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Marchand’s Career Year a Product of Preparation

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins — “Ever going another game without a goal?” Brad Marchand was asked.

He had just scored his 12th goal in 12 games in Minnesota.

“I hope not,” he smiled.

About 24 hours later, Marchand ripped in his 13th goal in 13 games the next afternoon in Detroit — just eight seconds into the game. The smiling continued, accompanied by a few head shakes of disbelief as he skated to the bench for a round of fist bumps from his teammates.

Those watching were left shaking their heads as well.

The goal came right after a faceoff win and was in the net quicker than Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek could even react. It marked the fastest goal ever scored in the Bruins’ 92-year history.

Immediately following the game, Marchand had not yet been slipped that piece of knowledge.

“I didn’t know that,” he said, before whipping up a quick remark. “Write it down in the record books.”

Marchand has re-written his own record book this season.

Entering the Bruins’ matchup with Columbus on Feb. 15, he’s on a career-best seven-game goal streak (8 goals in 7 games) that started with a two-goal night against Toronto on Feb. 2 and continued through the Bruins’ game in Detroit on Feb. 14.

His 28 goals match his career-best total from the 2011-12 season.

With 26 games remaining in the Bruins’ season, Marchand’s more than on-pace for his first 30-goal season in the NHL.

For his recent efforts, Marchand was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week (for the week ending Feb. 14), having recorded four goals and three assists for seven points in four games.

“To be honest, I’m trying not to think about it a whole lot,” said Marchand. “It’s nice, but I’m just trying to prepare the same way and focus more on working hard and playing the right way, and when you do that, then good things happen.”

From the outside, Marchand’s streak is flashy. The winger himself can be seen as flashy.

For those around Marchand day in and day out, his preparation is anything but.

“What people don’t see about Brad Marchand is how well he prepares for every game,” Julien said. “And that’s since the first day he walked in our dressing room.”

“You can see him clowning around, having fun with the guys, but when he comes to a game, he prepares — and he might be playing soccer there,” said Julien, gesturing towards Marchand and his teammates playing a boisterous game of two-touch soccer nearby.

“But the rest of the time, he’s in his own zone. And he’s stretching and he’s doing his stuff, has his earpieces on and just listens to whatever he listens to, but he’s totally focused. He does a great job of preparing. He’s a great example for young guys to look at when they look at preparation.”

Marchand has to be focused before games.

Not only does he need to turn on the jets to use his speed during five-on-five play, but he’s tasked with top minutes on the penalty kill and has picked up power-play time this season.

“It’s more about the conditioning, the way you prepare yourself,” said Marchand. “I’ve always been a guy that’s worked hard off the ice and prepared the right way and I feel like I can play those minutes, can play power play and PK and 5-on-5 and I’ve worked hard to make sure my stamina’s up so I can play those minutes.”

“I feel like I’ve been able to adapt and I like the pride of being out there in different situations.”

The Bruins benefit from that pride.

Out of his 28 goals in 2015-16, four of them have come shorthanded and five on the power play. More importantly, 16 of them have given the Bruins a lead in a game, including nine first goals of the game. Another four of his goals have tied the score.

On top of that, the Bruins have a 24-5-4 record when he records a point, and an 18-4-3 mark in games in which he has scored a goal.

He’s a spark plug — on, and off, the ice.

“Obviously he’s been leading on the ice by his actions, but he’s been really good with the young players and even being assertive in the room when he has to be,” said Julien.

“He’s come in this year and said, ‘I want to be a leader,” said the bench boss, who has coached Marchand since his first time with the big club in 2009. “We lost a lot of guys, [have] lots of young players, and he’s taken it upon himself to want to be a good player, and he’s done just that.”

Marchand’s skill and speed has put him on streaks before. He has hit 20 goals in five of his six seasons as a full-time NHL player (with the only exception the lockout shortened season in 2012-13). The 27-year-old has amassed 144 total goals through 428 games.

When Marchand entered the league, he began with fourth line minutes and penalty killing duty. That same tenacity and puck hunger has combined with his elite shot to make him one of the Bruins’ best offensive threats through the years. The loss of other offensive players has amplified that.

Yes, there will be a point when the goal streak will come to an end. It’s inevitable.

His current span of 13 goals in 13 games came after an 11-game scoreless stretch sandwiched around his three-game suspension in early January.

But with Marchand’s upped confidence —and his drive to be a leader — the spark he has been providing won’t be dying out anytime soon.

“I think he’s playing some of his best hockey we’ve seen him play in this organization,” said Julien. “His confidence is as high as it has ever been, and he continues to help us win hockey games.”

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