Brad Marchand loves to chirp opposing players.
Unfortunately for him, the New York Rangers don’t have too many players that share that hobby. And even if they did, Marchand says the referees in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been quick to threaten 10-minute misconducts at the slightest hint of trash talk.
Maybe the inability to do his second-favorite thing on a hockey rink factored into Marchand’ recent slump of 11 games without a goal. But the Bruins’ regular-season goals leader made a major statement Thursday against the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden.
He got to do his favorite on-ice thing and scored. Marchand buried the game-winning goal in overtime at the end of a 2-on-2 with center Patrice Bergeron.
“A little bit, but I’m playing some minutes out there, so getting a little bit tired. Don’t need to be chirping,” said Marchand when asked if the lack of talk to fire him up was slowing him down.
There has been speculation about Marchand playing hurt. He added to that Thursday morning when he bailed out of the morning skate before it was over and looked like he was in pain. The only thing he hurt in Game 1 was New York, with his goal, three shots on net and three takeaways.
It was a performance coach Claude Julien called one of Marchand’s best in these playoffs. It wasn’t too hard to top what Marchand did against Toronto in the first round because he was goal-less in seven games. What’s most important though is he kept his confidence up and didn’t lose his focus. In his younger days, Marchand might’ve hung his head. He may even have picked up a penalty or worse by letting out his frustrations in the wrong way.
Bergeron said he wasn’t worried about his longtime linemate because he’d been acting more his age rather than his reputation.
“I wasn’t [worried]. I think he was doing a good job of staying in the game, also,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes it’s about, he was playing a good game and he was in the game, he didn’t need to get under the other guys’ skin because he was in the moment, I thought. I also told him to keep playing that way. He knows when to do it and when not, and I thought he did a good job.”
At this rate, it might be up to other teams to get under Marchand’s skin to throw him off his game. Leo Komarov with Toronto might’ve succeeded in that a little bit in the opening round. It remains to be seen which Rangers player might take a run at Marchand. It might not even matter.
Marchand escaped the shortened 2013 regular season without a suspension or a benching. He didn’t cost the Bruins any wins with any bad penalties. That’s a first in his brief NHL career. Now he’s carried over his discipline into the playoffs. And his game has finally caught up to his maturity. This could be the new Marchand. It could be one even better than the one that starred during the run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
That would be something to chirp about.