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Marchand, Bergeron a Step Ahead

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - There were times last season when Marchand thought to himself, "Oh no…"

The Bruin wasn't feeling good. He'd lose his stamina. He'd lose his legs late in shifts. Though he was by no means out of shape, he wasn't where he wanted to be.

He mixed in more workouts and bike rides, but during the season amidst game action is not a time for catching up. The playoffs didn't feel much better.

By the looks of the 2014-15 Brad Marchand, just a week into training camp, he's not going to be faced with those moments this season.

Both he and his centerman Patrice Bergeron have had midseason jump to their game, whether it's in practice, a scrimmage, or a preseason game like the one that Boston won 2-0 over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

"Yeah, I think Bergy is Bergy. I think the big difference there is that Marchy is in better shape," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the game. "When you say in better shape, he wasn’t lazy last year. I think if you’ve talked to him - and we had that conversation at the end of last year - I don’t think he trained properly for what needed to be done there."

"He changed his training and tactics a little bit, and I think he seemed to get tired quickly. He seems in better shape cardiovascular-wise this year than he did last year, and it makes a big difference."

Marchand only had about five weeks of training following the 2013 Cup Final, before heading into the 2013-14 season, in which he admittedly struggled out of the gate and faced inconsistency in his game.

As he has already discussed with reporters on several occasions, he was disappointed with his season despite putting up 25 goals and a career-best 28 assists.

He's discussed that with his bench boss and General Manager Peter Chiarelli as well.

"We talked about his conditioning, and he was going to try a couple different frequencies," said Chiarelli. "Sometimes players just have a little bit of off years, and we chalk it up as an off year."

To talk about making a change is one thing; to put it into action is another.

"He said he was going to work hard at the conditioning this summer. So I think we're seeing a good start to that," Chiarelli said following the Black & Gold Scrimmage on September 21, in which Marchand and Bergeron both looked in midseason form.

"Him and Bergy, they've both had an extra step," he said. "Marchy's been real good and for a guy that scored 20-plus goals last year and we're telling him that it's a bad year, so if he keeps that up, he's going to have a good year."

Marchand attributes being a step ahead in training camp to the offseason changes in his training regiment.

The biggest switch?

Sprints, sprints, and more sprints.

By building up lactic acid during running and sprint workouts, and then pushing himself even harder, he built up his endurance for those times late in shifts, and late in games.

It's now paying off for the crafty winger, and as a result, his centerman.

"He's looking great," Bergeron said a few days into training camp. "He's definitely making some great plays and was very quick on his feet and creating a lot of chances by doing that. And we have good chemistry together, so we just have to keep working on it. It's great to see him like that already."

Marchand is relieved he's feeling this good.

This summer, he went on the ice after his sprint and gym workouts, and the legs didn't quite feel so great.

But in camp, and in preseason action, he feels stronger, quicker and more confident.

"I can move out of areas a little faster, and I feel like I can control the puck better, I'm not getting knocked off as easily as I was last year," said Marchand. "I think those are a couple of big issues that I had, so I feel like I can already notice a difference."

"That's the attitude that you want in a teammate and in a professional," Bergeron said, of his linemate's motivation. "That's definitely great to see, and he wants to get better and he wants to be an elite player in this League, by working hard and doing the little things, and he's doing that."

"Last year, he had 25 goals but he wants more, and that's a good sign."

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