COLUMBUS -- With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup with injury, it might have been a pretty easy time for the Bruins to pack it in once they fell down by a couple of goals. If it was last season during one of the more interminably hopeless stretches of hockey for the Black and Gold, then that might have absolutely happened.
Instead Brad Marchand stepped up with his partner-in-crime missing from the ice, and led the Bruins to a 6-3 comeback win where he posted five points for just the second time in a career that’s taken off over the last couple of seasons. Marchand wasn’t a one-man band, however, as he gelled with new linemate David Pastrnak on the right wing, and both talented wingers quickly forged chemistry with the big, strong and energetic David Backes stepping into the middle for the injured Bergeron.
The three combined for all six goals scored, 12 points and a plus-16 rating in a dominant final 40 minutes of Thursday night’s season opener, but it was Marchand that served as the spark plug catalyst after doing it so many times for the Black and Gold last season. It was Marchand, of course, that stole the puck from Zach Werenski behind the Columbus net, and then fed to a waiting Pastrnak as he pounced on the scoring chance for Boston’s first goal.
Once things started to settle in for the Black and Gold, Marchand kept creating scoring chances with his energy, skating speed and unwillingness to back off while Backes and Pastrnak kept the blistering offensive pace with him. It might start as an obvious choice because of the Bergeron injury, but it worked just like it had been in the planning for years.
In fact, Marchand smiled when asked if it might be tough squeezing Bergeron back onto his line after enjoying big success with Backes, and he jokingly said he wants the “four forwards and one defenseman” formation to become legal upon No. 37’s return.
“He’s played against the best hockey players in the world, and he did it while there [at the World Cup] so there’s no doubt he gained some confidence in that,” said Claude Julien. “But I really like the way he respects the game. It means he’s making the smart plays at the right time. He’s not making some bad plays and turning pucks over, and we’ve seen evidence of that before too.
“I think there’s a huge respect for the game in those areas, and it’s made a big difference for him as far as having success, and bringing us to the next level.”
For his part, Marchand was simply happy to open the season with a rousing, comeback win after the Bruins faltered in each of their first three games to start the season. He’s clearly playing at a higher level than most of the league after operating at a playoff-level for Team Canada two weeks ago, that should be a scary proposition for the rest of the NHL.
On Thursday night Marchand was also playing the role of team leader for a fairly young group with No. 37 out of the lineup, and wanted to make certain that he was spreading the credit out for the first big win to kick-start the season.
“I think the big thing that’s a takeaway from tonight is the character that we showed,” said Marchand. “It’s a lot of fun when you come back from a two-goal deficit, especially with a lot of new faces and young guys. It speaks a lot about our team. When you get down you want to push harder, everybody wants to push harder and I think about that happened.
“I think everybody knew that they had to step up a bit for sure. Anytime you have injuries it affects your lineup, but the guys did a great job. [Pastrnak] had a great game. Not only with a couple of goals and an assist, but he was playing smart. He was chipping pucks in and chipping pucks out, and he got rewarded playing in the last minute. That’s what we need out of everyone. We need young guys that are playing the right way, and step up and have good games. That’s how you win.”
One would think that Marchand wouldn’t have much to prove anymore after notching 37 goals and topping 60 points last season for the first time in his career, but he said that it’s exactly the opposite effect.
With key players missing from the lineup and new faces on the B’s roster, Marchand said everybody is trying to make good impressions with the group, and concentrating on putting their best foot forward as team chemistry builds.
But not everybody kicked it up a notch just like Marchand impressively did in the last two periods of Thursday night’s comeback while refusing to lose vs. the Blue Jackets, and perhaps that at least eased some of the pressure on this team in this first handful of NHL games.