There is no question that Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is pressing a little bit after failing to convert on some point blank chances against the Detroit Red Wings. Despite the Bruins winning the series 4-1 against Detroit, Marchand was a minus-1 in the five games, with no points and took penalties in three of the five games.
The Bruins’ third leading scorer during the regular season is in a tie for last on the team heading into the second round of the playoffs. Marchand has always been a streaky player and so far in the playoffs that has not changed. Marchand was not a big factor in the first round of the playoffs, but he will play a much bigger role in the Bruins’ upcoming series with the Montreal Canadiens because of the many facets to his game.
When he is at the top of his game, Marchand can carry the Bruins offensively with his ability to not only puck handle around the defense, but also finish around the net. In fact, he is one of the few Bruins skaters that can create their own offense. That scoring ability will be big in this series as Boston will be playing against an underrated defensive team in Montreal. The Habs are thought of as a team with excellent skating defensemen, which is true, but they were also eighth in the NHL allowing just 2.45 goals per game. If Marchand can get some of the scoring chances he got in the Detroit series and finish them, he can be a very big factor in the Bruins winning this series.
Another aspect of Marchand’s game that makes him an important player in this series is his play on the penalty kill. Marchand is great at creating offensive opportunities when the Bruins are down a man, as he led the NHL in shorthanded goals with five. The Canadiens are a team that will give up some shorthanded opportunities as well, finishing in a tie for 20th in the league with eight shorthanded goals allowed. Even when Marchand does not score he is still an effective penalty killer, skating the puck out of the defensive zone and killing time.
The biggest reason why Marchand is the Bruins’ x-factor heading into the Montreal series is his ability to be an agitator out on the ice. It also happens to be Marchand’s most unpredictable trait because it can be a good and bad thing for Boston. When he is getting underneath the skin of the opponent and drawing them into mistakes and cheap shots he creates more scoring opportunities for Boston. Sometimes, however, he can be a little too aggressive and it can cost the Bruins when it results in him taking a penalty. In this series especially, Marchand needs to be careful not to take his role as agitator too far because the Canadiens have been known for flopping on occasion and drawing penalties on their opponents.
The rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will begin another chapter later this week when their second round playoff series gets underway. There will be many storylines throughout the series and the play of Marchand is just a piece of the puzzle. His play, however, will prove to be the x-factor in the series. If Marchand can capitalize on the scoring opportunities he creates with his excellent offensive ability it will go a long way in the Bruins winning the series. If Marchand is out there taking bad penalties however, he could be a detriment to Boston and put his team on the penalty kill due to undisciplined play.