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Marchand walks constant tightrope

Thursday, 06.09.2011 / 10:10 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Marchand walks constant tightrope
Boston's Brad Marchand walks a fine line between being a successful pest and doing things that hurt his team -- but he knows how to make an impact.
 VANCOUVER -- In a span of a few seconds, the yin and the yang of Brad Marchand's life on hockey's edge was on display in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Boston Bruins forward skated feverishly toward the corner, racing after a puck late in the third period of a 4-0 contest the same way he would if the scoreboard read 1-1. He was called for a penalty after trying to elude Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, then flipped Daniel Sedin with a hip check just after the whistle and dropped his gloves to brace for any oncoming Canucks player out to defend the honor of their star player.

By the end of the melee, Marchand had accumulated three penalties and his night was finished.

"I haven't had anything like that before," Marchand said. "It isn't something I'm out there looking to do -- take minor penalties. It was just an unfortunate occurrence. It was a little different. I was just trying to get in on the forecheck."

Marchand ends up in the middle of those types of situations a lot.

Sometimes it is by design -- he likes to play a physical game despite his small stature, and he rarely backs away from an opportunity to engage someone, whether it is physical or verbal jostling.

There are instances where he isn't the provocateur. But once a player earns a reputation as someone who relishes that part of hockey, it can be hard to plead innocence.

Some people call Marchand a pest or an agitator. Others might say he just has a lot of passion and grit. Either way, he's probably going to find multiple ways to have an impact on a game.

"I'm not really out there for looking for a reaction or taking any enjoyment out of it," Marchand said. "I am just trying to get myself emotionally into the game and help myself play better while helping the team out. Obviously you're being effective if they react, but they do well, too. I've reacted to them a few times. It is a tough role to play.

"I remember all the way back to atom, when I would be doing things I shouldn't be doing. It is just how I was. It just gets me involved in the game."

There are instances when Marchand takes it too far, and that is something the 22-year-old rookie is trying to get better at avoiding. Earlier in this postseason he said, "I need to stop doing dumb things," and that's part of the education he's receiving at the NHL level.

One of those things happened as he was skating away from the melee late in Game 4. As he coasted past the Vancouver bench with an official serving as a guide, Marchand wiped his hands in an exaggerated fashion -- not a taunt with which the Canucks players found much pleasure.

"That's something I shouldn't have done," Marchand said. "It was a little childish. They were yelling at me from the bench and that was just how I reacted. I kind of wish I didn't do it."

Added teammate Shawn Thornton: "He plays with a lot of energy, and people feed off that energy. Sometimes he needs to be brought back a little bit, but he plays with a definite edge and guys feed off that a bit."

Marchand's value to the Bruins goes far beyond the extracurricular activity, and why maybe the traditional label of "pest" doesn't completely fit him. He scored 21 goals this season and has added 8 more in the playoffs.

He skates on Boston's second line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. While Marchand has only 2 power-play goals all season, he scored 5 shorthanded goals in the regular season and added the highlight goal of this Cup Final in Game 3 with his team down a man.

Marchand has already tied the rookie record for most goals by a Boston player in one playoff year; one more goal would move him into the top 20 in franchise history for a single postseason.
 
"He's not a pest to his teammates, that's for sure," goaltender Tim Thomas said. "I think he's a great player who brings energy and effort every night, basically -- and that helps the team. The last two games, Game 3 and Game 4, he had huge goals for us, beautiful goals for us that were skill goals. On top of that energy and effort that he brings every night, he has skill."

Before this season Marchand made a bold proclamation to Boston coach Claude Julien -- if he made the team, he'd score 20 goals. At one point Marchand was off the pace and Julien reminded him of his promise.

Marchand ended the season with 16 goals in his final 39 games to reach the benchmark.

"I really didn't know. I think I just shot my mouth off," Marchand said. "I was just trying to say anything I could to get on the team. I was fortunate enough to be able to hit the mark. I thank God, because that was something he would have held over my head for a long time. It was nice to get that, but it was also just nice to help the team get into the playoffs."
Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic