Brad Marchand. Love him or hate him, his talent is indisputable, and his story from fifth-round draft pick, fourth-line bruiser to a 100-point scorer in a season is something we won’t readily see replicated anytime soon. For almost a decade, he has been the heart of the Boston Bruins.
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When his offseason surgery was announced and he wasn’t predicted to return until near December, there was much concern amongst the Bruins fan base. He was the top points scorer last season with 80 points in 70 games and the team was drastically better when he was on the roster versus when he wasn’t.
Despite the Bruins playing way better than anyone predicted to start the season without him and Charlie McAvoy, getting Marchand back earlier than expected has definitely been a pleasant surprise and a boost to the team’s offensive mite, particularly on the powerplay.
The Anticipated Return of Marchand
Marchand made his 2022-23 season debut on Oct. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings, and what a debut it was. He had 17:31 of ice time and scored two goals and one assist. It put to rest any lingering concerns people may have had about him receiving surgery on both his hips this summer. His return came a month earlier than expected, and while the team is easing him in by not having him play back-to-backs yet, he looks just like new on the ice.
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Since his debut, Marchand has continued to contribute offensively as one would expect. He had a goal in his second game of the season against the always-tough Pittsburgh Penguins and another goal in last night’s game (Nov. 5) against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Through four games so far this season, he has four goals and five points and is a plus-2.
Marchand is well on his way to climbing up the Bruins scoring depth chart. He’s already just outside the top 10 on the team, and at the rate he’s going, it shouldn’t be long until he’s back near the top.
Help For Struggling Powerplay
If there is a weak spot on this roster at the moment, it has to be the powerplay. Offensive lines have been clicking, the blue line has been solid, Linus Ullmark is a beast in net, and the penalty kill continues to be one of the top units in the league. But through the first 12 games of the season, the powerplay has been very hot and cold. Some nights, they can manage a decent shift or two, and other nights, it just looks listless.
Marchand, in only four games, has the most powerplay goals on the roster with four. Next on the list is David Pastrnak with two. As a whole, the Bruins only have 10 powerplay goals on the season. The fact that in only four games, Marchand already has almost half of the team’s production shows just how essential he is to it.
With Marchand back in the lineup, hopefully he can help get some of the other guys going on the powerplay as well. Jake DeBrusk has had a great start to his season, but is still looking for his first goal on the powerplay. Playing the two together on a unit may prove to be helpful.
With a new head coach in Jim Montgomery, there are obviously going to be some kinks to work out, especially on special teams. Between Marchand being back and the team continuing to get more comfortable with the new system, hopefully the Bruins can move up from being 15th overall in the league on the powerplay.
Start of the 2022-23 Season
If it weren’t for the terrible and morally questionable decisions being made by the Bruins’ front office at the moment, one could not imagine a better start for the team. They’re first in the league, getting consistent contributions from players not named Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, or Marchand, got their top scorer back from injury a month early, and McAvoy looks on track to return earlier than expected as well.
The Bruins still have 70 games left to go in the 2022-23 season and a lot can happen between now and the start of the postseason in April. Still, it’s hard not to get excited about the on-ice play of this team. Even after a loss last night to the Maple Leafs, which is bound to happen as no one can go through a full 82-game season with only one loss. With Marchand’s early return and McAvoy coming back by the end of the month, this team may be way more of a contender than anyone predicted.
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The Bruins play next at home on Nov. 7 against the St. Louis Blues, who are currently on a six-game losing streak, last in the Central Division, and desperate for a win. It’s sure to be an interesting game. Make sure to follow along with The Hockey Writers throughout the 2022-23 season for all news surrounding the Bruins.