Haggerty: Marchand's Hart Trophy candidacy is very real

Haggerty: Marchand's Hart Trophy candidacy is very real

With each passing game, the unlikely Hart Trophy candidacy grows for Bruins left winger Brad Marchand.

Marchand picked up the second hat trick of his career in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night at the Rogers Centre and powered home the tying and winning goals in the comeback for the Black and Gold to kick off their Western Canada trip. 

Marchand is tied with Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead with 35 goals and is tied with Crosby for second in the NHL with a career-high 74 points after his four-point effort Monday night.

The real jewel of the third-period goal explosion was the game-winner, where he pick-pocketed Henrik Sedin and stole the puck from the Canucks captain at the half-wall, dangled it through Alex Edler’s legs on his way to the net and then flipped a backhanded bid past goalie Ryan Miller. 

It was the kind of game-winning, tone-setting play that you typically see from an MVP candidate and it’s exactly the kind of thing Marchand has done on a regular basis while scoring 25 goals in his last 28 games bringing the Black and Gold offense to life.

One of constants of so many of those goals has been the 5-foot-9, 181-pound Marchand attacking the net and going to the danger areas despite usually being the smallest guy out on the ice. He also has tied Patrice Bergeron for the B’s team lead with his seventh game-winning goal of the season. Combine that with the improved vision and puck awareness that’s allowed him to rack up a career-high 39 assists this season, and you have an all-around, elite player in the prime of his career creating an extremely worthy follow-up to last season's “career year” with 37 goals.

“You have to learn to adapt and change and you also pick up different techniques that guys use over the years and find different ways to create some space. Now with the game being quicker and the guys being a little more agile, it’s tough to continually cut back on them in the corner, especially most teams swarm down there and have three or four guys,” said Marchand after Saturday’s win over the Flyers. “You know the big thing is to just try to get the puck out of the area and either change sides, go behind the net and try to find some space. Stuff happens quickly out there and you learn to read plays a little bit better than maybe you did early on and it could be a mix of a few things.”

Clearly, it’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle in Hart Trophy voting for a sometimes-pest in Marchand who's gone way over the edge, and paid the price in suspensions, in his past history in Boston. Fellow elite NHL players, like the aforementioned Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Connor McDavid and Brent Burns, are also posting excellent seasons for playoff-caliber teams. None of them has the complicated, checkered past that Marchand does in a league that sometimes wants everything to be a little too squeaky clean.

But Marchand is on pace for 42 goals and 88 points, has spearheaded this Bruins surge to the playoffs and has raised his profile with Team Canada and NHL All-Star appearances already this season. Provided he can finish strong in the final 14 games, the Nose Face Killah is fully deserving of consideration for the Hart Trophy given to the Most Valuable Player in the league and he’ll get it from this humble hockey writer in a wonderful NHL success story of a guy that’s gone from fourth-line annoyance to elite MVP candidate in seven transformative seasons.

The Hart Trophy candidacy for Boston’s trouble-making Marchand might be a little surprising, but it’s very, very real at this point. 

Jacobs, Recchi, Andreychuk among HOF class of 2017

Jacobs, Recchi, Andreychuk among HOF class of 2017

New England has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, pretty much. 

The Bruins’ owner, two former Bruins players and one Hockey East legend are among those announced to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017. The full list: Dave Andreychuk, Danielle Goyette, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi, Teemu Selanne, Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs.

Acquired from the Lightning at the 2009 trade deadline, Recchi played parts of three seasons with the Bruins, notably winning the Stanley Cup in his final season in 2011. Over 189 regular-season games for Boston, Recchi scored 42 of his 577 career goals. 

Andreychuk spent part of one season with in Boston, joining the B’s in 1999 but being moved to the Avalanche at the trade deadline of that season in the Ray Bourque trade. 

Kariya became the first freshman to ever win the Hobey Baker award, a feat he accomplished by putting up 100 points in his first of two years at the University of Maine. He got to triple digits again soon in the NHL, posting 50 goals and 58 assists in his second of nine seasons with the Ducks. He followed his Mighty Ducks tenure with stops with the Avalanche, Predators and Blues before retiring due to concussion issues in 2010. He finished with a point a game on the nose, putting up 989 points in 989 games.