The Little Ball of Hate earns his nickname every time he steps on the ice and just about every player on the Penguins would most certainly agree.
As would members of the Maple Leafs, Rangers and just about every other team in the NHL, AHL and QMJHL.
Brad Marchand has been playing with emotion all postseason, and, despite a few “bad penalties” here and there, he’s been one of the best players on the ice.
“He’s just more involved, more confident,” head coach Claude Julien said on Friday afternoon. “But every year in the playoffs, not only does he become a target for other teams, but he responds to it. What he’s got to do is respond to it in a positive way. We saw him in Game 2 where he took off, scored a goal. I think that’s a great way to respond.
“As long as he doesn’t cross the line,” he added, “we’ve got to keep him in check. His emotion is what makes him a real good player. You have to let him play with some emotion. Again, as long as he doesn’t cross the line. …”
Marchand and the B’s have a chance to slam the door on the Pens in Game 4 on Friday night at TD Garden, in a series that has seen Marchand bury two goals, assist on one more and post a plus-5 plus-minus rating to go with six PIMs. When he’s not setting up goals, or finishing them himself, Marchand is out there grinding, chirping, checking and just being the pest that he is — both on the ice and off, apparently.
“Not for long,” Julien said with a laugh when asked if Marchand ever gets under his skin. “When he does, it’s not very long. It gets addressed very quickly.
“All that said, those guys are really good people. I’m sure from other teams, you’re going to hear the same thing. Their emotions are what happens on the ice. But at the same time, I mean, I’ve been hard on them, but hard like any parent would be on their kid growing up. My job is about hockey. He’s been really good about those things. He gets it. That’s why he’s kept improving.”