The Boston Bruins just finished up a convincing 3-0 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings, taking a 2-1 series lead in the process. Even though Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask notched his first shutout of the 2014 playoffs, another member of the team will likely be catching his fair share of negative headlines from tonight’s game.
Brad Marchand is the prototypical “I’d hate that guy if he didn’t play on my team” kind of player. He loves getting under the skin of his opponents, and is known to agitate any chance he can. Unfortunately, he also has a bit of a reputation as someone who will exaggerate a play every now and then to try and draw a call. You need only search his name on YouTube to see more than a few highlight reels compiled by people who aren’t exactly his biggest fans. Tonight may have given said detractors another example to add to their videos.
Five minutes into the second period, Wings defenseman Brendan Smith appeared to catch the Bruins forward with a knee-on-knee hit. Marchand immediately went to the ice clutching his leg, while fans throughout Joe Louis Arena voiced their displeasure. At first glance, it seemed a bit of a crass reaction from the fans, especially after hits of these nature became a hot button topic thanks to Matt Cooke of the Minnesota Wild. At second glance, the fans may have been correct in their assessment of the situation.
Marchand took the hit to his left leg, however video evidence shows him clutching and protecting his right leg. Though he could have possibly hurt his right leg on the fall, it certainly didn’t look like damage was caused. More importantly, he skated off on his left leg just fine, returning to the game soon after and showing no ill-effect.
Was this just another example of Marchand trying to embellish in attempts to give his team a power play?
Let’s get one thing out the way right now; this is not a blatant accusation of Marchand diving. I of all people have no idea what exactly happened on the play and certainly can’t just assume this was an instance of minimal harm and bad acting.
That said, it’s really hard to look past the very clear evidence of Marchand getting struck in one leg and implying severe pain with the other. And because he has a reputation as someone who’s willing to try and sell a call, expect to see an overwhelming majority assume this was yet another dive.
Marchand is a very skilled hockey player. He’s scored 20 or more goals in three of his five seasons in the league, has an accurate shot and speed to boot. On top of this, he’s also a solid contributor to both the power play and the penalty kill.
The point of the matter is that he has enough on his resume to show he can be an asset in the league. Instead, he’s known by many outside of the Bruins fanbase as a goon who tends to exaggerate hits. We all know he’s since embraced his ability to be a troll on the ice, but it’s hard to believe he wants to be known as a diver.
Cases like tonight aren’t going to help that cause. Whether or not he cares is anyone’s guess. As long as Boston keeps winning, I doubt he’ll throw up much of a fuss. At the same time, if he wants to shed the label of a player who loves to embellish, he might want to grab the correct leg next time.