BRIGHTON, Mass – It might be getting difficult for Brad Marchand to top himself with each passing season.
Last year the Bruins left winger and resident agitator led the B’s with 39 goals and 85 points in 80 games for the Bruins, and finished seventh in the Hart Trophy voting while getting MVP consideration for the first time in his career. He was the first point-per-game player for the Bruins since the heyday of Marc Savard in Boston and took another step toward becoming more iconic, respected player than the guy opposing fans are most likely to hate.
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He still has some of the latter in his arsenal, of course, but Marchand knows he’s a guy that’s become somebody the rest of the team banks on for offense, production and making things happen in the big moments. There’s a pressure that comes along with that kind of expectation, but it’s something he’s ready to take on without any associated burdens on his shoulders.
“I think [opposing defenses] should just be following Pasta and Bergy around, but it’s fine if they want to cover me. They can just do their thing,” said Marchand, who has spent the first three days of training skate with Bergeron and rookie Anders Bjork in a trio that’s looked very comfortable together. “When you’re fortunate to have a year like [last season] there are definitely higher expectations. But I’m not going to put that on myself. It’s more about being prepared for every game and following Bergeron around and let him hit me when I go backdoor. We’re all just going to work hard, and hope it just works well for everyone.
“It’s just one of those things where everything came together, and I had a little bit more power play time. If you were to add all those power play points in other years it would be similar, so I really don’t think much changed aside from special teams’ time. Things just went well. I don’t expect that to happen every year, but it would be great if it did. I know my role is to go out, work hard and try to make things happen, so hopefully that’s how it goes.”
All polite, Canadian modesty aside, however, No. 63 has to know this Bruins team is relying on him more than ever after posting career-highs in all the major offensive categories. Perhaps there will be a little more point-production support from his center with Bergeron entering the season 100 percent healthy following offseason surgery for a sports hernia, and that will take some of the attention away from being directed at him.
But Marchand knows he won’t be sneaking up on anyone anymore after scoring 76 goals over the last two seasons, more than any player in the NHL aside from some guys named Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko.