Marchand Breaks Through
BOSTON, MA - Bruins' pesky winger Brad Marchand started the morning with some outside concerns when he left early from the team's pregame skate at TD Garden, prior to Game One against the New York Rangers.
Coach Julien addressed it following the skate, saying "Brad is okay. You'll see him on the ice tonight."
Yes, yes we did. On the ice, jumping up and down with adrenaline following his overtime game-winning goal that lifted the Bruins to the 3-2 win, 15:40 into extra time, over the Rangers to take the 1-0 series lead.
"Yeah, exactly, I didn’t want to waste my energy there this morning," Marchand smirked, when asked by a reporter postgame if he had left morning skate because he wanted to save his energy for the goal.
"I felt I had some good jump tonight."
"Well I thought Brad was the reason [his line] seemed to have more jump," said Coach Julien following the win, on the winger giving his line with Patrice Bergeron and Jaromir Jagr a different look with the Little Ball of Hate's upped energy. "I thought that was one of his better games."
The Bruins had put 15 shots on goal in the overtime period before Marchand's found the back of the net. It was the most shots they had in a period all night, and they chose the right time of the game to turn shift into a higher gear - though, at least an additional two shots dinged right off the post. Close call after close call.
"Yeah, that’s usually how it goes in the playoffs. One team does very well in overtime and then the other team gets a lucky one," said Bergeron. "We hit so many posts and had so many very good opportunities. They were bound to get one. But, again, we’re very happy to get the win tonight."
But finally, the B's broke through.
"It’s kind of a blur. From the second it goes in to see everybody jump on the ice and surround you, it’s a bit of a blur," said Marchand, on getting the Bruins' second OT-winner in their past two games. "Obviously, a huge adrenaline rush and we were excited."
The goal huddle was reminiscent of the one surrounding Bergeron just four days earlier, and the alternate captain had his hands in the winner Thursday night as well.
"Bergy did a really good job - I was able to get a little bit of space, he made a great pass, and I just put it in the open net," said Marchand.
The play sounds simple - but it Chara's quick poke check to break up the play, followed by Bergeron's perfect tape-to-tape pass driving the right wing, and No. 63 fighting to get space and separate himself from the Rangers defender on his way to the goal mouth, that made it possible.
"On that play, you know, if you look at it, it’s a great play by Zee just to get that little detail that goes a long way. It was pretty much a four-on-two on that play and that poke check there just set us free pretty much," said Bergeron, of how the play began.
"We had some good speed because we were back checking. So we just kept that speed going and I told Marchy when we were pretty close to each other when we brought the puck on the wall, I told him just to go back door and so I took the puck and he knew he had to beat his guy and did a great job. So it was great to see him getting that goal because I thought he had some really good looks tonight."
Marchand put up three shots on Henrik Lundqvist, had an attempt blocked, and logged 22:17 in a game that saw him add a goal and an assist to the three assists with which he had entered the night. His apple on the power play helped lead to defenseman Torey Krug's first NHL goal.
"I felt good tonight," said the winger. "I felt pretty good last game, too. Obviously, the Toronto series wasn’t my best series, but I felt good tonight and just want to keep building on it."
Marchand had three assists in the series against the Leafs, but didn't play a huge offensive role until the Game Seven OT-winner, despite the effort coming from the B's regular-season leading goal scorer.
After not finding the back of the net, Marchand was frustrated. Amidst the "slump," he received a simple text from former teammate Mark Recchi
"He just texted me and told me to play my game and not to worry about anything else," said the winger. "The goals and stuff will come. It’s nice to hear from him - he’s obviously a guy that I went through a lot [with] when I played with him, and it was good to hear from him again."
A goal did come for Marchand, and it was at just the right time.
He found the extra jump and tenacity that he had been working for in the first round, but hadn't been able to execute. He knew exactly where he needed to be, on Lundqvist's back door, and it looked like he was going to find any way to muscle past his defender and get there.
"I think if that’s what he needed to do, get off the ice early so he could score that winning goal. Whatever works is good for us," suggested Coach Julien, when a reporter joked that Marchand went from leaving practice early to showing up big in the game.
"I thought Brad, personally, I thought that was one of his better games so far in the playoffs," said Julien. "He skated well, made some great plays, he took pucks to the net and that’s the Brad Marchand that we know."
"It was nice to see him really bring his A-game to the table tonight."