WILMINGTON Brad Marchand knows he can be better, and it looks like hes starting to realize just how he can do it.
The pesky little winger that could got off to a good start to the season when he managed four points in the first five games of the season, but Marchand has gone ice cold along with the rest of the team over the last two weeks.
Marchand has been held scoreless with a minus-2 in his last six games, and hasnt been much of a factor in the agitating category aside from the second period spectacle against P.K. Subban last week at the Garden. So Marchand knows he needs to get better along with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin skating with him on the gold line, and thats as big a part of the Bruins resurgence as anything else.
Marchand potted 21 goals for the Bruins during the regular season and was legitimate force in the postseason, and that means he has plenty to live up to this season. Right now hes on pace for 16 goals and 33 points just 10 games into the season, and that would be a step down from his breakthrough rookie campaign.
Its more frustrating when youre not producing and youre losing because you know you might be able to make a difference, said Marchand. The more we lose and Im not producing Im feeling some pressure. I just want to be able to help this team win, and Im not doing my job.
Theres a little more pressure on me this year to do certain things and to play a certain way. Obviously I want to live up to the reputation, and produce to help my team win.
So much of the emotion and tone of the Black and Gold is generated and regulated by Marchand and his much bigger cohort Milan Lucic, and they have seemingly been on opposite ends of the spectrum this season. Marchand started off hot as a pistol with points and a frenetic pace on the ice while Lucic slumped with his skates seemingly locked in quicksand. Now Lucic has picked up the pace with goals in each of his last three games and his current spot as the second-leading scorer on the Bruins behind Tyler Seguin in the Bs 10 games this year.
But Marchand has slacked off, and that needs to change. The Bruins are a better, more driven team when both emotional touchstone players are firing off close to full efficiency, and thats what the Bruins will need Tuesday night when they face off against the red-hot Ottawa Senators at the Garden.
Ive been trying to kind of stay away from doing too much of the agitating stuff this year, and just worry about playing, said Marchand. But I think Im going to have to get back to it, so Im kind of playing the way I did last year. Well see how it goes because theres a fine line to doing it.
There are always points in games where you can do something to help. But the refs are watching me very closely right now and I dont want to hurt the team with a costly penalty. Theyre going to call it closer than they might have in the past. Its a fine line while Im trying to figure out how they call it.
Claude Julien was quick to credit Subban for getting under the skin of the Bruins on Saturday night at the Bell Centre, and said that was something Marchand did last season for the Bs as if it was in the past tense. It was a legitimate statement, but it also seemed to be a subtext message from the coach that it was time for Marchand to start stirring things up and getting the Bruins worked up into a frenzied state of mind.
The controlled aggression and anger is when the Bruins are most effective, and Marchand holds part of the key to getting them there.
Now its up to Marchand to figure when and how he can get back to that pesky irritant role that he performs so well, and help the Bs get exactly where they need to be.