Brad Marchand and the rest of the Black Aces — the Providence Bruins players that serve as the emergency squad — have enjoyed being up in the show during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They know that practicing and being around the excitement of the playoffs will prove to be an invaluable experience, but sooner or later, it’s only natural that they get antsy and yearn for a chance to prove they belong in the NHL.
On Thursday, the pesky winger from Halifax, Nova Scotia, found himself skating with the regulars as head coach Claude Julien did some line-shuffling. Marchand split time with Daniel Paille on the left wing of a line centered by Vladimir Sobotka, with Michael Ryder on the right wing. Marchand was obviously happy to be getting time on a regular line, but he has no idea whether he will be there when the Bruins take the ice for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers at the TD Garden on Friday.
"I’m ready, if so,” Marchand said when asked if he had been told he would be in the lineup for Game 7. "It is definitely harder watching. You want to go out and help as much as you can. I would be very happy, very excited. I have been staying in shape and stuff and if I get the call, I will be ready."
Marchand was known as a pest during his junior days with Moncton, Val-d'Or and Halifax, the three teams he played for in the QMJHL. That has been an area in which the Bruins have been invisible, while Mike Richards and the Flyers have driven the B's nuts, goading them into retaliatory penalties.
While Marchand would gladly jump into that role for his team, there is fine line to walk in the playoffs.
"The trouble with that is that sometimes you get dumb penalties, and I know that is something we want to stay away from," he said. "We kind of let them do that and not focus on that tomorrow. We just want to play our game, and if we do that, we will be better off."
Marchand has proven in the past that he can elevate his game in a pressure-cooker atmosphere like the postseason, as he helped Canada win two World Junior Championship. He played with Moncton in the Memorial Cup in 2006, and he totaled 40 points with Val-d'Or in the 2007 QMJHL playoffs.
"I love big games, that’s when I’m at best," Marchand said. "That’s why you play, to play in games like this. It would be a lot of fun for sure."