Bruins Core Concerns: Brad Marchand looking to rebound from Game 7 gaffe

Bruins Core Concerns: Brad Marchand looking to rebound from Game 7 gaffe

Today’s piece on Brad Marchand is the third in a 10-part series over the next two weeks breaking down the core Bruins group of players, and where they stand headed into next season after last spring’s Stanley Cup playoff run.

There’s no argument about Brad Marchand being at the height of his playing abilities, and in the very prime of a brilliant career with the Boston Bruins.

Marchand garnered Hart Trophy votes this past season, which might have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago, given his track record for suspensions and brushes with the NHL powers that be in the NHL Player Safety Department.

The 31-year-old Marchand played 79 games while hitting the magical 100-point mark for the first time in his career, and he once again teamed with running mate Patrice Bergeron to be one of the most dynamic duos in the league. More importantly, he avoided getting suspended for the first time in his NHL career and really seemed to find the hockey equilibrium between spiritual leader and smart player staying above the fray with careless penalties or games missed due to discipline.

“He has recognized that he has to walk that line, and it’s a fine line that sometimes you’re going to cross when your wires get crossed upstairs,” said Bruins president Cam Neely in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston. “He did a great job controlling his emotions this year for the most part. That’s tough to do when it’s an emotional game and he’s an emotional player, but there’s a correlation between the season he had and the games that he played.”

Unfortunately, though, such a great season ended on a bummer of a down note for Marchand. It was No. 63 that found himself at the heart of a crushing mistake in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final that really hurt his team in a must-win game. With less than 10 seconds to go in the first period, Marchand retreated to the bench as the Blues were rushing up the ice, and his absence led to an odd-man rush that made it a 2-0 lead for St. Louis headed into the first intermission.

The Bruins had 40 minutes left to play in the game, but they were essentially crushed when one of their best players made such a critical mistake at a key juncture in the game.

It’s something that Marchand took full accountability for in the days following Game 7, though he stopped short of saying it would be a motivating factor for next season.

“It’s something you think about. Part of why we’re such a good great is because we expect to be very good in the big moments and we all expect to come through,” said Marchand. “Personally, I definitely have that thought where I’d like to have been a guy that was a difference-maker. I would like to have been better [in Game 7]. That’s how it plays out sometimes.

“There are a few things [I would have done differently]. A little bit better awareness to know there was only seven seconds left and more aware of the guys coming down the ice. I thought the one guy was by himself. I thought the play was dead, but it obviously wasn’t. It was a bad read. I obviously need to read the situation a little differently. That was the difference. One play can affect an outcome of a game and unfortunately it was a loss.”

Bruins President Cam Neely looked more at the missed scoring opportunities in the first 30 minutes of the game as the area where his hockey club fell short in the winner-take-all Game 7 against the Blues at TD Garden. But there was also little doubt that Marchand’s gaffe on the NHL’s biggest stage will make him an even better player moving forward.

“Knowing Brad, that will bother him, but he’s got to shake it off like we all do,” said Neely. “The rear-view mirror is broken. You can learn from the past, but I don’t want our players dwelling on the past.”

A motivated Marchand hellbent on revenge? That’s something most Bruins fans wouldn’t mind seeing if it means he torches and torments all opponents in his path next year.

Key stat: 23 – Despite slackening just a little bit during the Stanley Cup Final, Marchand finished tied for the NHL lead in postseason scoring with his 23 points in 24 games played. The B’s clearly wouldn’t have even been in Game 7 of the Cup Final if it weren’t for Marchand being the most consistently effective member of the Perfection Line during the postseason.  

Marchand in his own words: “The more time you have to think about, it just gets harder. You start to pick apart everything that you’d like to change. You starting thinking the ‘What ifs.’ It just makes it tough. [Losing Game 7] is going to hurt forever.”  

The biggest question he faces: The biggest question mark facing Marchand is whether he can replicate what he did in 2018-19, or whether the 100-point season was a career year for the Nose Face Killah. Marchand did so many things right for the Bruins at the very pinnacle of his NHL career, and the challenge will be to see if he can surpass, or even match, the magic of last season.

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Slumping Bruins say matchup against Capitals 'should get our attention'

Slumping Bruins say matchup against Capitals 'should get our attention'

The Bruins are always wary going into Capital One Arena given the recent history between the Bruins and Washington Capitals, where the Caps have dominated the Black and Gold for the better part of the last 10 years.

Sure, the Bruins have sprinkled in a win here or there, but the big, fast and skilled Capitals team has routinely pushed Boston around in these matchups between Eastern Conference powers and was the victor in the only recent playoff series between the two teams way back in 2012.

This season, the Capitals and Bruins are No. 1 and No. 2 in the Eastern Conference in terms of record and points through the first two-plus months of the season, and Washington won in a shootout in the teams' only matchup earlier this season in Boston.

Both teams lost in their last games, so there will be hunger for both elite clubs to get back into the win column. But things should be a lttle more desperate for a Bruins team that’s lost three games in a row, including back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season, and has seen their lead in the division “drop” to 10 points with a surging Florida Panthers club chasing them.

“Over the years they have had the better of us, so we’d better be ready to play. Their record this year backs that up,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re more concerned about ourselves, but the opposition tonight should get our attention. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

More than anything, however, the Bruins have seemed to lack focus or motivation in the last couple of weeks with forgettable opponents like the Senators and Blackhawks getting the better of them while they hold a commanding lead in their own division. It goes without saying that the challenge of the big, tough and dangerous Capitals should be exactly what the Bruins need to rise to the occasion, and that will be followed on Thursday night by a date with the Tampa Bay Lighting in Amalie Arena.

“[The Capitals] are obviously very dominant. They’ve had our number over the last several years, so it’s definitely one we tend to pay a little more attention to,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s always a hard building to play in. [It’s] a loud, obnoxious crowd so they gain energy from that. It’s a game we know we have to be prepared for. It doesn’t always go our way, so hopefully this one will.”

If anything can snap the Bruins out of their recent self-induced slumber over the last week, it’s the natural challenge of playing against a Capitals team that’s served as the ultimate challenge for them over most of the last decade.

Watch tonight's Bruins-Capitals game on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m., or live stream the game by clicking here.


Bruins vs. Capitals live stream: Watch NHL game online

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Bruins vs. Capitals live stream: Watch NHL game online

The two-best teams in the Eastern Conference (and perhaps the entire NHL, too) will square off Wednesday night when the Washington Capitals host the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena.

The Capitals lead the league with 49 points and have won seven of their last 10 games. Washington's offense has been red-hot with a league-leading 114 goals scored in 32 games.

The Bruins have 46 points atop the Atlantic Division, but their recent play has failed to impress. The B's have lost three consecutive games, including a lackluster 5-2 defeat to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Wednesday's matchup is the second in a four-game road trip for Boston. This trip also includes tough games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The Capitals have owned this matchup in recent seasons. Washington has won 15 of its last 16 games against Boston, as well as the most recent playoff series between these teams in 2012. 

Will the Bruins end their losing streak and send a message to the rest of the East with a statement win on the Capitals' home ice? Here's how to watch Bruins vs. Capitals on your computer or mobile device.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports

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