Something is off with Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
Those who follow the Bruins no this isn’t exactly breaking news. The problem, though, is the fact that things aren’t getting much better for Boston’s winger.
We already know plenty about his offensive struggles. He only has 14 points on the year, with five goals and nine assists. Though he’s no Sidney Crosby, it’s not out of the question to say his numbers should be better. Much has been made about the fact that he may be struggling due to the fact that Tyler Seguin, his former line-mate and close friend, was dealt to the Dallas Stars in the offseason. But this is the NHL, so you have to adjust to the hands you’re dealt.
Even more concerning, though, is the fact that he’s playing way too close to the edge in terms of his physical game. He’s always been known as a pest, someone who will get in the faces of opponents in attempts to get them off their game. But there’s a big difference between irritating opposing players and illegal hits. Unfortunately, Marchand committed the latter last night against the Calgary Flames. Following Flames rookie Sean Monahan behind the net, Marchand laid a pretty dirty hit on the center, earning himself a two minute boarding call. Monahan had his back to Marchand, and was driven very awkwardly into the boards. Though he was woozy for a few minutes, Monahan stayed in the game.
It was announced today that there will be no hearing for Marchand regarding the hit, but to celebrate that disregards the real issue. This isn’t the first time Marchand has thrown out an ugly hit this year. And if he keeps it up, who’s to say league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan won’t eventually come calling.
Then there’s the matter of his taunting from Saturday’s bout against the Vancouver Canucks. The Bruins got their doors blown off by the Canucks, yet Marchand felt the need to mock kissing his Stanley Cup championship ring. Coach Claude Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli have both gone on record as being very opposed to these kinds of actions.
There’s no problem with Marchand keeping up his reputation as a pest. He was in fine form during the Bruins’ postseason battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins, especially getting under the skin of Matt Cooke, and it very obviously had a positive effect on his overall play. But he also has to know where the line is. The Bruins can benefit from Marchand bugging opposing players. However, when he very obviously and needlessly boards someone, it only benefits the other team since they’ll more than likely get a power play for it.
Right now, it just seems like Marchand is struggling to balance the fine line between irritating and illegal. For some reason, there are times when he can lock on to this, such as both of the team’s recent Stanley Cup runs. Other times, he seems to lose his focus, which results in the increase in sketchy hits or the inexplicable string of diving he went through in the 2012 postseason against the Washington Capitals.
Luckily for Marchand, his team is excelling despite his struggles to keep his composure. Boston currently sits right behind the first place Penguins in the Eastern Conference. However, Marchand’s contributions are still needed. It’s up to him to figure out how to eliminate questionable plays and replace them with pucks in the net.