BOSTON – Jesse Gabrielle has drawn comparisons to Brad Marchand since the very day that the Bruins drafted him two years ago. On Thursday night, everybody got to see a few reasons behind those sentiments.
Gabrielle spent the first 50 minutes of the 2-1 overtime Bruins win aggravating, agitating and poking at the Flyers while coupling with Riley Nash and Noel Acciari to provide stout defense and even getting in a couple of generated odd-man rushes that unfortunately didn’t lead to actual goals.
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The 20-year-old lost control in the final few minutes of the third period, however, in another homage to the early days of Marchand, and got booted from the victory over the Flyers with a 10-minute misconduct for grabbing an opponent’s stick while he was already on the bench.
Bruce Cassidy was understandably unimpressed with the actions that led to the misconduct penalty and two-minute minor for interference, but it’s also part of the Gabrielle learning where the line is for a trouble-maker in the NHL.
“I had guys coming up to me all game. It was a lot of fun. Another guy was on the ice and his stick came across the bench and he gave me a little stick tap. Instinctively, I grabbed for a second,” said Gabrielle. “Granted it should be a nothing play, but I got caught and it is what it is. Boys got the win and it’s not going to happen again.
“I just tried to explain that the guy stuck me first [with his stick] and I got caught and it’s not going to happen again. That’s something that can’t happen. I can’t let the boys down like that, especially when it’s a tie game. It’s just stuff you learn from and move past and learn from it.”
Prior to that incident, it had been a solid showing from Gabrielle in a game featuring many NHL players on both rosters. He set the tone early with a punishing hit on Travis Konecny that earned him his first interference penalty and he caught the attention of noted heavy hitter Radko Gudas as the two chirped back and forth throughout the contest.
It would have been an ideal start if he finished off a great 2-on-1 chance he enjoyed in the third period prior to the misconduct, but then came the misconduct and the words of support from his teammates afterward. Marchand gave him a pat on the back, having been in that position many times in the past, and that meant the world to a player that models his game after the Little Ball of Hate.
“I try to learn from [Marchand]. He’s my favorite player and I try to emulate my game after him. I just try to be a sponge around him. [It’s good] when you can watch him play and experience it and have him on the bench,” said Gabrielle. “Like I said, I’m just trying to be a sponge and learn from him. I went up to him after the game and talked to him about it and said you just got to find that line. He said you’re going to get caught sometimes, and you just got to learn from it.”
Marchand certainly enjoys having a mini-me around in Gabrielle and perhaps finally having a rabble-rousing troublemaker in the lineup that can take the pressure off him to push opponent’s buttons.
“He’s a great kid. You know, you watch him out there tonight, getting everyone off their game out there. It was a lot of fun to watch, and, you know, it’s nice to have guys like that on a team,” said Marchand. “It’s fun when they’re on the team and, you know, you hate on the other team. I think they were just trying to control the game and make sure nothing bad happened out there. There were a lot of guys out there that were pretty mad at him.
“He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s a good player. He’s good at what he does. He reminds me a lot of myself when he’s out there. I just laugh at him. He’s a pretty funny kid. He’s fun to have on the team and he makes it exciting to watch. You tend to watch him when he’s out there on the ice.”
Now, just like Marchand, Gabrielle has to learn the rules of engagement at the pro hockey level as he makes the transition from junior hockey. His chances of making the NHL as a dark-horse candidate might have taken a hit with his mistake late in the third period of a tight game, but Gabrielle is showing that it might not be too long before his energy and brand of on-ice mischief will be welcomed in the NHL.