Julien: Marchand's 'game is not there right now'

Julien: Marchand's 'game is not there right now'
May 11, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Brad Marchand left practice early Thursday morning with an apparent injury before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. the New York Rangers.

(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- The Bruins are aware they’ve got a production problem, and they’re trying to address it in the middle of a playoff series while battling for their Stanley Cup lives. The B’s are still up 3-2 in the series as they travel back to Toronto for Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre, but they’ve got a dysfunctional offense that hasn’t been firing on all cylinders.

Brad Marchand has zero goals in five games, and just 13 shots on net without registering much of an emotional imprint on the series, and that’s very unlike the Nose Face Killah. Normally he’s embroiled in one fracas or another while stirring the drink for the Black and Gold, and Marchand has used courage and fearlessness to stick his nose into the danger areas on the ice.

But Marchand hasn’t been involved in things close to the net, and he doesn’t have the strong puck possession on his stick that’s normally a key part of the right winger’s offensive package. It’s almost like the Velcro has been removed from the blade of his stick, and his ability to dangle has been reduced. That was led to zero goals and two assists in five games against the Leafs, and just one goal along with a minus-1 rating in his last 12 playoff games.

Some of Marchand’s teammates have been there before, and they feel for their scuffling teammate. The playoffs are never a good time to hit a slump, or experience a downturn in your game. That’s especially true for a player like Marchand, who leads the Bruins with 18 goals scored during the shortened season.

“It happened to me last year, and happened to me in 2011. You lead the team in goals and scoring, and then you get into the playoffs and it’s not going for you,” said Milan Lucic. “You have to try to do whatever you can to get yourself out of it, and not put so much emphasis on scoring. You can’t get to ‘C’ without accomplishing ‘B’ and ‘A.’ I remember what I went through in that Montreal series.

“Because you lead the team in goals, you put so much emphasis on scoring that you forget about all of the other stuff that you have to do get the goals. We know they’re good players. They know they’re good players, and they’re fully capable of turning it around. They can step it up and play big in big games. We’re going to need them.”

Patrice Bergeron finally snagged a power play goal in Game 4 for his first real offensive appearance of the series, and Tyler Seguin has put up an offensive donut (zero points) in five games.

David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have covered for their struggling teammates thus far, but the Bruins coaching staff is working diligently to get Marchand, and to some degree Seguin, back on track. The trio was pretty good in the first couple of games against the Leafs while not cashing in on their offensive chances, but it’s been steadily downhill since then.

“Their overall game is not there right now. [Marchand] and that line haven’t been as good. It’s certainly something that we deal with internally. I’m not going to elaborate them, specifically, publicly; that’s not my style,” said Claude Julien. “I’m seeing the same thing you guys are.

“A lot of things just aren’t happening right now. Those things have to happen. We’re doing some work with those guys to help them find those parts of their game. You hope that that’s going to be the case tomorrow.”

Seguin has 27 shots on goal in Boston’s five playoff games, and has been engaged in the physical battle during at least the three home games against the Maple Leafs. Bergeron and Seguin have been more good than bad against Toronto in the series, but Marchand is the one whose game isn’t there right now.

It would certainly makes things a lot easier for the Black and Gold to finally vanquish the Maple Leafs if their leading scorer can get untracked, and start playing like the Little Ball of Hate that’s been so effective over the last three seasons.