It wasn’t too long ago that Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand was mired in a pretty ugly slump. He wasn’t scoring, nor was he getting physically engaged. Essentially, everything the Bruins love about Marchand, they weren’t getting. The idea of designating him as a healthy scratch was suggested, as it just didn’t look like he was going to find his game anytime soon.
Cut to the Bruins most recent game this past Monday against the Los Angeles Kings. Marchand scored two goals, including both the game-winner and an absolutely dominating short-handed tally that occurred while fighting through a 1-on-3 rush. It was the second time in two days he scored two goals in a game, doing so just 24 hours earlier in a loss against the Chicago Blackhawks. To say it was a complete turnaround compared to the performances we saw from Marchand earlier this season is a severe understatement. So, has the notorious Bruins pest finally found his game again?
Stats don’t lie, and they say he’s heating up like there’s no tomorrow. Let’s consider his monthly goal totals for a second. Through October, he had just one goal, with an additional three in November. December was a slight improvement, as he notched five goals. However, January has proven to be his best month of the year. We’re still just over midway through the month, but he already has seven goals, six of which have come in the last four games. So, to put it bluntly, there’s a significant chance Marchand scores more goals in January than his first three months of the season combined.
Not only is he scoring, he’s doing so with style. Along with the aforementioned shorty against the Kings, his goals against Chicago displayed two things a coach loves to see in a scorer, accuracy and patience. His first goal Sunday was quite the snipe, as Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford stood little chance of stopping the shot. Later, Marchand charged in for a breakaway, during which he waited as long as possible before deking out Crawford and slotting the puck through the five-hole.
We’ve seen these types of goals from Marchand before, but they’ve been few and far between for the majority of this season. Now, they seem to be coming at a surprisingly frequent pace.
But, the question still remains; is the monkey finally off Marchand’s back?
It’s too early to tell at this point, but it’s certainly starting to look this way. As we know, players in this league are all susceptible to hot and cold streaks. Marchand’s early funk could be a prime example of the latter, his current surge the former. What’s notable, though, is the fact that the difference between Marchand’s game early in the year and how it looks now is night-and-day. He was a ghost in the first two months of the season, with coach Claude Julien calling out a lack of effort and energy. Now, he’s electric, at times looking unstoppable.
While it may be premature to assume Marchand’s game will keep improving, or at the very least sustain its current pace, I doubt anyone on the Bruins is complaining. For the time being, their pugilist is delivering what he’s known for, and that’s something Boston has to be happy about.