Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand appears to be gaining confidence and the result is a better performance from the winger. That, or he’s starting to play better and he’s gaining confidence. Regardless, Marchand is starting to produce and the Bruins are obviously a better team because of it.
Marchand had arguably his best game of the season Sunday afternoon in Chicago in a Stanley Cup Final rematch between two of the league’s best teams. The Bruins came out on the the short end in a shootout loss, but Marchand’s production alone should be enough to make Boston feel good about itself as the B’s head home.
The Bruins were certainly in position to beat the Blackhawks, and that was thanks in large part to Marchand. The agitating forward scored the Bruins’ three goals — two in regulation and one in the shootout — but that alone wasn’t enough to clip the Blackhawks. The goals are obviously nice, but the best part of Marchand’s game Sunday was what he was able to do in all facets of the game.
Marchand got the Bruins on the board in the final minute of the first period by playing strong two-way hockey. He won a puck battle along the boards in the neutral zone and made a nice play to tip the puck to Patrice Bergeron. Marchand stayed with the play and jumped into the rush which allowed Bergeron to backhand a pass to Marchand as the two entered the offensive zone. Marchand quickly snapped a shot by Corey Crawford, beating the Chicago goalie to the blocker-side to tie the game 1-1.
He picked up right where he left off in the second period, too. Marchand needed just 50 seconds to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. The Blackhawks got caught in a sloppy change, and Marchand got behind the the Chicago defense. He took a cross-ice pass from Reilly Smith and walked in all alone on Crawford. That’s where Marchand showed incredible patience. He waited out Crawford and finally made the goalie open his pads and then slid the puck through Crawford’s legs.
Marchand’s contributions extended beyond the stat sheet, too. The forward actually generated a couple of scoring chances on the penalty kill as well, and he was buzzing around the net all day. He was also back to his agitating ways, which even drew a penalty on Brent Seabrook in the third period. The Bruins weren’t able to convert on that power play — they were 0-for-3 on the afternoon — but it’s a good sign to see Marchand using that ability to get under the opposition’s skin for good.
A performance like Sunday’s isn’t exactly surprising. Marchand has been playing much better as of late after a really disappointing start to the season. The forward now has 14 goals on the season, which ranks him second on the club. That’s in large part because he has four goals in his last three games and has found the back of the net nine times in his last 14 games.
The overall result Sunday wasn’t what the Bruins wanted. However, they got a point against one of the league’s best teams, and they played a strong game overall. The fact that Marchand is starting to hit his stride again can’t be overstated, either.