PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers learned the hard way on Saturday afternoon that you wouldn’t want to play Brad Marchand after you get him angry.
Marchand was blasted by an Ivan Provorov check to the head early in the game that knocked him out for the rest of the first period, and inexplicably got cross-checked by Shayne Gostisbehere when the Flyers on the power play in the second period. In between he played a starring role in a pair of second-period goals that helped the 3-0 final score over the Flyers after returning to the ice with a vengeful attitude once he knew he’d be okay.
“A little bit. I was a little bit frustrated. I think been hit more this year than every other year of my career combined. I just need to do a better job of keeping my head up,” said a smirking Marchand. “I felt fine. I more just got it in the mouth and in the nose, which I guess is to be expected.”
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Marchand is exactly right. He got dinged up weeks ago after a heavy check from Capitals hard-hitter Tom Wilson and then again during a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs when Leo Komarov tagged him a couple of times as well.
That’s a lot of abuse before even considering Provorov’s actions stepping up and crunching Marchand when he got caught with his head down. That’s far too much wear and tear considering how valuable Marchand is to the Bruins in his do-everything role, and how much trouble they’d be in without him this season.
Marchand started his assault on the Flyers with a nifty little face-off play in the offensive zone. Patrice Bergeron lost the draw, but Marchand jumped right in between a group of stunned Philly skaters and quickly fed the puck to David Pastrnak waiting to shoot it from the slot. Pastrnak buried it past Brian Elliott for his 13th goal of the season, and the Bruins doubled their lead in the middle period.
He wasn’t done yet, however, as he got into the goal-scoring action in the second period as well. Marchand cut to the net and took a high-to-low pass from Charlie McAvoy that allowed him to shovel a puck past Elliott for a commanding three-goal lead. Shortly after that Gostisbehere cross-checked Marchand's hand after an innocent dump-in to the Flyers zone, and in doing so completely wiped out a Philly power play.
“He always plays with that edge, and people get angry with him on the other team,” said Tuukka Rask. “They take runs at him, and he doesn’t let that bother him. Some years ago he might have let his game slip a little bit, but now he just goes back out there and puts it in the net. That’s the best way to do it, right?”
It was a dumb play by Gostisbehere to be sure, but it also showed that Marchand had passed on his anger to a Flyers group that was about to lose their 10th game in a row. That’s the revenge served cold that No. 63 was looking for after returning from the first intermission, and exactly the kind of thing that fires up his teammates once they see that he’s okay.
“It looked like a high hit. I thought it was a dangerous hit that should have been more than two minutes. He’s been knocked around a bit this year, and obviously gets targeted just like [David Pastrnak]. We’ll have to address that, but it was nice to see him bounce back,” said Cassidy. “He’s a top end guy for us that does everything.”
Given that Marchand missed eight out of ten games while in the concussion protocol prior to his latest return to the lineup, there should be some concern about how the Bruins are going to protect both No. 63 and No. 88 as they continue to dominate offensively. It doesn’t help that tough guy Adam McQuaid is injured and unable to currently help protect those two skill players, but the Bruins need to start considering perhaps the addition of a little more toughness to the lineup if the current group can’t start discouraging some of the increased cheap shots and heavy hits.
Maybe the return of David Backes and the presence of the ultra-tough Kevan Miller is enough to go along with captain Zdeno Chara on the B’s roster, but it certainly feels like other teams aren’t exhibiting any trepidation taking runs at Marchand right now.
Above and beyond that the Bruins are doing what they should when a team targets a player, and that means watching a guy like Marchand exact his revenge with explosive offense rather than his own brand of on-the-edge antics.