WILMINGTON -- Brad Marchand avoided embracing the phrase “turning point” when talking about the game in mid-December against the Vancouver Canucks, but it’s pretty apparent he’s been a different player since that point in time.
In 33 games up to and including the 6-2 loss to Vancouver, Marchand had posted 5 goals and 16 points to go along with a plus-7 rating. In the 21 games since the defeat at the Canucks -- where Marchand got called to the carpet by Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli for taunting the Vancouver bench with an imaginary Stanley Cup hoist when the B’s were down by three goals in the third period -- Marchand has 12 goals and 17 points along with a plus-14 rating.
“I thought I felt good in that game,” said Marchand. “It seems like after that game things clicked a little bit better. I wouldn’t say it was because of that game, but after that it seemed that I did score a little bit more.”
Claude Julien said the whole incident is in the rear-view mirror, and Chiarelli closed that window when he effectively bottled up any shot the Bruins would trade the impish winger.
“Those things were dealt with internally. I think most of us have turned the page, and are moving on. They’ve got a different coach and different players,” said Claude Julien. “We talked about it. I don’t know that I want to revisit that as much as you guys do. It’s been dealt with and [Marchand] has moved on.
“There’s no doubt he’s been a better player since. That’s what you try to accomplish as a coach, and as an organization: doing the right things, so you’re players can head in the right direction.”
But the results for Marchand and the B’s since then have been unmistakable.
He has carried the Bruins offense for the better part of a month, and lifted himself back to the agitating, effective top scorer he’s been with Boston over the last couple of years. It’s difficult to decipher whether it was the emotional experience of returning to Vancouver for the first time since winning Game 7 of the Cup Finals, or the butt-chewing that went along with his antics that ultimately made the difference.
But Marchand has taken his game to a higher ground, and that makes all the difference in the world to him.
“There was just so much emotion that came out of the Cup Finals that year,” said Marchand. “They were hard-fought battles. It was something you just don’t let go, and both sides have a few a guys that played in those Finals. It makes things interesting. Obviously emotions were running high, and if we go back it wasn’t something I’d do again.
“It was our first time back being there since we won. A lot of emotions go into those games. It’s tough in games like that with adrenaline, and guys running around a little bit. They’re fun games to be a part of. Before that it was a little hard to get emotionally attached to games, but after that I was more involved. My head was in the games more, and my emotions were there a little more. When I do that I feel better [on the ice].”
So don’t expect Marchand to feign kissing his Stanley Cup ring for Henrik Sedin, or lifting the Cup in front of the Vancouver bench after getting into a tussle. And one would have to doubt that a regular-season game would be the proper time to speed-bag a Sedin in front of the Boston net.
But the hate is still most definitely there.
“I think there’s definitely some hatred for that team,” said Marchand. “And they have it for us. Anytime you’re playing a team on the ice you’ve got to have that feeling. You’ve got to hate the other team. That’s what makes you want to push so hard to win that game.
“I’m sure it’ll be a hard-fought game. They’re a good team, they play hard and they’ve got a few more guys that are playing a little more physical now.”
Marchand is scoring goals in bunches, and he’s found the balance while getting inside the heads of players like Duncan Keith, Claude Giroux and Drew Doughty in recent bravura performances That as much as anything else is living proof that Marchand is completely in his element, and that he has found his game at long last thanks in part to the Canucks.