BEDFORD, MA. Brad Marchand has become pretty good at deflecting the accolades that have been coming his way more and more frequently as of late.
He took the act like youve been there route even after receiving No. 1 Star of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He earned the award ahead of the Rangers' Marian Gaborik and the Avs' Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Bs right winger knows hes come a long way from the unproven fourth-line grinder that opened last season with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell on the Merlot Line. This year he has parlayed increased ice time and elite linemates into some prodigious offensive production. Marchand leads the Bs with 15 goals and is second with 29 points, proving that last years 20-goal season wasnt anything approaching a fluke.
Playing with Bergeron and Seguin is probably a little different than playing with me and Soup, said Thornton. Hes never really lacked confidence, so you cant say that about him. Hes always had the potential to do it and I think pucks are going in for him right now.
But Marchand plays hard and does all of the things right. Were talking about him because he had a five-point night, but hes been doing everything right for the last couple of years anyway.
Marchand's dominant performances -- a game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens and the hat trick against the shell-shocked Panthers -- made Marchand a No. 1 no-brainer for the NHL.
It speaks volumes about what the team is doing right now, and its a nice accomplishment, said a modest Marchand. Once you get to this level you realize how much it takes to get here and stay here. There are new guys coming into this league all the time trying to fight for spots and take yours.
With a team like ours everybody battles and wants to get better while pushing ourselves to the limit. Being on this team has made me want to be a better player.
Marchand is on pace for 37 goals and 70 points this season, and those are lofty statistics. But his ability to thrive and finish off plays with his shot and good skating speed have allowed him to keep pace with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, and theyve become arguably the best two-way forward line in the NHL this season.
Theres a reason Seguin and Marchand are ranked 1-2 in the NHLs plusminus department, and its the marriage of goal-scoring skill with diligent attention to detail in all zones.
Bergeron is also on pace for a 70-point season. It would be the first of his career since before his concussion at the beginning of the 2007-08. Seguin is trending toward 35 goals and 80 points as a 19-year-old phenom. There may be a few more No. 1 Stars in the trios future as long as they continue whats been an electric first three months together.