Boston Bruins rookie forward Brad Marchand
began the season as a young winger working his way into the NHL on the B’s energy line and playing the roll of an agitator.
|Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, left, checks Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) |
However, through the Bruins first 50 games in his first full NHL campaign, Marchand has taken his gritty skating beyond the early expectations laid out for him and has moved up to the line chart to skate alongside B's center Patrice Bergeron
and veteran forward Mark Recchi.
“He’s really done a good job lately and obviously you know playing with Bergy [Bergeron] and Rex [Recchi]," Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said last Wednesday after the B’s 2-1 defeat of the Florida Panthers. "Those guys that seem to compliment him well."
Marchand agreed with his bench boss and credits much of his success to his linemates.
“I think a lot of it has to do with Bergy and Rex," said Marchand. "It’s pretty easy when you’re playing with those guys.”
The Bergeron line has been producing as of late, but that output is expected of Bergeron and Recchi.
Marchand, however, has proven to be a pleasant surprise. But the forward doesn't plan to change his approach.
“I don’t think anyone even thought that I might score ten this year,” Marchand said. “But I have to go to work here...so, whatever happens, that’s how it goes.”
Many people may not have seen Marchand’s success coming, especially in the goal category (13 in 47 games), but B's Head Coach Claude Julien said he saw Brad's potential.
“Am I surprised? Not really, I think we knew he was an energy guy and production wise we knew he could produce,” Julien said.
Throughout the season, Marchand’s success has been a popular topic in Coach Julien’s almost-daily press conferences.
“He’s just been getting better and better, one thing we liked about him from day one was his compete level," said Julien earlier in January. "He comes in and plays hard all the time and we can rely on that part of his game.
"And right now he’s just been getting more and more confidence.”
Marchand, too, has held faith in himself and his unwavering confidence is a contributing factor to his success. But even he originally underestimated his scoring abilities.
“I thought I might be able to score ten," said Marchand. "I knew I could make it.
"Last year I know I could’ve had a bunch, and they just weren’t going in, they weren’t bouncing the right way.
"This year, I knew if I kept getting opportunities they were eventually gonna go in,” he said.
Last season in 20 NHL games with Boston, Marchand recorded just one point, an assist coming on Oct. 21 against the Nashville Predators.
This season, Marchand has netted 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. He leads all rookies in plus/minus with a plus-21 rating, a mark that places him in a tie for 7th place in the NHL.
Marchand also stands ninth in the league in rookie scoring and second in rookie shooting percentage and has 7-5-12 totals in seven of his last eleven games and his confidence was high as the B's headed into the All-Star break.
“I think it’s up there right now," said Marchand. "I’m feeling pretty good,”
So good in fact, that earlier this season he upped the ante in the "How-Many-Goals-Will-He-Get" game.
“Now he told me at some point he was going to score 20 for us this year and I think he had two goals and we were getting close to that halfway mark, right? And I told him he had to pick it up and he answered the call,” Julien said.
“So, definitely, he’s one of those guys that you have to be pleased [with] in the first half, with how he’s responded and what he’s given us.”---Hannah Becker