WILMINGTON, Mass. – Knowing that Bruins forward Brad Marchand can be equally as sour-milk repulsive to referees as he is to opponents, it was fair to deduce that the kneeing penalty called against the rookie Saturday night was more about reputation than actual fact.
After all, replays showed that Marchand upended New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus with a clean hip check as the Devils forward carried the puck across his own blue line.
But Marchand didn’t draw a correlation between the bum call and the agitating reputation he has built up in the American Hockey League and continues to nurture in the NHL.
“I think the biggest thing is they thought it might’ve been dirty. I hit him low,” said Marchand after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “He’s 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, and I’m only 5-foot-8. I kind of clipped him a little low and the ref made a decision. You live with it. But I don’t think that’s being on the bad side of the refs.
“There’s been times already this season when [head coach] Claude [Julien] has told me to settle down a bit and the refs have told him I’m going to get a penalty if I keep doing the things I’m doing. I just kind of have to watch that, but that hit wasn’t part of that, I don’t think.”
Marchand said the coaches let him know later in the game that he wasn’t at fault on the play, which put the Bruins down 5-on-3 for 1:20. Boston killed the penalty off, and Marchand marched on playing his usual brand of gritty, bend-the-line hockey. He even added an assist later.
So Julien isn’t going to ask his pesky winger to alter his approach.
“I think it’s a situation where he has to play his game. He went in and to us it seemed like a clean hit. If it’s perceived another way, you know you’re going to get some tough calls all year long,” said the coach. “And the good part about it is we knew all along, in our minds, it was a clean hit. And it was a tough call for him. It was up to the rest of the team to kind of bail him out and they did. So I’m not going to ask him to change his style. He’s doing what he does pretty well and that’s why he’s in our lineup right now. I’m certainly going to look at that as a negative as much as ‘keep playing your game’ and hopefully the referees make the right calls.”
As Marchand pointed out, his size disadvantage leaves him with little choice than to sometimes go at an opponent low. The risk of a call against him won’t stop him from continuing to practice the lost art of the hip check.
“They look pretty good when you can catch one,” he said. “But they can be dangerous at times too. You’ve just got to watch it.”