Marchand Stirs the Pot

Winger also is the straw that stirs the drink for Bruins.

The factors for the Boston Bruins evening up their best-of-seven series against the Carolina Hurricanes are multiple. The biggest one is the play of Boston’s agitator-in-chief, Brad Marchand. Over the weekend, the 5′-9″ winger upped his game dramatically in the Bruins’ two series-tying victories in Boston. Marchand’s numbers in games one and two in Raleigh, NC, were not on par with his usual production. He had one assist and mustered only five shots on goal during the two losses to open the series.

His numbers at TD Garden in games three and four were off the charts. Eight points (three goals and five assists) and eight shots. During game two on Sunday, a 5-2 win, Marchand factored into all five Bruins’ goals.

Marchand is the engine that drives the Bruins. The Bruins thrive when he gets under the opponents’ skin while keeping his cool. In Carolina Marchand was stymied by the smothering play of Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast, and Nino Niederreiter. Marchand’s frustration was evident in game two when Hurricanes back-up netminder Pyotr Kochetkov slashed him in the second period. Marchand flinched as if he was going to retaliate with a two-handed slash but held back, only to follow through after a shove by Kochetkov.

“He’s got a letter on his sweater for a reason,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s a battler, a competitive guy his whole life, he’s not going to get down too long. It’s the time of year he loves to play. He’s shown that.”

“You now have some animosity, we’re in game three or four,” added Cassidy. “there’s some chirping going on now too and that can elevate his game.”

Back in Boston, it was Marchand doing the provoking. He drew Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo off of his game in game four. After the buzzer sounded to end the first period in game four, the two exchanged pleasantries where Marchand called DeAngelo a racist. DeAngelo has a history going back to his OHL days and his time with the New York Rangers.

“It wasn’t much of an exchange,” said Marchand when asked about it. “I didn’t even know he was around me. Kind of came out of nowhere. There really wasn’t much of one…Just saying, “Hey, how’s your Mother’s Day?”

“It’s bright lights time and I think Marshy has always been pretty good with that.”

Marchand admitted after game three that his play hadn’t been where it needed to be.

“It’s the most I’ve felt engaged,” said the Bruins’ assistant captain. “It got to be a little while since I felt that into a game. I think the importance of the situation we’re in hit us all.”

Carolina had the advantage of putting the trio of Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast, and Nino Niederreiter on the re-united “Perfection Line” of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. Carolina’s trio kept the Bruins’ trio scoreless, save for Bergeron’s power-play goal in game three.

Cassidy was able to keep his charges away from that setup at home, and it paid off as the “Perfection Line” rattled off a combined 16 points at TD Garden. 

“Staal’s line is a very dominant, defensive line, very hard on forechecks,” said Marchand. “They’re big so they cover a lot of space in the d-zone and the neutral zone and they compete. They’re very good on face-offs as well so you don’t always get as many opportunities off of that. Kind of a strength of our group.”

“That’s playoffs, it’s a chess match, that’s the advantages of being at home versus being on the road,” added Marchand. “That’s a very good line, they’ve been great in this series so far. Those are the types of players that take you deep in the playoffs.”

The Marchand line primarily went up against Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Seth Jarvis in game three. Game four was a majority of Aho, Svechnikov, and Staal as line-ups shuffled due to power-plays, penalty kills, and in-game changes.

    Marchand’s Ice TIme Versus Staal line in Games 1-4
Staal 12:04 Fast 11:18 Niederreiter 11:58
Staal 11:49 Fast 10:07 Niederreiter 10:40
Staal 5:43 Fast 2:34 Niederreiter 2:34
Staal 9:13 Fast 3:49 Niederreiter 3:31

“It will be an in-game decision,” said Cassidy about splitting up the Marchand line again before game five. “We’re down to the best two-out-of-three. We’ll do whatever we think is right in-game to get back on track. That was the reason for it, late in game two, whenever we switched back. We needed some offensive momentum, those two guys could benefit from seeing each other, Marchand and Pastrnak, and I think they have.”

“We’ll see. A lot is made up of the match-up,” added Cassidy. “They (Carolina) will obviously control that for the most part. We scored a couple of goals off of face-offs the other day. Sometimes an icing can take you out of your match-up too, so there’s a little bit of that that we’ll keep an eye on.”

“At the end of the day, those guys have played against all the best in the NHL,” continued Cassidy. “Yes, it’s a challenge for them, but they’ve also been through these series. That’s what they’re up against.”

The Bruins will need to steal one in Carolina if they plan on advancing from this series. 

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