In and around Boston he’s lovingly referred to as “the little ball of hate”. He’s an agitator with that rare mix of skill and grit who is continually a bee in the bonnet of opposing teams. He scores goals, gets assists and works incredibly hard, all while chirping the other team and letting them know all about how good he is and how bad they are.
He’s even been called “the rat” before, which outside of hockey would sound like an insult but when its done in comparison to Ken Linesman, it’s done with love.
Outside of Boston he’s just a big-nosed annoyance who slew-foots and runs his mouth. But Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who has now scored a goal in 4 of his last 5 games, is showing he’s more than that.
Marchand is tied for the team lead with 9 goals for the Bruins and is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. I should note those 9 goals are only 3 off of league leaders, Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres) and James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins), who both have 12. Something I’m sure isn’t lost on Marchand who is as a fiery competitor as there is.
Now, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone. I mean Marchand did score 11 goals during the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup championship, so we all knew he had it in him. It was just a question of whether or not he could toe the line.
He seems more focused and motivated than ever this season. He’s winning battles along the boards, has had great legs all season and is just being the menace on the ice the B’s need him to be. He’s also shown a level of maturity he’d been lacking, which he was young and trying to find his way in the NHL. However, I think its safe to say Marchand has found his happy medium. It’s a fine line players like him walk and after some dumb decisions, both on and off the ice, he appears to have grown and matured.
Don’t let him fool you though, yes he’s matured and become more of an offensive threat, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten who he is and what got him where he is now. Marchand still mixes it up from time to time as witnessed last night when he tried to fight Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher at the end of the second period and ended up just giving the youngster a nice face-washing. I guess you can take the dog out of the fight but not the fight out of the dog.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a question that I hope you’ll answer honestly. If someone had asked you at the beginning of the season, which Bruin would be on pace for 30+ goals in a 48-game season, would you have said Brad Marchand?