BOSTON -- Life continues for Brad Marchand on the Bruins’ third line after the agitator was dropped there to start the third period in Saturday's win at Columbus. The Nose Face Killah lined up on the left wing with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron in Monday’s 3-2 matinee loss to the Red Wings at TD Garden, and responded with his most engaged game of the season.
He didn’t score a goal or register a point, but Marchand generated six shot attempts, threw out three hits and blocked a couple of shots, while also mixing it up with members of the Wings.
He was also late covering the middle of the slot on a Stephen Weiss goal, so it wasn’t perfect by any means. But coach Claude Julien saw more encouraging signs from an important part of the Bruins lineup.
“Yeah. [Marchand] competed harder tonight and seemed to be a little bit better for me,” he said.
Julien's comments indicate there’s still a little more improvement needed, and that would seem to be obvious at this point. But Marchand did have offensive chances, particularly early in the game, and he started to get some of his old, antagonistic ways going when he got into it with Wings defenseman Brian Lashoff.
“I don’t think it matters who you play with on this team,” said Marchand. “We have a great team and everyone’s in the NHL for a reason. It’s just . . . I have to be better and I know that and [being demoted to the third line has] been a wake-up call.
“I’m not blind. I know I don’t have the most skill in the league and I just have to have faith in myself and get back to the game. You get in that summer hockey routine, and I kind of dragged that into the season a bit. I have to get away from that and get back to playing good hockey.”
Part of the issue with Marchand is the difficulty in featuring every facet of his game when he’s essentially been declawed by the NHL Player Safety Department. He’s been a much different player since getting suspended for five games after bridging Sami Salo two years ago in the heated regular-season affair against the Vancouver Canucks.
Emotion has always been tied to effectiveness for a guy like Marchand, and he’s not quite as consistently effective when that part is removed from his game. Combine that with what Julien called an “average” training camp , and you have the basic recipe for his current struggles.
“I think it’s very easy to tell that, after my suspension I’ve calmed down a lot in that area," said Marchand. "It is tough, I don’t want to be sitting out 8-10 games if I do something wrong again. You do have to juggle that, but at the same time I have to do my job and just try to play physical when I can.”
So that’s where Marchand is at this point: aware he has things to work on and that his game has been altered to a degree over the last few years, but looking to regain his overall game at the start of a new season.