BOSTON -- Brad Marchand hadn’t played in eight days, but thanks to the postponement of Saturday’s game against the Lightning, the pesky Bruins winger missed only one game, the Bruins’ 2-1 win at Montreal on Feb. 6. Despite not experiencing game action for more than a week, Marchand didn’t show any rust, and in fact he arguably had his best game of the season Sunday night, scoring Boston’s first goal in its 3-1 win at Buffalo.
Marchand, with six lamplighters on the season, seems to be finding that fine balance between agitator and goal scorer. Marchand gave the quiet sign to the Buffalo bench after his goal, putting his finger over his lips as he skated off the ice, but he’s picking his spots and backing up the chirping with goals.
“Brad’s being Brad,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chirping is still there, but he’s done a good job of keeping himself in check. But he’s not just scoring goals, it’s the plays he’s made and how he’s stick-handling with the puck.
“Earlier this season you could see him fanning on a lot of shots, but now all of a sudden his hands seem to be coming back and he’s made some great plays with some good stick-handling. He’s had some great opportunities and his game is really coming along. It’s pretty amazing for a guy who missed a little over a week to come back and play such a strong game.”
Marchand isn’t shy or ashamed about the agitating side of his game one bit, but he’s learned -- the hard way sometimes -- that the time has to be right so as not to put his team or himself in a bad position.
“Obviously I’ve heard a lot about that the last couple of years, but I’m getting a better idea of where the line is and when to do those things and when not to,” Marchand said. “But there’s still times where I can benefit from being quiet and I need to still improve that. You don’t want to do something stupid or say something stupid that is going to make the other team take runs at you and your teammates or make yourself end up in the box and your team shorthanded.”
Marchand credits his coach with helping him walk the line and has learned to listen to Julien when he advises him to hold off on the chirping and just play hockey.
“He’s been really good,” Marchand said of Julien. “When there’s points where I need to be talked to, he talks to me and lets me know. He’ll say ‘Brad, stop and keep quiet’ and he lets me know immediately and I do my best to listen. Then if he wants to let me play and do my thing, he lets me play. It’s his discretion and he’s been great about it.”