Bruins Need Hall to Step up in Marchand’s Absence

On Monday night, the NHL announced that Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand has been suspended three games for slew-footing Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Vancouver Canucks. The play in question happened in the first period of the Bruins 3-2 win on Sunday night at the TD Garden.

Marchand will miss games against the Detroit Red Wings (Nov. 30), Nashville Predators (Dec. 2), and Tampa Bay Lightning (Dec. 4). Boston has gone 11-7-0 in their first 18 games, while struggling offensively. Marchand leads the in goals with eight, assists with 15, and points with 24. He has three goals on the power play and eight assists. He plays in all situations for the Black and Gold and is without question the team’s MVP early in the 2021-22 season.

Related: 3 Bruins Players Off to Hot Starts

With Marchand out of the lineup for the next three games, the Bruins are going to need all hands on deck at left wing to try and fill the missing gap in the lineup.

Bruins Need Hall to Step Up

Last season at the trade deadline, general manager Don Sweeney acquired Taylor Hall in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. Following the trade, Hall had eight goals and six assists in 16 regular-season games for the Bruins. He ignited the second line and help provide scoring depth behind the top line.

Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the offseason, Sweeney signed Hall to a four-year, $24 million contract to return and things have not gone the way that Hall and the Bruins have liked. In 18 games, he has five goals and five assists, but he has found himself in the doghouse with coach Bruce Cassidy, who sat him the final 10 minutes of a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 9. Since that game, Hall has been better with his skating game and overall performance.

There are a couple of ways that Cassidy could go in replacing Marchand on the first line, but Hall would most likely benefit from playing with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Hall thrived next to David Krejci last season and playing beside another playmaker in Bergeron, could help get the former No. 1 overall pick going.

All Hands on Deck Without Marchand

Jake DeBrusk found himself in the press box in Sunday’s win over the Canucks as a healthy scratch. This is nothing new to the 2015 first-round pick who was a healthy scratch multiple times last season, both in the regular season and playoffs. After a disappointing 2020-21 season that saw him score five goals with nine assists, he had a promising start to this season, but his play has slipped recently. It apears that the decision to scratch DeBrusk has damaged the relationship with the team and it was reported Monday afternoon that DeBrusk and his agent have requested a trade from Boston.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

DeBrusk, who has three goals and three assists this season, will reportedly remain with the team, but it is unclear how this situation will play out during Marchand’s suspension. The Bruins signed Nick Foligno over the summer and after battling an injury early in the season, the veteran forward has seen time in the middle-six for Cassidy. He has yet to find the back of the net, but he has done the little things on the forecheck, being a net-front presence and picking up five assists. His time sliding up and down the lineup will continue.

Replacing Marchand is not going to be easy, if done at all. The Bruins brought back Hall this offseason for depth and despite things not going the way he would have hoped early in the season, he now has an opportunity to make a major impact. More pressure will fall on Bergeron and Pastrnak, but also Craig Smith who has been a disappointment this season too. Regardless of how the lines shake out over the next three games, the Black and Gold need to find a way to stay above water without their leading scorer and team MVP through the first 18 games. 

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