BOSTON -- Two years ago, Brad Marchand was one of the best players in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
He did a little bit of everything for the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series victory against the Vancouver Canucks. Marchand led the Bruins with five goals in the series, but he also racked up 22 penalty minutes and was a pest against the Canucks' top players, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Flash forward to the present, and there has been one name conspicuously missing from the score sheet for the Bruins during the 2013 Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Marchand has no goals, no assists and, outside of a fighting major near the end of Game 3, has not had much of an impact from a physical or agitation perspective.
"I mean, pucks aren't finding their way into the net and I'm not making many plays," Marchand said. "So I just have to be better."
Marchand was on the team's second line during the 2011 Cup run, and he's been a staple there ever since. Patrice Bergeron has consistently been his center, and the third member has changed from Mark Recchi to Tyler Seguin and now during this postseason to Jaromir Jagr.
Bergeron has been a standout with four goals in the Final, nine total and is a leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy should the Bruins win the next two games, beginning with Game 6 Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). Jagr has played well in spurts and has 10 points in 21 games -- but no goals.
This postseason was shaping up to be another productive one for Marchand. After scoring twice and collecting four points in the four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final, Marchand had four goals and 12 points in 16 playoff contests.
He's had no points in this series and only nine shots on goal -- five in the past four games. Marchand's best chance in Game 5 came on a rebound late, but he flipped the puck from a tough angle over goaltender Corey Crawford and through the crease without putting it on net.
"Well, if he's going to be a streaky player, I would hope that [a good] streak starts tomorrow," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Sunday. "I don't think he's played terrible, but certainly he knows he can play better. But a lot of our guys do, too. We all need to be better in order to get ourselves back into this series here. We feel confident that we can. You go through bumps along the way, and you fight through it. Just have to look at the other team. They have guys that haven't produced and they started producing. If we can do the same thing, then we're going to get ourselves back into it."
The Bruins' series with the Canucks in 2011 was chock full of shenanigans. There was an alleged finger bite, then subsequent invitations to bite by players shoving their fingers in the mouth of foes.
There was the time Marchand rabbit-punched Daniel Sedin three times and later said "because I could," as an explanation. He also hit three Canucks on one play in the corner near the end of Game 6, and ended up with 12 minutes in penalties as a result.
That sort of activity -- the after-the-whistle stuff -- has not been prevalent in this series. The Blackhawks have, for the most part, just skated away after the typical amount of post-whistle pushing and trash talking.
Marchand has done well to not take a bad penalty trying to stir some of that up, but it has also limited his impact in general on the series.
"Well, we always talk about playing within the whistles and playing hard," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "That's basically what we're all about and let's make sure we're smart. There's some guys that can be disruptive and can get you off your game. But let's make sure discipline and being focused and doing what we can do is what we talked about."
The Bruins aren't sure if Marchand's long-time center, Bergeron, is going to be able to play in Game 6 because of what Julien described as a "body injury." Another top-six forward, Nathan Horton, has also reportedly been playing through an injury.
Still, the Bruins need to find more offense after only scoring once in Game 5, and top-six guys like Marchand and Jagr are certainly candidates to break out. If he needs history to lean on, Marchand scored the opening goal in Game 6 of the 2011 Final and the Bruins never looked back -- smoking the Canucks on that night in Boston and in Game 7 on the road to capture the Cup.
"Yeah, I mean we could all take some experience from that and realize that, to win this game, we've got to make sure we leave everything on the ice," Marchand said. "We play our best [in these situations] and that's what we did last time, so hopefully we can do the same tomorrow."
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