Brad Marchand is starting to hit his stride with the Boston Bruins, and that's bad news for the rest of the NHL.
The veteran left wing returned to the Bruins lineup on Oct. 27, which was a few weeks earlier than initially expected following his rehab from offseason hip surgery. Even though Marchand's stats overall were pretty good over his first month of action -- 18 points in the first 14 games -- a lot of that offensive production (12 points, to be exact) came on the power play. Producing at 5-on-5 was more of a challenge for Marchand.
That's no longer the case.
Marchand extended his point streak to five games in Saturday night's 4-2 road win over the San Jose Sharks. He opened the scoring just 63 seconds into the game with a gorgeous end-to-end rush and a pretty finish.
He also picked up assists on both of David Pastrnak's goals -- a power-play tally in the second period and an even-strength goal in the third period.
"I don't know where he finds the reserve in his tank, but it lets me know -- and we've been seeing it ever since Christmas break, I think Brad has been our best player since the Christmas break," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters after Saturday's victory. "I think his training camp is over and he’s ready to roll."
The Christmas break ended Dec. 27 when the Bruins played the Ottawa Senators on the road. From that point, Marchand leads all Bruins players with nine points (three goals, six assists) in six games. His six 5-on-5 points also led the team during that span.
Bruins became second-fastest NHL team to achieve this milestone
Marchand ranks second on the Bruins in both assists with 24 and points with 36, even though he's missed eight of Boston's 39 games. He's well on his way to scoring above a point-per-game rate for the seventh consecutive season.
It was always going to take a while for Marchand to ramp up to 100 percent fitness and get back to an elite level. There were some challenging games for him along the way, but recently the 33-year-old veteran has reminded everyone why he's been the best all-around left wing in the league over the last couple seasons.
Marchand's impressive improvement is going to make the Bruins an even stronger team down the stretch as they try to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and others for the top record in the Eastern Conference.