Following their 3-2 win over the Seattle Kraken Tuesday night, the Boston Bruins entered the 2022 All-Star break, while captain Patrice Bergeron made his way to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the weekend festivities.
Bergeron will be the only member of the Black and Gold participating this weekend at the home of the Vegas Golden Knights. The case could be made that Brad Marchand should be Boston’s All-Star Game participant, but in the big picture, both Marchand and the Bruins will benefit from him getting a break and being off the ice through the weekend.
Marchand Has Been Bruins Best Player
Without a doubt, Marchand has been the Bruins’ best player in the first half of the 2021-22 season. He is one goal behind David Pastrnak for the team lead in goals with 21, he leads the team in assists with 28 and points with 49. All that has been done in just 38 games.
Not only is it his work 5-on-5, but he leads the team in power-play assists with 16 to go along with his six-man-advantage goals. He has two of the three shorthanded goals, with Mike Reilly scoring the other. He does it all for the Bruins at even strength, on the power play, and on the penalty kill.
Not only has it been his ability to score goals, but set them up as well. He has mastered the seam pass on the power play and has been arguably the Bruins’ best playmaker in the last five seasons. Through the first 26 games of the season, it was a struggle for the Black and Gold producing offense, never mind wins. Marchand kept his teammates hanging around in the Eastern Conference and without his production early in the season, there is no telling where Boston would be right now.
Without Marchand, Bruins Are a Different Team
For all the good Marchand that has been this season, it’s no secret that the Bruins are a different team when he’s not on the ice. In late November, he was suspended for three games for a slew-foot on Vancouver Canucks defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson. During that three-game stretch without their first-line left-wing, Boston went 1-1-1, with home losses to the Detroit Red Wings (2-1) and an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning (3-2) sandwiched around a 2-0 road win against the Nashville Predators.
When Marchand returned from his three-game suspension, the Bruins went 2-0-1 on a three-game Western Canada road trip, but after those games, he once again was sidelined. Two days following a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames, the Flames put several members of their roster that played against Boston into COVID-19 protocols. One day later, Marchand entered the league’s protocols and would miss the next two games, losses to the Golden Knights and New York Islanders.
After the Islanders’ loss, the NHL shut down the Bruins until after Christmas, as well as the league a few days later. In the five games Marchand has missed this season, the Black and Gold have gone 1-3-1.
Bruins Get Post-COVID Injury Scare
Boston received a scare against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 20 when Garnet Hathaway hit Marchand from behind into the boards in the second period of a 4-3 Bruins’ victory at the TD Garden. Following the hit, Marchand stayed in the game to play on the ensuing power play, but after 30 seconds, he left the ice and would eventually not return for the third period.
The injury appeared to be serious as Marchand could not even raise his right arm when Pastrnak scored on the power play. It was thought that Marchand would be sidelined for an extended amount of time, but he was able to take part in the pregame skate two days later against the Winnipeg Jets and deemed himself good to play. It’s a good thing he did, as he assisted on Pastrnak’s third-period power play goal in a 3-2 victory.
Since that game, Boston closed out the first half of the season 2-2-1, with Marchand picking up points in each game.
Marchand Needs the Rest
There is no question that Marchand deserves to be playing in the All-Star Game this upcoming weekend. His play this season has earned it. However, the seven-day break that he is going to receive between games is much more important and needed than participating in an All-star Game. Currently, Boston is holding down the final Eastern Conference wild card spot, nine points ahead of the Red Wings. All the rest Marchand can get will not only benefit him, but the Black and Gold as well heading into the grind of the second half of the regular season.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. 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.