Marchand Being Marchand
BostonBruins.com - If you look up "Brad Marchand shift" in the hockey dictionary (that has to universally exist somewhere), it would look something like this:
1. a shift that comes from a forward creating havoc, by moving his feet, driving the net and pestering the opposition in one way, or another.
On Thursday night, in the Bruins 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers, we saw the type of shift that Marchand is known for, first pulling a "shake and bake" on defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and faking a pivot towards the goal, before threading a pass through another Panthers defender to Patrice Bergeron.
While Bergeron quickly fed a pass to Dennis Seidenberg for the drive from long range, Marchand immediately started his route towards the goal mouth. When the puck trickled off Loui Eriksson and through goaltender Scott Clemmensen, all the winger had to do was tap it in past the goal line.
As he skated away from scoring his first goal in 13 games - and only his second of the season - Marchand reached back, took the "monkey off his back" and threw it to the ice in jackhammer fashion.
He may not have been "pestering" the opponent with Marchand-style chirping, but his quick play spoke for itself. The shift - and goal - were memorable, despite it being a "lucky" tap-in. That's the winger's way.
"It’s really nice to finally get one. It’s been a while, and I forgot what it felt like," he said from the Bruins' locker room, following the win. "But it’s only a lucky goal like that and it’s nice to get the monkey off the back."
That it is.
It's been a struggle, to say the least, for the winger to find his game early in the season - whether it was from putting too much pressure on himself to perform, not finding his skating legs, or trying to overthink everything and do too much.
"I think that happens to every team, every player at some point," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien has said. "We know what Brad is and Brad’s always produced well for us. Slow start, he may not be at his best, but at the same time, it doesn’t make him a bad player."
Patience was stressed not only for Marchand, but also the entire team as they fell into their recent stretch of four losses in five games, before taking a step forward with the 4-1 win over Florida. Marchand's goal had put the B's up 2-0 early in the third, and started a three-goal outburst to close out the game.
"I think he scored the goal the way we know he scores," said Julien, after watching Marchand snap his 13-game scoreless drought. "Made a great play at the blueline and then just skated to the net and was able to jump on that loose puck. He talked about moving his feet and when he moves his feet, he creates things and he scores himself some goals, too."
That he does.
"I think when things aren’t going right, you just want to get to the dirty areas and hope for some bounces and that was one," said the winger. "I missed one earlier in the game off of one of Loui’s shots and I missed a couple last game. So, it was bound to go in."
When Marchand's at his best, he plays on the edge. That could mean straddling the line between frustrating the competition and heading to the penalty box, or making the risky play.
"It was risky," Julien acknowledged, of the pass he sent to Bergeron to help set up the goal. "If they bat it down, it’s a different situation. But he made the play, and not only that, he came back high enough to make that play and also he started heading right to the net as soon as he made the pass. So those are things that Brad is known for."
"When his feet are moving, he’s a much better player."
On the ice, he looked more like himself.
Off the ice, following the game, he looked more like himself, too.
One to always smile, joke around, and show emotion around the locker room, not scoring or playing well early in the season also meant not as many jovial postgame interviews.
So, Thursday night, with a W in tow and a monkey no longer burdening his back, Marchand flashed his smile, as he described his unique goal celebration.
"Just getting the monkey off the back pretty much. It’s been a while and just a good feeling," he said.
It wasn't really planned, though. "It just kind of came to my mind and I figured I’d do it."
In 2012-13, Marchand led the Black & Gold with 18 goals and 36 points in 45 games during the shortened season. He put up 28 goals (along with 27 assists) through 76 games in 2011-12. In his first full season in 2010-11, he notched 21 goals (and 41 points) in 77 games.
The point here? Marchand has shown he's a bona fide goal scorer. But, what's it like, when that goal scorer isn't scoring goals?
"I know you’re not talking about me," he laughed. "It’s frustrating… you want to contribute all you can and when you see the games go by and not only are you not scoring, but I wasn’t really playing really well. It’s very frustrating. You want to pull your own weight, especially with the team we have."
"Everyone is expected to play up to par, so it was nice to get one and I've just got to keep trying to build."
And when a teammate starts to perform up to his potential, it also tends to give the entire group a boost.
"I think a few of the D were talking after the first period, and he had a couple of close calls. We just said he’s getting closer and closer. Everyone was excited for him to get that one," smiled Torey Krug, who often banters back and forth with Marchand.
"He’s been skating a lot better and he’s going to the net hard. It’s good to see. We’re happy that he got that one."
All of the winger's teammates were happy to see him find the back of the net - and they were all happy to see his signature style.
Moving his feet, making plays, getting to the net.
And being himself.
"Did he?" questioned Tuukka Rask, when a reporter explained Marchand's goal celebration to the netminder.
"Shocker," he added, quite sarcastically.
"I didn’t see that, but I’m not surprised he did that. Hopefully he gets more."