From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Brad Marchand.
Marchand, 30, is coming off another Hart Trophy-level season with the Bruins after performing as a point-per-game player and again surpassing the 30-goal plateau. There was also the requisite suspension and extracurricular activities in the playoffs that kept his notorious reputation intact, even if this time it was licking opponent’s faces in a pretty unprecedented move. Marchand was great on the ice, dangerous in all situations and continues to take on more leadership responsibilities as one of the best players on the team. The one question with Marchand is whether he’s ever going to completely clean up his act or if that’s just part of the package with him.
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What Happened Last Year: Marchand a decent chunk of time (14 games) with suspension and injuries, but still managed to crank out 31 goals and 84 points in 68 games for a ridiculously high point-per-game output. Marchand is almost impossible to stop with the puck on his stick. He's tough, clutch and one of the most dangerous game-breakers in the NHL. He plays in all situations, including being a deadly penalty killer. Marchand was also suspended five games for throwing a head shot at New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson, and is very clearly at the end of the rope when it comes to the NHL and supplementary discipline. The Nose Face Killah rebounded well from that suspension and had a strong playoff run with four goals and 17 points in 12 games while dominating long stretches of the Toronto series with his linemates. Marchand a, unfortunately, licked the faces of Leo Komarov and Ryan Callahan, and his hijinks might have cost the Bruins a key call or two late in the Tampa Bay series that ended quickly in five games. Clearly, there were some low points, but all in all, Marchand was again one of the best players in the league and would not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: With Marchand, everybody knows that he’s going to bring his best just about every night. The offense, the two-way play, the grittiness, the energy and the special teams’ dynamics are all part of his nightly bag of tricks, It’s why he should again be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy. Still, Marchand needs to cut the crap with the suspensions and the other extracurriculars that are hurting the Bruins every time he goes over the line. It may be that both go hand-in-hand that the Bruins can’t get the all-around dynamo without the occasional walk on the wild man side, but Marchand has to see just how much of a good NHL citizen he can be while still being himself. The Bruins need him on the ice and they need to keep in the good graces of the officials. A big part of doing that remains within Marchand’s power alone.
In Their Own Words: “I think that our chemistry, and what we’ve been able to [do] the last couple of years - it’s been a lot of fun, for one. But, yeah, I feel very fortunate to be playing on a line like that. You know, I’ve been fortunate to play with some really good players in the past, but we just seem to have a really good chemistry that allows us to be good. So it’s a lot of fun playing with them.” –Brad Marchand, on playing with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on the “Perfection Line” for the bulk of last season, when all three dominated routinely.
Overall Outlook: Marchand is one of the NHL’s best players and one of the big reasons behind the Bruins surge back into the playoff picture the past couple of seasons. His offense, combined with his longtime linemate Patrice Bergeron, powers the Bruins, his special teams play make both units NHL standouts and Marchand is still an incredibly unpredictable force that opposing defenses have to account for. With that comes a lot more defensive attention, of course, and that means staying healthy and out of trouble when the hard hits and physical targeting come his way. Marchand is used to that by now, of course, and just needs to prove he’s maturing with good discipline and playing through any attempts to goad him into doing something suspension-worthy. He’s too good of a player for that. There’s a legitimate question as to whether his perception around the league is ever going to change if he goes on the straight and narrow, but that’s something Marchand will have to find out by keeping his nose clean a little more than in previous seasons.