BOSTON — Tampa Bay limited him to no shots on goal and victimized him for a minus-2 rating in last night’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, but Bruins forward Brad Marchand said today the Lightning didn’t contribute to his second-period meltdown.
With the Bruins en route to a 5-2 loss, Marchand used a skate to the bench in the middle stanza as an opportunity to shatter his stick against both the glass and the boards in a fit that was loud enough to be heard over the noise of the sellout crowd at the TD Garden.
“They weren’t frustrating me. I was frustrating myself,” said Marchand today when he was one of a few players available to speak on an off day for the team. “Things I was trying to do weren’t working and it just didn’t seem like things were clicking and it infuriated me a bit. But for the most part, they were staying away. I think they knew I was going to try to poke at guys and they were just walking away.”
Through the first 11 Bruins postseason games, Marchand was a point-per-game player with five goals. So it stands to reason that Game 1 against the Lightning was his worst playoff performance to date.
“For sure it was,” he admitted. “I didn’t make as many plays as I could’ve. I didn’t really make any hits and it was just one of those games. They can’t all be perfect games. I tried to work hard but that stuff happens. You have to bounce back.”
Marchand threw three hits and started the night babbling at Tampa Bay center Vinny Lecavalier. But he did little to get the Lightning star off his game (he was plus-3 with no points) and more resembled a player who had psyched himself out.
Some of Marchand’s ineffectiveness might be attributed to skating with a new center. Chris Kelly filled in for the injured Patrice Bergeron between Marchand and Mark Recchi.
“I thought it was good. I thought we seemed to be all right together,” explained Marchand. “I think as the game went on and as the series goes on, we’ll be more aware of where each other is. For the most part though, I thought the first period we were working hard, we were in their end, we were making plays.
“After that though, pucks just didn’t seem to come to us the way they were in the first. But he’s a good player and I like playing with him. It’s just our chemistry is a little off right now and hopefully another day of practice here [Monday] and come game time Tuesday, we’ll be ready to go.”
Kelly thinks Marchand just needs to lighten up a tad to get back into the flow and produce like he has to for the Bruins to succeed.
“Marchy goes out and plays hard. That’s the type of player he is. Every team would love to have him,” the center said. “Maybe he was putting a little bit too much pressure on himself last night, but he’s an important part of this team. He’s just got to go out there and play. He’s a great player and everyone knows that.”
As for the stick-smashing incident, Marchand brought on the ire of his head coach Claude Julien yet again. Today Marchand rehashed the situations when he called the Montreal Canadiens fakers and divers in a pregame media scrum and gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a mocking golf swing during a game. Julien was none to happy back then.
Today Julien was pretty sure he nipped Marchand’s actions in the bud … again.
“You can’t allow yourself to get frustrated, you have to battle through things,” said the coach. “And he just showed a little bit of frustration and I’m sure you are not going to see that again.”
Marchand wasn’t making any promises today, but he admitted he has to continue to find that line between acceptable behavior and actions that are counterproductive, and toe that line better.
“I know there are consequences when I cross the line,” he said. “I’ve been in trouble before. By no means am I in trouble now, but if that’s something [Julien] said that’s not the first time I’ve hear him say that …”