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X-Factor: Bruins' Marchand at best playing on edge

by Matt Kalman

Few forwards in the NHL can go an entire five-game series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs without any points and still have a positive impact on his team's victory.

That's what Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand did in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings, and why he will likely be a factor in the second round against the Montreal Canadiens.

Marchand is a valuable piece of Boston's best defensive line with center Patrice Bergeron and wing Reilly Smith. Marchand is also a key penalty killer along with Bergeron, but there are some extracurricular activities he does well too that make him a menace to opponents.

From the get-go against the Red Wings, Marchand lived up to his reputation as an agitator. Despite playing on a line with Reilly Smith, Marchand had no problem getting in the ear of Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith, his teammate's brother. Marchand made sure his antics in between and after the whistles stayed within the rules, and he clearly distracted some of the younger Red Wings players.

"But it's for me to play better. You know when I want to play that way, it's good to see guys get off, get aggravated and stuff like that," Marchand said. "But it allows me to play better, I get more into the game, more emotionally involved, and I just feel like my game's a little better when I do that."

Marchand isn't all about the trash talk and the scrums. He has scored as many as 28 goals in a season and he scored 25 in 82 games in 2013-14. He had 19 points during the Bruins' run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship, including five goals and seven points against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.

Had he aimed better, Marchand would've scored a couple goals in Game 4 (he missed two empty nets) and the Red Wings would've felt the full wrath of his game. Marchand and the Bruins are going to have to be on their best behavior against the Canadiens, but that doesn't mean Marchand has to be a saint.

"I get asked about Brad a lot, and I mean, he pushes the envelope," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarell said. "But that's how he plays, and there are times he does stuff that you just think, 'Oh, Brad, you don't have to do that.' But I know him, I understand how he plays, I've seen players like that over the years, and they have to play on the edge. And Montreal has a lot of those -- two, maybe two of those. I'm not saying we only have one also, but Brad's the one you're asking me about. So they're valuable players to the team and we have to manage them. And I like Brad, [coach] Claude [Julien] likes Brad, and he's a very good player."

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