Bruins sure think it's 'nice to have Marchand back'

Bruins sure think it's 'nice to have Marchand back'
January 19, 2014, 6:30 pm
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CHICAGO – Brad Marchand didn’t need to be reminded that he completely disappeared during last year’s Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He mustered exactly zero points and finished with a minus-3 rating after serving as one of the difference-makers two years prior against the Vancouver Canucks, and spent an entire summer thinking bout. So Marchand was ready to go when the puck was dropped at the United Center on Sunday morning, and finished with a pair of goals in Boston’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

In essence he supplied the Bruins with all of their offense in a 69 second burst in the minutes bridging the first period with the second period. Patrice Bergeron credited his longtime left wing with helping get everybody else moving offensively, where his skating game was sputtering early in the year.  

“He’s got that step in his legs right now,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He creates a lot of things by doing that, and getting open. We’re just trying to feed off that right now.”

While Marchand clearly must have felt good with the strong performance against the Blackhawks – much as he also performed well in statement against the Stars and Canucks earlier this season – he was more enthused about the team putting up one of their better efforts of the year in going toe-to-toe with the Blackhawks.

“It’s always nice to get a couple [of goals], but I wasn’t really worried about redeeming myself for the Cup Final, or anything like that,” said Marchand, who is now second on the Bruins with the 14 goals scored this season. “It was just a big game for our team, and we need these points right now. It was just a couple of lucky plays.”

Lucky shots, perhaps, as Marchand normally likes to label his own goals, but they came after a couple of slick, smart passes from linemates Bergeron and Reilly Smith. Marchand showed good battle winning puck possession along the boards near the end of the first period to start the first goal-scoring play, and then shoveled the pass to Bergeron for entry into the offensive zone. Bergeron drove down the middle of the slot to gain the attention of the defenders, and then deftly backhanded a drop pass to a wide open Marchand.

He beat Corey Crawford top shelf to the blocker-side with just 19 seconds left in the first period. Marchand came out with the same kind of electric jump in the second period, managed to get behind the Chicago defense courtesy of a brilliant wing-to-wing neutral zone pass from Smith. This time Marchand attacked from the left wing, faked shot and then fired through Crawford’s leg pads once he opened up the five-hole for business.

It was a nasty goal from a deadly scorer that has now scored 10 goals in his last 17 games, and has left the struggles of October and November well back in his rearview mirror.

“That’s what happens with players. Guys that have great starts and they taper off, and you’ve got guys that have slow starts and then they pick it up,” said Claude Julien. “He was a real good player [against the Blackhawks]. To me, he’s been good for the last little while. It’s nice to have him back.”

The mischievous side was also undeniably there: Marchand helped slow down a potential odd-man rush in the opening minutes of the game when he sneakily grabbed the back of Brandon Saad’s jersey to slow him down every so slightly when he was about to break free for a Marian Hossa pass.

That Marchand knew how to subtly impact the play without drawing the refs' attention is simply a craftsman at his work.

When all of that is working together in tandem, the Bruins have themselves the same valuable asset that led the team in scoring and skullduggery last season. He’s got the same chance to do it again this year that Marchand’s game is back on track for a Bruins hockey club that desperately needs him to be effective.