WILMINGTON -- The challenge is there for Brad Marchand if he wants to seize it.
With Loui Eriksson considered week-to-week at this point while recovering from a concussion, Marchand has stepped into the resulting vacant spot on the right side of Patrice Bergeron. In the past, Marchand has always been on the left wing, but it shouldn't be too much of an adjustment for him since that line has always been the picture of chemistry and communication while players filled teammates' lanes up and down the ice.
Marchand is off to one of the worst starts of his career with a goal and three points in the first 10 games of the season, but the hope is that Boston’s time of need right now will turn up the desperation dial for the Nose Face Killah. He’d been dropped to the third line early in the season based on his struggles after what the B’s coaching staff termed an "average" camp.
He’s been open about trying to take the agitating element out of his game for fear that an 8-10 game suspension awaits him if he loses his cool out on the ice.
“You don’t want to get down on yourself, or change your attitude,” said Marchand last week when asked about his struggles. “It’s about focus and doing all of the little things. I need to make sure I’m running my routes and doing the simple things. [My emotion] gets me into the game, and gets me a little more excited to be out there. Maybe I have to get back to [agitating] a little bit more.”
Certainly something needs to be done.
Marchand has only a single shot on net in those last two games, and he’s essentially been taken off the power play while averaging just 43 seconds of PP time through his 10 games played. Marchand’s 15:01 of ice time per game is down nearly two minutes from what it’s been the last two seasons in Boston.
All of this comes after a down playoff run for Marchand where he managed only four goals in 22 playoff games.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said it all comes down to skating and energy level for Marchand, and he hoped that the winger had turned the corner after a good practice on Monday prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh.
“I thought he had a real good practice today,” said Julien. “He seemed to have a little bit more jump. “I think when Brad skates the way Brad can skate, he’s quick. He’s a real fast skater and stuff like that. If he can start using his speed and put some real good work ethic in along with that — the compete level that we know he can — those two things alone will make a huge difference for him.”
It was a rare positive comment about Marchand from the head coach this season as the winger has essentially underwhelmed since passing the conditioning test on the first day of camp.
The Bruins need more production and more energy out of a guy that led the team in scoring last season and has averaged 22 goals and 44 points over the last three seasons.
Marchand was rewarded with a healthy contract just prior to the lockout, and he has been a consistent partner alongside Bergeron until recently.
But Marchand isn’t the guy that the Bruins need him to be right now, and the only way it will get better is for him to work his way out of it.