On Saturday afternoon, the stage was set for Brad Marchand to play the role of hero once again for the Boston Bruins.
Trailing the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, the 26-year-old winger scored arguably the most important goal of Boston’s season.
Marchand deflected a Dougie Hamilton’s shot behind Philadelphia Flyers netminder Steve Mason, tying the game at two with just under 15 seconds remaining. TD Garden went into raptures as he scored only his second power-play goal of the season, sending the game to overtime.
Boston’s number 63 proceeded to score the game-winning-goal with just over a minute remaining in the extra session, giving the Bruins an unlikely 3-2 victory. His shorthanded goal against Detroit in a 5-3 victory on Sunday gives Marchand 22 goals on the season. In his last four games, the left-winger has scored a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal, and two game-winning-goals, propelling Boston to a 3-1-0 record in that span.
Marchand has been no stranger to scoring clutch goals the past few seasons. His two-goal performance in game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver was a sign of things to come for the Halifax, Nova Scotia native. Saturday’s OT winner was his third of the season, tying him with John Tavares, Daniel Sedin, Sean Monahan, and Oliver-Ekman Larsson for the league lead in overtime goals as of Monday. Marchand leads the club with five game-winners this season, marking the third consecutive season he has achieved that feat.
The left winger has also displayed something that has been hard to come by for Boston recently. Marchand reached the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career on Saturday. He narrowly missed out on a fifth 20-goal campaign during the lockout-shortened year of 2013 when he scored 18 goals from 45 games. Marchand is the closest thing to a pure finisher on the squad with his quick release and ability to pick the corners with consistent accuracy.
Playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith recently, Marchand has developed chemistry with his linemates on the ice leading Boston’s defacto top-line with David Krejci recovering from a knee injury. It is no coincidence that both Marchand (22) and Bergeron (18) rank one and two in terms of goals and points on the Bruins this season. They may not be lighting it up on the scoreboard in terms of their point totals, but in a system that preaches two-way responsibility, both forwards are a perfect match for coach Claude Julien and his style of play.
The biggest asset for Marchand, however, may be his ability to stir the pot and irritate opponents. The five-foot-nine-inch pest is often seen sticking his nose in the dirty areas in front of goal, around the corners, and does not mind playing a physical game, demonstrated by his team-leading 82 penalty minutes this season. Marchand relishes the role of getting under the skin of opposition, earning him the moniker of “the rat”.
One of Marchand’s most memorable encounters came against Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban in October of 2011. The duo was at each other’s throats most of the night and, when exiting the box after matching minors, decided to settle their differences with a fight in front of the TD Garden crowd. Marchand proved that night that although he is small, he is also fierce.
Run-Ins with DoPS
Marchand’s style of play has also made him familiar with the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety. The repeat offender was slapped with a $2,600 fine for a slew-foot in 2011, a five-game suspension for a low hit on Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo, and a two-game ban for a slew-foot on New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard back in January. Marchand has developed a tendency to be on the wrong side of reputation calls because of his past transgressions with the league. It is a part of his game that sometimes has fans pulling their hair in frustration given his skill level.
At a cap hit of $4.5 million for the next two seasons, Brad Marchand’s contract is affordable for the Bruins given what he offers the club. His ability to score clutch goals in big games and sprinkle in some nastiness for good measure makes him the prototypical player that others would love to have on their team but hate to play against.
This season may be a glimpse of bigger and better things to come for the man his teammates call the “Nose Face Killah”.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW