Brad Marchand certainly has built a reputation as a “little ball of hate” and a “rat” on the ice over the course of his NHL career, but the 2018-19 season was different.

The Boston Bruins winger wasn’t fined or suspended once this year, and detailed how the “licking incident” last May led him to really change the way he played the game. It certainly showed, as the 30-year-old became the first Bruin to amass 100 points since Joe Thornton did it during the 2002-03 season.

Head coach Bruce Cassidy had high praise for Machand, saying that although he still had a few hot-headed moments, the winger was “true to his words.”

“I think it’s great, because last year he stood up and said he was going to do that and I’m sure he’s had his doubters,” Cassidy said, via Boston Sports Journal’s Conor Ryan. “You can make an argument that he’s still been in hot water a few times, but he’s kept his nose clean, true to his words. I don’t think he’s even been close to anything that you’d say, ‘Well, what’s going on?’ ‘He’s going to go over the edge.’

“He’s had games where he’s been upset, but every player goes through that. He’s got right back on the rails and been a real good player for us. He backed it up. So now, in the playoffs now, hopefully, Toronto doesn’t have some gameplan to get him off.

“I can’t imagine he would go down that road anyway. I think he understands how valuable he is to the team and how he’s been able to keep it clean for six, seven months.”

Boston certainly will need its top-line winger to keep the clean slate as the Bruins begin their quest for the Stanley Cup on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images