Throughout the season this year, Bruins winger Brad Marchand has had his ups and he has had his downs. Marchand started the season on a cold streak, but he has progressively improved his game during the season.
To start the season Marchand had one goal in his first 14 games. That lone goal in his first 14 games came in the second game of the year against the Detroit Red Wings on October 5. His next goal after that did not come until November 7, more than a month later.
He then had two more games in the month of November. Marchand finished the first 27 games of the season with only four goals. That is not what you should expect from a top line forward in the NHL.
One of the reasons Marchand was struggling was because him and Patrice Bergeron were getting used to playing with new line-mate Loui Eriksson. Eriksson was acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade during the offseason, from the Dallas Stars. The Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson trio struggled to start off the year. After Eriksson returned from his first concussion, that line started to click, but all the chemistry was lost when Eriksson went down with his another concussion of the year.
Since Eriksson sustained the concussion, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to put Reilly Smith on the line with Marchand and Bergeron. Once Smith was added to that line, Brad Marchand started playing like his usual self. Marchand has scored 12 goals since the addition of Smith to that line and Smith has scored nine goals in that same time period, but only one goal in his last ten games. Bergeron has 16 points since the move to put Smith on the line was made.
Marchand has 11 goals and three assists in his last 15 games, including six goals in his last four games. Bergeron has three goals and ten assists in his last 12 games.
Many media members and fans were wanting Marchand traded or having him demoted a line after his rough start to the season. Marchand has proved the critics wrong and he continues to deliver when the Bruins need a goal. Marchand’s recent tear has shown that it is not worth trading him and that the Bruins should keep him with the team for the foreseeable future.
In the past two games for the Bruins they have played two of the top teams in the Western Conference. In the game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Marchand scored the only two goals for the Bruins in a 3-2 shootout loss. Today, against the Los Angeles Kings, Marchand scored two goals again, including a shorthanded goal where he dangled through four Kings’ players, including Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, to put the puck past Jonathan Quick. That was Marchand’s league leading fourth shorthanded goal.
If Marchand can keep up his play for the rest of the season, the Bruins might be looking at a top seed in the Eastern Conference, or at the very least, the top seed in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins will need Marchand and the rest of the top line forwards to keep on contributing and scoring goals.