BOSTON — Dan Bylsma doesn’t see many differences between this season’s Bruins team and the ones Claude Julien coached in years past, despite the fact Boston overhauled its roster this past summer and supposedly was adopting a new, more offensively focused system.
The Buffalo Sabres coach has noticed one change, however.
“I’ve heard a little bit about some of the change in how they’re playing,” Bylsma said Saturday morning as his team prepared to take on the Bruins at TD Garden. “And watching them in their last three games — the two against Pittsburgh and the St. Louis game — I saw a lot of the same. They’re a tough team to play against, good structure in their team game.
“And he didn’t score last game, but I don’t think I’ve seen (Brad) Marchand play with this much confidence and this much skill in how he’s playing.”
Bylsma’s unprompted shout-out illustrates just how impressive a season Marchand is having. Entering Saturday, the winger led all Bruins players in goals with 15 — already more than halfway to his career high of 28 — and ranked fourth on the team with 24 points, trailing only Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.
And given Bylsma’s past experiences with Marchand, that’s high praise.
The feisty forward was a force during the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, when the Bruins steamrolled Bylsma’s old team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to reach their second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons. Marchand scored twice and was a plus-4 in Game 2 of that series, then assisted on the winning goal in both Game 3 and the deciding Game 4.
Marchand also led all Bruins players in penalty minutes during that series, a title he holds so far this season, as well.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand
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