WILMINGTON, Mass. — Brad Marchand missed practice on Friday as he continues to battle a flu bug that kept him out of Thursday's 9-0 win over Calgary, but Bruins coach Claude Julien expects his team's spark plug to be back in the lineup on Saturday.
"He's feeling better," Julien said after the workout at Ristuccia Arena. "We just kept him away from the team because we certainly don't want to spread that around, but he'll probably skate [later Friday], but on his own. [Saturday] I don't see him being a question mark, but who knows? Right now we anticipate him playing."
It's no surprise that Marchand would find a way to get back in time for one of the most highly-anticipated regular-season games in recent memory with Vancouver coming to the Garden for a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final.
What may be a bit surprising is that at least one Canuck is hoping that Marchand is on the ice on Saturday.
"He's a good player for that team," Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin said after his club practiced Friday afternoon at Harvard University. "You always want to play the best players and the best teams. That's why you play hockey. It should be fun."
Last year's Final wasn't much fun for Sedin. Not only did the Canucks lose in seven games, but Sedin was punished physically and humiliated by Marchand on two memorable occasions.
In Game 4 at the Garden with the Bruins leading comfortably in the closing minutes, Marchand was a one-man wrecking crew as he picked up three minor penalties on one play by clothes-lining Christian Ehrhoff, submarining Sedin when he came charging in for a hit in retaliation, then wrestling with Keith Ballard.
The hip check sending Sedin head over heels behind the net was the biggest infraction of the sequence, but paled in comparison to Marchand's Game 6 antics. Late in that game, he speed-bagged Sedin with a series of gloved punches. Sedin was heavily criticized for not fighting back, meekly accepting the abuse while pleading for help from the referees. Marchand ended up getting just a minor for roughing for all those punches, with both Marchand and Sedin also drawing 10-minute misconducts.
After the game, Marchand was unrepentant, admitting that Sedin had done nothing to provoke the attack — "He didn't say anything. He was just kind of taking it." — and that Marchand had done it simply, "because I felt like it."
There could be more rough stuff in store on Saturday, but Sedin didn't sound worried.
"Both teams want to get the two points," Sedin said. "Whatever happens, happens. We know at home they play physical, and that's something we have to be prepared for. If we play our game and play our best, we'll have a chance."
The Canucks will need Sedin to play something closer to his best than he did last spring. After leading the league with 41-63-104 totals in the regular season, he managed just 1-3-4 and was a minus-5 in seven games against the Bruins.
Marchand, meanwhile, had 5-2-7 totals and was a plus-6 in the series. Perhaps more impressively, Marchand also finished with less penalty minutes, accumulating 22 minutes in the sin bin to Sedin's 24, proving that in hockey at least, turning the other cheek isn't always the most rewarding course of action.