Marchand's agitating starting to get to Kessel

Marchand's agitating starting to get to Kessel
May 8, 2013, 10:30 am
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TORONTO – One of the interesting sidelights to the series between the Bruins and Maple Leafs has been the job agitator Brad Marchand has done getting under the skin of everybody’s favorite bashful sniper Phil Kessel.

The Toronto scorer did have a power-play goal at the beginning of the third period in Game 3 that helped pull the Leafs close in an eventual 5-2 loss on Monday night, and finished with a healthy five shots on net.

But Kessel also took a matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalty midway through the third period when he threw a punch at the Nose Face Killah.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Kessel. “I think [the media] is making a bigger deal out of it than it really was. We’re just battling out there, and it gets heated.”

Marchand dropped one of his gloves in the process just in case Kessel decided he was finally going to take out a career full of frustrations against Boston.

Instead their exchange opened up a steady stream of invectives being thrown back and forth between Kessel and Marchand once they both got to the penalty box, a situation Boston’s agitator found amusing a day later.  

“We were just talking about how the off-season was, and stuff like that . . . it was good,” said Marchand with a smirk. “We came together there, and I wasn’t sure what was happening. [Kessel] was shoving and he told me before he’d go with me any time. So I wasn’t sure what was happening, and I wanted to be prepared.

"[Agitating] is more for me than it is for them. It just gets me more involved in the game and excited, especially with the playoff crowds.”

If a Kessel/Marchand fight did happen during the playoffs, it would add to what’s already been an interesting fighting career for Marchand, who's already taken on P.K. Subban and Michael Ribeiro.

Getting into Kessel’s head has clearly been one of the objectives given to the Patrice Bergeron line as they’ve drawn that defensive assignment more shifts than any other Bruins forward line in the series. 

In Game 3, they did the job as the fracas between Marchand and Kessel took Kessel out of the equation for a key two minutes when the Maple Leafs desperately tried to push things to overtime. Kessel was held to just one more shot in the third period outside of his power play score 47 seconds into the final stanza. 

Even if Marchand was kicking himself for allowing the Leafs to get two minutes of four-on-four hockey as a result of his extracurricular activities with Kessel, it was "mission accomplished" for him and the Bruins.