The Boston Bruins still appear to be sorting everything out after the first month of the NHL season. Sitting at 8-5, they’ve had some impressive wins, such as their last second defeat of the San Jose Sharks, but also some ugly losses, the latest coming this past Saturday in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders. It seems like every time the team looks like they’re turning things around, they end up struggling for a bit.
At the moment, there are a few Bruins that are struggling, but the biggest offender so far this year has been pesky winger Brad Marchand.
The stats for Marchand aren’t pretty this year. At -3, he’s the only top six forward on the team with a negative +/- rating. He scored his first goal in the second game of the season against the Detroit Red Wings, but has since been a ghost when it comes to scoring. In 13 games, he’s recorded just 15 shots on goals. It’s tough to believe the Bruins are OK with one of their typically solid offensive players registering just under a shot per game. In his last five games, he’s only had two shots.
The epitome of his slump was on display for everyone to see in the loss against the Islanders. To put it bluntly, it was a heinous game for him. He had one shot on goal, but also committed four turnovers on the night. He was one of the big reasons the Bruins just couldn’t sustain anything positive in Long Island Saturday.
He’s already been demoted to the third line with Chris Kelly and either Jordan Caron or Carl Soderberg. However, Loui Eriksson’s concussion saw Marchand placed back on the team’s second line with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith. The reunion hasn’t generated much of anything for him, and it’s time to consider taking a much more drastic move. If I’m coach Claude Julien, I have to start wondering if perhaps Marchand needs to be designated as a healthy scratch sometime soon.
It’d be a lot easier if Eriksson was healthy. Though recent reports say he may possibly lace up tomorrow night against the Dallas Stars, nothing is confirmed just yet. That said, call-up Ryan Spooner has been playing well for Boston, and with Caron and Soderberg holding their own as well this season, the team can afford to scratch Marchand.
The bottom line is that something needs to be done. Julien claimed Marchand needed to improve his work ethic last week, but so far there haven’t been any returns. What we do know is that Julien is not afraid to sit a player who’s under-performing. He did so last year with power forward Milan Lucic. Playing flat for multiple games, Lucic watched a late season game from the press box due to his lack of contributions. He responded well, bringing back his trademark intensity and eventually becoming one of Boston’s best players during their Stanley Cup Finals run.
Would something like this work for Marchand? We won’t know until it takes place. He may respond negatively, further extending his slump. Or he could see it as a wakeup call, that he’s not immune to criticism and the team can live without him for a game or two until he gets his game going.
Again, there’s no way of knowing how Marchand will react to a benching until it actually occurs. All we do know is that he looks lost this season, and one has to think scratching him is the only option left at the moment.