If you make a list of the most talented or valuable Bruins, odds are that left wing Brad Marchand would be far down the list in both cases. However, his importance to the B’s cannot be overstated.
On a team chock-full of serious professionals, Marchand always keeps it loose, as NESN's "Behind the B" reality show has shown in numerous episodes.Marchand is the fun loving guy that is always in the middle of every joke and locker room prank. Head coach Claude Julien often talks about the "good Brad" and the "bad Brad," so when Marchand’s game is right, he becomes the biggest X-factor to Boston’s success.
As backup goaltender Chad Johnson said after last week's win over Los Angeles, “Marsh has been awesome, you can see what type of player he is.”
Julien added, “That’s what confidence does, it gives [Marchand] more energy. He has great speed and control of his emotions, no panic. He’s one of those guys with Patrice Bergeron that is a threat on the penalty kill and they keep the opposing power play on their heels. He’s scored some big goals for us this season.”
Now in his fourth full season with the Bruins, Boston has grown accustomed to Marchand’s peaks and valleys. His skills don’t jump off the ice at you and he’s very small for an NHL winger. So when he’s not moving his feet, or worse, losing his focus (46 penalty minutes), then he doesn’t bring much to the B’s.
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At this moment, however, Marchand is playing his best hockey of the season. He is riding a five-game point streak (six goals, two assists) after an assist in Saturday's 6-1 win in Philadelphia.
"It’s going to end at some point," Marchand admitted. "You have to stay even-keeled. Bergy gives me good chances on the penalty kill.”
Marchand has an NHL-best four shorthanded goals.
Another season of playing with Bergeron has molded Marchand, who is tied for the team lead with 16 goals, into a more complete player. Newcomer Reilly Smith has also fit in seamlessly with Marchand and Bergeron on the second line. David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla have been a great top line but the second line is right there with them in terms of consistency and production.
Follow Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate