BOSTON – At a time when the Bruins are missing Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy due to injuries, they’re going to need some of their other best players to step up if they want to finish up strong.
It certainly wasn’t pretty on Tuesday night as they allowed five goals to the Detroit Red Wings, but they also saw Brad Marchand continue to step up and refuse to allow the Bruins to lose with a hat trick in Boston’s 6-5 overtime win at TD Garden.
Marchand scored each of the final three goals for the Bruins, finished with five points and once again played the clutch hero with the 11th overtime game-winner of his NHL career that’s now set a franchise record. Marchand had been in a tie with Dit Clapper and Glen Murray after his last overtime game-winner last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens, but now he’s got that Boston franchise mark all to himself.
It’s pretty heady stuff for a guy that didn’t ever feel like he’d be writing out any part of his NHL career as a potential 40-goal scorer over the last few seasons. But at this point the Bruins left winger knows that he and his B’s teammates will need him at his best while waiting for the warm weather. Clearly a red-hot Marchand isn't going to single-handedly replace all the offensive production provided by Bergeron and McAvoy, but it's a good place to start out at this point in the season.
“I think that it’s what I wanted to push for but a lot of it is really based on opportunity. You look at a lot of the guys around the league, a lot of the top scorers and if they’re not playing power play in the big situations then it’s tough to produce the same way,” said Cassidy. “So I feel very fortunate that I’ve been put in this position, I’ve been playing with phenomenal players for a very long time now and they’re giving me a lot of opportunities. I think a lot of guys when they’re in that situation, they’re able to have good years and good careers. So I think I just benefit from that.
That’s the perfect example of the overall production that Marchand brings to the table with his 28 goals and 66 points in 51 games, and also to his ability to consistently come through in clutch situations for the Black and Gold. Marchand essentially refused to lose when he kept responding to every goal scored by Detroit, and in doing so showed that he can be a high-powered threat with David Pastrnak even if Bergeron is missing the equation for part of the playoffs.
“I appreciate all of it. I’ve known Brad a long time. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he plays the game, and the way he conducts himself as a person, as a pro. We need it. I was chuckling after the game because, you know, there he is, the puck finds him,” said Bruce Cassidy. “But he’s on [the puck], [he] doesn’t quit, and made some real nice plays tonight. Him and Pasta [David Pastrnak], I thought, really had their thing going right now, and Riley’s [Nash] complemented them. It’s worked out well.”
Given the gaudy goal totals and the impressive 1.25 points per game he’s averaging this season, Marchand certainly has a growing argument that he should be considered for the Hart Trophy his season despite missing games due to injuries. That may or may not happen given Marchand’s reputation around the league characterized by suspensions, big time scoring in all situations and plenty of chirping over the years.
But the Nose Face Killah won’t be changing his ways or lessening the intense way he competes at crunch time with an intrepid work ethic, a lack of slack in the swaggering, scoring style and a penchant for timely goals that rolls right into being one of the NHL’s best players this season.
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