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For Marchand, Increased Conditioning Key Part of Summer Routine

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - Like his teammates, Brad Marchand didn't want to spend the summer dwelling on what happened last year.

"I wanted to focus more on how we can improve and get better, and I think that’s the goal every summer," Marchand said Tuesday following an informal practice at Ristuccia Arena.

"I think I had good summer training - lots of rest, we had a lot of time off and I’m really excited to get the season going."

Marchand may not dwell on last season, but the way it played out for him and the Bruins is what sparked a shift in his offseason training.

"I felt like my conditioning had to be up a bit. I thought that was where I kind of struggled last year," said the winger. "So I tried to focus a little more on that and more on mental aspects of the game, and hopefully that’ll help me improve."

While Marchand posted the second highest goal (25) and point (53) totals of his NHL career in 2013-14, along with a career-best 28 assists through his first full 82-game season, the forward faced inconsistency.

He struggled early, scoring just three goals in his first 25 games. He notched his first goal of the season in the second game, and then didn't find the back of the the net again until 13 games later, when he famously threw "the monkey off his back."

The struggles didn't end there, though. By the time Marchand had suited up in 34 games, he had just five goals. He was frustrated. He was fighting the puck. He felt he was letting his linemates - Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith - down, and his team down.

Marchand is at his best when he's skating and moving his feet. He makes plays and creates more opportunities. He's dynamic and unpredictable.

To be at his best for the 2014-15 season, the three months of workouts Marchand had this summer will be an automatic advantage compared to the roughly five weeks of training he did last summer following the Cup Final.

"When you don’t have the same conditioning, then it’s tough to keep up with the play, and you might have a burst of speed early on in the shift but it dies off quick, so I tried to focus more on endurance and hopefully that’ll help," said Marchand.

"I can’t really say exactly why I had a bad start, because there were a lot of things, but [conditioning is] one thing I felt I could improve on."

During the first half of last season, Marchand had to focus on doing more bike rides and workouts. He felt his game come around during Christmas time as a result.

The middle of the season got much better for the Bruin, but that trend didn't continue in the playoffs, when he went scoreless through 12 games and recorded just five assists.

Marchand doesn't want to face a slow start or a lackluster finish again. He changed up his offseason training routine to combat that by adding more anaerobic and endurance exercises.

"[Conditioning] was something I thought I had to improve on, and I did talk to them about it, but I felt that’s where things kind of went wrong last year," said Marchand. "You always want to try to find a way to improve each season. I feel that could definitely be part of it."

Marchand is just 26 years old, and entering his fifth season in a full-time NHL role in 2014-15. He has three years left on his current four-year deal.

His learning curve hasn't just included finding ways to skate faster and score more goals. There's been progress for Marchand in other aspects of the game as well, like trying to improve his reputation, especially with the referees.

"I did that to myself and I know that. The biggest thing is just to not really allow that to affect me," said Marchand.

"I can’t get upset about it - it’s just going to hurt my game. If I can just brush it off and keep playing and try to stay away from that stuff, then maybe they’ll see that I want to change and respect them and I can change things around."

"I think you just have to try to adapt and improve and in doing that, and focus maybe more on being a better player than that other stuff. You know, that’s one thing I really want to focus on doing this year, is being a better player and focusing on the things that help the team win."

On the team's breakup day back in May, General Manager Peter Chiarelli had a positive exit meeting with Marchand in that regard.

"Every year, I seem to have this comment about him finding a balance between irritance/agitator and a real good player," Chiarelli said that day. "I think sometimes his antics get in the way. This has been a discussion I’ve had, we’ve had, Claude [Julien] has had over the course of three, four, five years and it’s a challenge for Brad to play that aggressive way and not to cross the line."

"So we both had productive meetings with Brad…he scored 25 goals and he thought he had a bad year - that’s where he puts his expectations and we talked about that other stuff and we had productive conversation."

With high expectations, often comes much criticism. Marchand is no stranger to trade rumors, and was dialed in to the ones he saw in mid-June around the Stanley Cup Final that Chiarelli actively shot down.

"You know, I never thought for a second I was going to get traded, no matter what rumors were going around," said Marchand. "I think, you know, bad start - I still had 25 goals, so I mean, it's not that bad of a year. I want to be here, I don’t want to go anywhere."

"I want to show by my play and my actions that I want to play on this team for a long time."

Chiarelli doesn't usually make it a practice to respond to reports on social media, but relayed in a text message to Bruins' beat reporters that he "had no discussions for Marchand and I have no plans to trade him."

It wasn't the first time the GM had responded to trade rumors. Back in December, when Marchand was beginning to turn his play around, Chiarelli voiced his confidence in the forward, clarifying: "Let me be clear on Marchy…I'm not trading Marchy. He’s a good player, I like the way he plays, he’ll figure it out."

Marchand is committed to continuing to figure it out, and he has the backing from his GM and coach.

"You can only focus on the things that you can control - at the end of the day, if they have to trade me, I can’t control that, but hopefully with my play and my ability to help the team, they'll want to keep me here," he said.

With 25 goals, 53 points and a career-best plus-36 rating last season, Marchand helped the team despite his inconsistency.

Now, following a summer of strong conditioning, he's hoping he has put himself in a position to help the team even more.

"Every year, there’s ups and downs, and I know that, I’ve been through it for a few years now," said Marchand. "You go through hot and cold streaks and the biggest thing is just trying to stay even-keeled."

"Hopefully I can have a little better pace at the start of the year, but you just want to try and maintain that focus all year."

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