Boston Bruins opponents are taking notice of Brad Marchand’s unsurpassed scoring rate on the team and it is still not doing much to remedy the threat.
The notice they are taking is evident in the fact that Marchand has drawn three opposing penalties in his four games since sitting out a Feb. 6 visit to Montreal with a shoulder ailment. He had only drawn one—a hooking minor on opening night against the New York Rangers Carl Hagelin—in the first eight games of the 2013 season prior to that momentary injury.
The fact that he is inflicting another type of negative scoresheet entry on the adversary and has one goal for each of those three power plays drawn only compounds his early impact.
That impact reached a new height in Sunday evening’s tilt with the Winnipeg Jets. The Bruins had just finished the second period with their second equalizer of the night, coming off the stick of Daniel Paille with two seconds left and only 25 ticks after Evander Kane had restored the Winnipeg lead.
Returning to the fresh sheet, Marchand went all out to verify and cement the usurped momentum. Only nine seconds had hopped off the clock before he was tripped by Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey.
The subsequent man advantage lasted all of 27 seconds, long enough for Marchand to take a hit from former teammate Mark Stuart and then convert Patrice Bergeron’s forward pass to the middle lane on an upstairs backhand. It stood as the decider in a 3-2 victory.
With that, Marchand, who also leads Boston with 10 takeaways, now has twice as many goals overall (eight) and firsthand power-play conversions (two) as any of his Bruins teammates. In addition, he has directly drawn two of the team’s last three power plays, both of which they have converted.
Late in last Friday’s first period, just as it was for Hainsey, Marchand had Buffalo Sabres forward Drew Stafford cited for tripping. Near the end of Stafford’s sentence, Dougie Hamilton slugged home a 1-1 equalizer with 2:04 remaining before intermission.
Five nights earlier, in the same matchup on the same pond at the First Niagara Center, Marchand drew an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Steve Ott in the third minute of the middle frame. He was partaking in the five-on-four attack when fellow forward Rich Peverley drew a cross-checking penalty on Alexander Sulzer, creating a five-on-three for 40 seconds.
Although the Bruins did not convert either of those advantages, they cemented the sustained momentum less than two minutes after Sulzer’s release. None other than Marchand broke the ice at 7:10 en route to a 3-1 victory, which also featured a power-play conversion via Patrice Bergeron.
As of Tuesday morning, the Boston power play is tied with that of the Columbus Blue Jackets for second-worst in the NHL, having converted six of 46 opportunities. But recent developments point to a sharp, favorable U-turn.
Prior to and during Marchand’s brief absence, the Bruins were 3-of-34 with the man advantage, which amounted to an 8.8 percent conversion rate in their first nine ventures.
Of those three fruitful power plays, Marchand has had a noteworthy role in each, whether he scored the goal, was on the ice for it, drew the power play in the first place or any combination of the three.