6 Reasons Brad Marchand Will Continue His Goal-Scoring Hot Streak
Quick—name the Boston Bruin who's leading all NHL players with 10 shots or more in shooting percentage.
No, it's not David Krejci, even though the Czech forward leads the team in scoring. It's definitely not the frustrated Tyler Seguin, whose first goal of the season was an empty-netter. In fact, it's Brad Marchand, whose 8-of-18 release is good for a whopping 44.4 shooting percentage.
You might expect that number out of Seguin or Krejci, but to see Marchand's output at that level is a bit of a shock. It puts a player who scored 28 goals in 76 games last season on pace for over 30 goals in a maximum of 47 games this year. That's an incredible jump.
But there's a perfect storm of factors behind Marchand's meteoric rise on the Bruins' list of goal scorers thus far, and they suggest that the new goal-scoring threat in the No. 63 jersey is here to stay.
The Right Linemates
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The Bruins' scoring philosophy is somewhat communal, with each of the top three lines sharing the load. But Claude Julien's line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin has been the team's best since last season, when all three players ranked in the top five in team scoring and combined for a plus-101 rating.
This year has been more of the same, with all three once again in the top five through Sunday and a combined plus-21 through 13 games. The trio plays a responsible two-way game, and as a result the opportunities take care of themselves.
"A Goal Scorer's Release"
Marchand is tied for fourth in the league with two shootout goals in two attempts (the first two of his NHL career), and both have been dazzling.
The first beat Martin Brodeur to help the Bruins beat the Devils on January 29. Meanwhile, Bruins announcer Jack Edwards lauded Marchand's "goal scorer's release" on the second, a snipe on the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist. It's the kind of shot that you wouldn't expect out of a player better known for his ability to get under opponents' skin, and one that's even causing Bruins fans to marvel.
Picking Up the Slack
After lighting up the Swiss league, defending Bruins scoring champ Tyler Seguin started slow in his return to the NHL, failing to score a goal until potting an empty-netter against Carolina on January 28. To Marchand's credit, he's picked up the scoring slack for his friend and linemate, converting his shots as Seguin shakes off the snakebitten luck he's had thus far.
Seguin is still taking far more shots than Marchand, but Marchand has compensated for the poor luck by making his shots count.
Plenty of Rest
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Unlike many of his Bruins' teammates, Marchand elected not to play overseas during the lockout, leaving him one of the team's most well-rested players coming into the year. It was never in his plan to play overseas unless the season was cancelled outright; CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty claimed that Marchand's backup plan would have been spending the rest of the season in Japan.
That decision to hold out has proved the right one for the high-energy player, who may have more in the tank than anyone else out there on any given night.
A Special-Teams Threat
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Describing the Bruins' power play as "anemic" is too kind; with a percentage that hovers around 10, no team in the league fears taking penalties against Boston. But Marchand has broken out for two power-play goals this year, including the game-winner on Sunday at Winnipeg, as the team attempts to bring its power-play skills closer to those of its league-leading penalty kill.
Marchand has always excelled in shorthanded play (he scored five of his 21 goals in 2010-11 on the penalty kill), and with one already this season, his three special-teams goals lead the team.
Playing Smarter, Not Harder
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Players don't earn nicknames like "Honey Badger" without being feisty, and Marchand is certainly that; his agitating style of play hasn't exactly endeared him to fans around the league.
But so far this year, the "Little Ball of Hate" has been staying out of trouble, taking only two penalties as he recognizes his value as an offensive-minded player. The tradeoff is minimizing some of the aspects of his game that made him so easy to hate in rival markets, but when something works, it works.
And as long as it continues to work, the Bruins will find those agitating traits elsewhere. Marchand has found another role to fill in Boston.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.