On Monday, the Boston Bruins regained their composure after an embarrassing blowout defeat in Vancouver by taking down the Calgary Flames in overtime, 2-1. Exactly how did they do it? With help from Brad Marchand, one of the grittiest players and goal scorers in the NHL.
The Bruins and the Flames went into overtime tied at one, and, just a mere 3:36 into the extra period, Marchand netted the game-winner — his 22nd goal of the season. The special moment came just two days after the Bruins were creamed by the Canucks, 6-1, in what appeared to be a heavy momentum killer for one of the league’s hottest teams this season.
Marchand’s clutch goal in overtime was a much-needed pick-me-up for the Bruins to help them get back on track and continue their push toward the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After defeating the Flames, Boston improved to 36-13-8 and moved to within a point of the Tampa Bay Lightning in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. It was a win that may prove pivotal at the end of the regular season if the Bruins can snag the top spot away from the Lightning and secure home ice advantage in the playoffs.
To Be Loved and Hated
It was fitting that the game-winner was delivered by Marchand, who can be one of the most underappreciated players in the league, but is definitely not underappreciated by the Bruins and their fans. Marchand has somewhat of a special relationship with hockey fans. Anybody who loves the Bruins loves Marchand because they can appreciate his skillset and his tenacity on the ice. Anybody who roots for another team typically cannot stand Marchand because he can be viewed as an annoying little pest.
Achieving this status makes Marchand a perfect fit in the thick of the Boston sports scene. A number of Boston athletes have found themselves in similar positions, such as Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, or Dustin Pedroia, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox to name a few of the more recent ones. These players are loved by their teammates and their fans, but are often despised by opposing players and fans.
Marchand fits right in there – he’s a player that you love to have on your team because he plays hard and does whatever he has to do to help the team win. If he’s not on your team, he just annoys the heck out of you with his grittiness, but deep down, you know you would love him if he was on your team.
A Key to Success
Marchand has been a member of the Bruins since the 2009-10 season and was a member of the B’s team that claimed the Stanley Cup in 2011 after a memorable seven-game series with the Canucks. During that 2011 postseason, it was Nathan Horton who would come through in the clutch with a go-ahead goal late in the game, or a game-winner in overtime. But it’s been almost five years since Horton made his departure from Boston, and Marchand now plays somewhat of a similar role.
If the game is tied and it’s almost the end of regulation, or it’s overtime and you’re looking for that game-winning goal, Marchand is a player that you want to have on the ice as much as possible. He’s going to push and fight for the puck relentlessly in order to either get a shot at the net himself, or to set up one of this teammates for a potential game-winning goal. A lot of times, he’ll catch the opposing goalie by surprise and slip the puck into the net himself.
In the almost 10 seasons that Marchand has been a member of the Bruins, he’s proven that they always have a better chance of success when he’s on the ice. When the game is on the line, there’s always a very solid chance that Marchand will deliver in the clutch. He proved it again on Monday with his overtime game-winner in Calgary, and he’ll absolutely be playing a big role in the upcoming months as the Bruins keep their eyes locked on the Stanley Cup.
Cody Rivera is a sports writer covering the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers, as well as a contributor to SB Nation’s PatsPulpit.com. In addition to the Bruins, Cody is also a devoted fan of the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. Send Cody an email at firstname.lastname@example.org