BOSTON -- While the majority of the Bruins didn’t seem to have the intensity that a Bruins-Canadiens game usually generates, Brad Marchand did his best to stir things up -- getting in a gloves-off fight with Habs defenseman P.K. Subban.
Last season, Subban nailed Marchand with a hard open-ice hit that forced the pesky Bruins winger to miss three games with an undisclosed injury. The two would engage in verbal jousting on and off the ice for the remainder of the season and take whatever chance they could to lay a hit on each other. On Thursday, the feud continued. After trying to fight twice -- when, according to Marchand, Subban declined on the first attempt and Marchand on the second -- they finally dropped the gloves in the second period in what could best be described as a draw. It was one of the few highlights of the night for the Bruins.
“Yeah, well, I think it all started off the draw,” Marchand said. “He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and then I grabbed him and he grabbed me. And I thought he wanted to go then so I dropped my gloves. But when we were in the box he asked me to go and I said no. And then back in the second time he asked me again, and I couldn’t say no. So it was nice to get it out of the way."
During the fight, Subban was throwing plenty of haymakers. When one missed, he fell down and left himself open for some punishment -- but Marchand let up.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t want to hit him while he was down,” Marchand explained. "Might as well keep it going so we didn’t have to go a fourth time there. So I let him get back up and we went from there."
Was that because of their off-ice friendship? Marchand and Subban were teammates for Canada in the World Junior championships.
But following Thursday night’s game, they both seemed to have different impressions of where that friendship stands right now.
“If I see him somewhere then I’ll definitely talk to him, but we don’t really keep in contact or anything,” said Marchand. “It’s a job right now and guys are friends all the time off the ice, but on the ice, they're on the other team and you're going to have to take runs at them and do what you have to do to win. That’s all it is."
It should be noted that as the media scrum around him broke up, Marchand told Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald that if Subban asked, he would “share a Pepsi” with his bitter rival.
But Subban clearly seemed to think more of their off-ice relationship.
“Well, I know ‘Marshy’ [Marchand] pretty well and it’s just a matter of us both being frustrated out there and that’s how you settle your differences,” Subban said. “I mean, we were kind of laughing about it after, we gave each other a pat on the pads, I don’t think there’s any true animosity between us two. But like I said, we have quite the past, winning a gold medal together. But it’s a game; that’s what the fans want; that’s what both teams want and it’s energy out there, it’s fun."
Wherever that friendship and rivalry may stand, they both seem to know their roles for their respective teams.
“We both like to aggravate the opponent,” Marchand said. “And he just kind of gave me a shot, and that stuff happens. We’re both out there, we’re both emotional guys. And in a game like this we want to get our teams going and that’s the way to do it."