Brad Marchand probably doesn’t mind taking a backseat to his good friend and linemate Patrice Bergeron, but the Boston Bruins winger deserves as much credit as anyone for his role in Boston’s miraculous win over the Florida Panthers.
Bergeron played the role of hero with his game-winning goal with just 6.7 seconds to play of Boston’s 4-3 win, but he wouldn’t have had the chance to bury that tally without some incredible work from Marchand.
Marchand was a mainstay in the game’s final moments when the Bruins tied the game with 36.5 seconds left before Bergeron won it in the end. The agitating winger logged a staggering 2 minutes and 27 seconds of ice time in game’s final 2:38.
Marchand was on the ice for an entire power play, and before he could set up Bergeron’s winner, he made a key play on Matt Grzelcyk’s game-tying goal. In the final seconds of Mike Hoffman’s tripping penalty, with Tuukka Rask pulled and Boston holding a 6-on-4 advantage, Marchand made a sneaky smart play to set up Grzelcyk.
After corralling the puck along the boards, Marchand passed to Grzelcyk, who sent it across to Charlie McAvoy. The D-men worked the puck back to Marchand, who got himself into a shooting position with plenty of traffic in front. Marchand held the pose just long enough to move the Panthers’ penalty-killers to his side of the ice before shoveling it back to Grzelcyk at the point, where he now had an open shooting lane.
Grzelyck also deserves credit for getting the shot on net, and give full marks to Charlie Coyle and David Backes for creating net-front traffic in front of Roberto Luongo.
“You know, Marchy kind of hung high and I knew he wasn’t a one-time threat, so I kind of had a feeling he was just going to one-touch it back and try to get it on net, and I think it was (Backes) in front,” Grzelcyk explained to reporters after the game. “Made a great screen and didn’t allow the goalie to get set up.”
Marchand’s work didn’t stop there, though. After a quick 11-second breather, he hopped back over the boards on the ice for one final shift. That shift started in the defensive zone with Marchand on the left wing in the Bruins’ slot with the faceoff coming in the dot to Rask’s right. After Bergeron won the faceoff and worked it up the boards, Marchand sprinted up the ice and to the right wing, where he did just enough to advance the puck through the neutral zone and into the Florida zone.
Marchand then chased the puck down below the left faceoff dot in the Florida zone. Marchand beat Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson to the boards, where he was able to seal off Matheson and win the puck battle.
With just about everyone in a white sweater looking at Marchand and drifting toward him and the puck, it opened a clear spot in the ice for Bergeron. He slid right in and took the simple pass from Marchand and ripped a shot by Luongo for the game-winner.
From one corner of the ice to the other, you’ll have a hard time finding a better example of 200-foot play.
It’s easy to discount a lot of Marchand’s success and skill because he plays with Bergeron, who is considered one of the best two-way players of his generation. Marchand definitely benefits from playing alongside a player like Bergeron. But when you see Marchand do things like this, it’s clear to see Bergeron — and the rest of the Bruins — are also made better by playing with Marchand.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images