The always-feisty Brad Marchand showed some unmistakable signs of frustration in the shutout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday afternoon. At one point in the second period, he fired a stick down the runway from the Bruins bench after hopping over the boards at the end of an unproductive shift. In that fit of puck pique, he looked much more like an Olympian javelin thrower than an NHL player.
Perhaps some of it was about Marchand getting the “A” on his sweater to start this season and the Bruins left winger showing some emotion and a little fire on the bench after not nearly enough was being displayed on the ice in a weak loss.
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Some of it was probably about missing his partner-in-crime Patrice Bergeron for the first couple of games with no real indication when he’ll be back from his lower body injury.
A good deal was also just plain, old frustration from Marchand, who has just a single shot on net in each of the first two games. He has a goal thanks to his empty-netter at the end of Boston’s opening night win, but aside from that, the Nose Face Killah really hasn’t gotten untracked offensively.
“[The Colorado loss] was a tough game. It was one of those ones where I was making some bad decisions and really fighting the puck a bit,” said Marchand, who had three turnovers in the loss while not showing the usual moxie and energy that colors his game. “But it’s one you have to learn from. The good thing about this game is that you have [Wednesday in Colorado] where you can get back at it and keep working on your game. That was a learning experience. One I’d like to forget, but that’s hockey.
“It’s going to happen that guys are going to be in and out of the lineup during the year, and you’ve got to adjust to skating with different players. That’s just the way it goes. Obviously, we’d love to have Bergeron back in the lineup and it will happen at some point, but we still have to build chemistry and do the job with whoever we’re playing.”
It's certainly been difficult for No. 63 to skate without Bergeron and with rotating centers Ryan Spooner, David Krejci and Riley Nash as Bruce Cassidy looks to find a combo that works for his leading scorer.
Marchand has traditionally been a slow starter for the Bruins, aside from last season when he was still warmed up from the World Cup of Hockey, and it’s clear that the B’s need him now more than ever with Bergeron and David Backes out of the lineup.
Cassidy said he has complete faith that Marchand bounce back on the upcoming three-game trip and there’s ample evidence he will do it quickly coming off a Hart Trophy-level season last year.
“He’ll always get attention, so I think he’s used to that. He knows he’s going to see the best D-pair every night, especially if he’s playing with [Pastrnak],” said Cassidy of Marchand, who has averaged 38 goals and 73 points the past two seasons. “Missing his buddy helps [keep him quiet]…the guy that he plays very well with. Absolutely. So the onus falls on him to play through that, and that really matters.
“[Marchand] knows that he can be better. We’ve discussed it and he will be. That guy figures stuff out and he’s going to play. He’ll play well for us, and he knows we need him now maybe more than other days because of who we’re missing from our lineup. I expect him to be really good in our next game.”
There are times Marchand can be streaky, but you can also normally count on him for a strong response when he’s authored a particularly poor game. That should be the case when the Bruins take the ice in Colorado on Wednesday night looking to humble the team that did that to them on Monday.