BostonBruins.com --Brad Marchand received a belated gift on Monday when he was named the NHL's 1st Star of the Week.
But Marchand didn't look at the award as an individual honor as much as he saw the superlative as indicative of his team and line's play over the last few weeks.
"We have confidence out there right now," said Marchand of his trio with right wing Tyler Seguin and center Patrice Bergeron. "When were on the ice we seem to be connecting a little bit better.
"Things went into a lull for a little bit, and now it seems like we got our chemistry back and connect a little more, it’s nice to be able to create opportunities and capitalize on a few."
Much like the pass that Seguin feathered to Marchand so that the left wing could complete his first NHL hat trick last Friday, Tyler sent the prais right back at Marchand.
"I thought he had a great year last year but he didn’t dwell on it too much," said Seguin. "He’s come back stronger and I thought his first star was well deserved."
The praise didn't stop there. Marchand's former linemate Shawn Thornton said that Brad always had offensive skills -- and it didn't just stop with Marchand's penchant to get under his opponents' skin.
A Tale of Two Lines
Asked about his former linemate's recent success, a laughing Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joked that Brad Marchand's recent hot streak (the left wing has scored in five of the last six games at a 5-4-9 clip) was indicative of "who he's playing with."
"Playing with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Seggy [Tyler Seguin] is probably a little different than playing with me and Soup [Campbell]," added Thornton with another chuckle.
But Brad himself didn't discout the importance of his getting to play plenty of last season with Boston's energy line -- nicknamed the "Merlot" because of their wine-colored practice jerseys.
In fact, Marchand called his time with Campbell and Thornton the secret to his success.
"Playing with Soupy and Thorty gave me an opportunity to be in the league and I learned a ton from playing with them," said Marchand.
"If I didn’t have the opportunity to start with those guys and learn from them –- they taught me a lot along the way," added Marchand. "If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.”
"I think he’s always had the potential to do it, but I think pucks are going in for him right now," said Thornton. "He plays hard, he does all the things right – he broke out with a five pint night obviously that’s what we’re talking about, but over the past couple of years he’s done things the right way."
Even from the opposing bench in Montreal, Benoit Pouliot (who called Brad "a pain in the "rear" when he was with the Habs) said he saw Marchand's potential to be a game changer.
"He’s a competitive player when you’re on the other team, he’s doing the job well...gets under your skin and takes you out of your game," said Pouliot. "And 'Marshy' is one of the best in the league for that.
"[But] I see him in practice – just the way he handles himself he’s just that good with the puck," added Pouliot of Marchand's offensive skills. "He can burn D's like no other.
"Him getting the first star and the way he’s playing for us this year -- he’s one of the best players on the team. We’re winning games and he’s a big part of why."
Asked about the hard work he's put into his career, Marchand explained that making and staying in the NHL takes a superior effort.
"I think once you get to this level, you realize how much it takes to stay here and stay in this league," said Marchand. "There’s new guys coming in all the time that are trying to fight for spots and take yours and with a team like ours, the way everyone battles, every time on the ice everyone just wants to make everybody better and push each other to the limit.
"Being on a team like this definitely helps improve your game."
Team was a word that Marchand used no less than four times during his short talk with the press on Tuesday morning.
"We have a very deep team and I think that’s why we won last year, and that’s why we’re having a nice little run right now," said Marchand. "On any given night, any line steps up and will produce and will win a game for a team.
"It’s nice how not one line has to be counted on every night to score a goal and every one chips in."