WILMINGTON, Mass. – Unlike some celebrities – and I’m not naming any names – that are out of control and don’t know it, Bruins forward Brad Marchand knows there are times he needs his teammates or coaches to pull back the reins on him a bit.
Friday night on Long Island was one of those times. And Bruins head coach Claude Julien obliged the rookie by benching the speedy winger for the third period of Boston’s 4-2 loss.
Marchand had taken a bad penalty — which was part caused by a bad break with a hard-around pass hitting the referee, and part cause by Marchand anticipating instead of reacting along the wall – late in the second period. The Islanders used the man-advantage to score and build momentum prior to their third-period comeback.
“That was tough. I know there’s a message to be sent there, that I’ve taken a lot of bad penalties lately and I think they just want to kind of clamp down on it and kind of send a message before it gets out of hand,” Marchand told TheBruinsBlog.net in a 1-on-1 chat after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “I think it was a good time to do it. I got two bad penalties in a row, two games in a row, where they scored on them and they were pretty big goals. That goal [Friday] changed the whole game around, changed the momentum and it was tough. So I understand the situation. But I’ve got to rebound and show that I know why it happened and be better.”
Marchand also took a third-period tripping penalty against Buffalo Thursday. The Sabres went on a 5-on-3 advantage and scored the tying goal in their overtime victory.
When you’ve been an agitating type of player your whole life, old habits die hard. Marchand had pretty much toned down his act this season until recently. His increased discipline level has combined with his scoring hands (19 goals) to make him a second-line performer, a key penalty-killer and a sometimes participant in the power play. With five minor penalties in the last eight Boston games, Marchand could tell he was starting to regress to his former overly rambunctious self.
“I knew I was getting a little hot-headed lately and I was taking penalties that I haven’t taken all year. I was kind of getting out of my element a bit,” he admitted. “I do have to settle down a bit. I think I’m trying to play the [agitator] role more than I need to, than I have in the past 50 games. So if I get back to playing the way I was before, play disciplined, I think everything should be OK.”
It’ll help matters if Marchand can get back on the scoring track. He’s been stuck on 19 goals for eight games now, and his line with center Patrice Bergeron and either Mark Recchi or Rich Peverley on the other wing has become a non-factor on the score sheet. Marchand sounded upbeat today about the number of chances the line has been getting and was downright sunny about the fact that “it’s just a matter of time before it starts going our way.”
Julien believes that too, and also attributes Marchand’s increased hot-headedness the scoring woes of the last couple weeks.
“I think the reason you’re seeing what you’re seeing right now is he seems a little frustrated. I think we all know why. He hasn’t scored in a while and from 19 to 20 [goals], it’s a big thing for him,” said the coach. “There’s no doubt there’s some frustration there. And that’s where he’s got to get better as a professional player and say ‘you know what, those things will come. And I can’t let the rest of my game be affected by that.’ So he’s working his way through that and we’ve had that chat before and he’s just got to stay with his program and our program because he’s been a really good player for us. And he’s got to remain that way. That’s the part that right now has been hurting him and that’s probably what’s caused him to take some of those penalties as well.”
The coach showed he wasn’t holding a grudge by skating Marchand back with Bergeron and Peverley during practice today. If Marchand has learned his lesson, he’ll keep his nose clean as far as the extracurricular activities and get it dirty digging for a goal or two. Then once again he’ll be one of the Bruins’ most important offensive weapons.