At the beginning of the 2020-21 shortened 56-game regular season, there were questions surrounding whether or not Boston Bruins first-line left wing Brad Marchand would be able to begin the season as he was recovering from offseason surgery for a sports hernia. As training camp went along at Warrior Ice Arena, the news kept getting better and better that Marchand would be able to play in the season opener on Jan. 14 against the New Jersey Devils.
With 2019-20 leading scorer David Pastrnak also out recovering from offseason hip surgery, Marchand carried the load for the Bruins through their first 13 games and led them to an NHL-best, 10-1-2, start in the MassMutual East Division. In 43 of Boston’s 45 games this season, Marchand (who missed two games because of a false positive COVID-19 test) has taken the reigns as a leader on the ice while running away in leading the Black and Gold in points and production. While his name will not be at the top of the list for candidates for the Hart Memorial Trophy, there is no question that the Bruins 12-year veteran should be on the list.
Marchand’s Value to the Bruins
Despite their strong start to the season, the Bruins hit some rough patches during the middle of the season, which saw them fall down to fourth-place in the division. They had to deal with a COVID-19 break of one week in the middle of March, as well as early schedule disruptions in February due to opponents dealing with their own COVID-19 shutdowns. Despite all of that, Marchand has been without a doubt the most important member of the Bruins.
Yes, Marchand is a big key to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak, but it’s what other areas he contributes to the team that is just as important. He plays on the first power play unit, but more importantly, he anchors the top penalty-killing unit with Bergeron and the duo has some pretty impressive numbers this season shorthanded. They are a big reason by Boston has the top-ranked penalty-kill in the NHL.
Marchand and Bergeron each have three shorthanded goals, with one of Marchand’s a game-winner in the third period of an April 6 game against the Philadelphia Flyers that broke a 2-2 tie in a 4-2 win in rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman’s debut. Marchand has also assisted on all three of Bergeron’s shorthanded tallies.
Pastrnak and Bergeron lead the Bruins in power play goals with six each, but Marchand leads the Bruins with 12 power play assists to go along with his three man-advantage goals. Boston’s power play has not been as productive as it was in 2019-20 when they finished second to the Edmonton Oilers in the shortened 70-game season. They are currently ranked 11th in the league, but without Marchand, who knows where they would be.
Marchand leads the Bruins with 25 goals and 32 assists for a team-high 57 points. He is tied with Connor McDavid of the Oilers for third in the league in goals, nine behind the runaway leader, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marchand is already guaranteed to finish the season averaging over a point-per-game and he currently is averaging 1.36, good enough to for sixth in the league. He is fifth at 0.51 in goals created per game and he is also tied with teammate Craig Smith for the team-lead with four game-winning goals. Boston’s top-six forwards have been hot in the last week, and it’s no surprise that is Marchand leading the way. He has six goals and three assists since April 15.
Marchand Continues to Be a Strong Two-Way Player
In his career, Marchand is always making plays in all three zones for the Bruins and this season is no exception. He currently leads Boston and is tied for second in the league with a plus/minus of plus-25, while he has a 59.9 Corsi-for percentage (CF%) and a 60.4 Fenwick-for percentage (FF%). He currently has a career-high shot-for percentage (SF%) at 23.4.
In his career, Marchand, who is averaging just over 19 minutes a night this season, has always been a good two-way player for the Bruins, having a knack to score timely goals, while getting back and disrupting the opponent’s rush. He is a prominent player for the Bruins, whether it’s 5-on-5, on the power play, or shorthanded.
Marchand Deserves Consideration for Hart Trophy
Is Marchand the leader for the Hart Trophy? No. But there is no denying that he should be considered for the award. There is no question that he is the most valuable player on the Bruins this season. They are currently in fourth place in the East Division, ahead of the New York Rangers for the final postseason spot. Without Marchand, there’s a good chance that they would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs. He may not a popular choice for the award, but there’s no question that he should be in the conversation.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.