto are jockeying for position in the East playoff chase. The second-place team in the division gets home-ice advantage against the third-place team in the first round. Whoever falls into the second wild-card will have to face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

The Bruins, who have played one more game than Ottawa or Toronto, host the Senators on Thursday night. Boston will then close out the regular season with a game against Washington on Saturday.

On Tuesday, the puck was in Tampa Bay’s zone and Dotchin was defending the front of the net when Marchand attempted to play the puck but finished with the spear. Lightning trainer Tom Mulligan tended to Dotchin, who remained on the ice for several minutes before skating off on his own.

Marchand was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct and was ejected.

The Bruins went on to defeat the Lightning 4-0 to secure a Stanley Cup playoff berth. It will be their first postseason appearance in three seasons.
After the game — which also was his bobblehead night — Marchand described the spear as a reactionary play.

“It was an undisciplined penalty — there’s no question about that,” Marchand said. “It could have cost the team a very important game, but the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game.”

Dotchin, who remained in the game, said afterward he was a bit sore.

“My stomach’s a bit hurtin’, but just got to move on from it,” he said.

“It’s a tough [play], for sure,” Dotchin added. “It happened. The refs made the call, and let the league deal with the suspension.”

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week.

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Julio Teheran keeps pace with Noah Syndergaard in Braves’ Opening Day loss
Julio Teheran makes his living on the cusp.

As he opened his fifth full major-league season — his third as Atlanta’s No. 1 starter — at Citi Field on Monday afternoon, the 26-year-old All-Star could glance across the diamond at his New York Mets counterpart as the company he’s looking to keep. There are, of course, not-so-subtle differences between Teheran and Noah Syndergaard, owner of baseball’s highest WAR among pitchers in his age-23 season. Teheran does not possess the overwhelming power arsenal of the Mets superstar, forcing him to better command the edge of the strike zone and make fewer mistakes.

In his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, Teheran did just that.
The Atlanta Braves dropped their 2017 opener with a 6-0 loss in Queens as their bullpen, hampered by defensive gaffes, imploded in the seventh inning, but their de facto ace matched Syndergaard pitch for pitch. Teheran tossed six shutout innings with six strikeouts before being replaced with a high pitch count. Mets hitters tallied three walks and four hits against him yet could not deliver in key moments as Teheran found his rhythm approximately midway through his outing.

“He’s our ace,” Freeman said, “and he pitched like it today.”

Starting pitching was this team’s major weakness last season. John Hart and John Coppoella reinforced this notion over the offseason, devoting $33 million in new money to the issue. The problem can certainly not be attributed to Teheran, an affordable 3.2 WAR pitcher who made his second career All-Star appearance. Still, jumping out to a good start on the mound, regardless of yet another instance of fruitless run support for one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball last season, was the primary silver lining at Citi Field on Monday — setting aside Freeman immediately establishing his NL MVP candidacy — and assuming the lineup and bullpen can rediscover at least some of their second-half effectiveness the Braves will be in better shape than they were in Game 1.

Julio Teheran is on the cusp of baseball’s upper echelon once again. He’s comfortably in the league’s top 40 entering the 2017 campaign; he’s now pushing for the top 20. Maybe higher. It’s a daunting climb.