After an offseason full of change, Boston Bruins veteran winger Brad Marchand reminded the Dallas Stars, the NHL, and Bruins fans that the more things change, they can still stay the same. Marchand scored on a penalty shot with 2:22 left in the first period and then sealed a 3-1 season-opening win for the Boston Bruins with an empty-netter with 1:37 left in regulation. Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored the eventual game-winner 4:43 into the third period.
After scoring 29 goals and adding 40 assists in 53 games last season, Marchand picked up where he left off and dazzled the sellout crowd at TD Garden with his skill, tenacity, and leadership once again.
“Very good That’s fairly typical, right?” Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy replied when asked to describe his veteran winger’s performance. “He draws a penalty [on the first goal] – a really, really smart play because it looks like things are going to be offsides but he didn’t touch the puck, so he doesn’t have it under control, so it’s a tag up. So, as always, he’s thinking quick on his feet, gets himself in position for a penalty shot, finishes.
The empty-net goal – again, good job on the wall – both third-period goals, we win a wall battle and we win a foot race. That’s something we weren’t doing in the second period when the ice got tilted more towards our end. Again, another good example of just good simple hockey this time of year. Highly skilled players just kind of playing behind their D and putting pucks in their areas, and then using their speed and tenacity. He was thinking quick on his feet, gets himself in a position for a penalty shot, finishes. The empty-net goal…all-around a good game for Marchy in every area.”
In his post-game presser, Marchand was simply thrilled he didn’t miss and embarrass himself on the penalty shot.
“It’s nice when those things work out,” said Marchand. “The only thing I was really thinking about was don’t miss it. So that worked out, the hard part, got by that pretty quick and lucky that one went in.”
Marchand broke in and ripped a wrister by Dallas Stars goalie and longtime Bruins’ nemesis Braden Holtby’s blocker-side. With that lamplighter, he became only the third player in NHL history to record his team’s first goal of the season with a penalty shot. Mats Sundin (Oct. 4, 2006 with Toronto) and Marchand’s former teammate and current Bruins assistant coach Chris Kelly, (Oct. 3, 2013) did it against the Tampa Bay Lightning. By the way, the Bruins went on their ‘Boston Strong’ run to the Stanley Cup Final that season. This was Marchand’s fifth penalty-shot goal and he now has the third-most penalty shot goals in NHL history.
Your first Boston Bruins highlight of the season belongs to the one and only, Brad Marchand. pic.twitter.com/2hqIjkcLIM
— NESN (@NESN) October 16, 2021
“I kind of actually let up for a second after I picked it up,” said Marchand. “I didn’t see, I think it was [David Pastrnak] offside, right away. I saw him kind of coming and I kind of waited a split second to see if it was gonna be off and then when I didn’t hear the whistle, I kind of just kept going and tried to get inside of Suter and luckily they called that one.”
For Marchand and the Boston Bruins, this was their first season opener at home in front of a packed house at TD Garden since October 5, 2017, (against the Nashville Predators), and their first in front of fans since their season opener for the 2019-20 season when they ironically opened on the road against the Stars on October 3, 2019. For Marchand, the pageantry and excitement of Opening Night never gets old, especially considering what he, his teammates, and the world, in general, have been through since COVID paused the 2019-20 season on March 12, 2020.
“No because the summer really drags on and then training camp especially this year,” Marchand said when asked if the pre-game celebrations lose meaning as he gets older. “I think we always get excited to get back and see the team we have, and be in front of our crowd again, alot more normal this year than the last couple. So, it was real exciting to come in this year. A little nerve-wracking actually – butterflies – but it was fun.”
Despite the dragged-out training camp and preseason, Marchand and his new teammates made the best of it.
“I think with the group we have – we’ve bonded so quick already and really come together quickly,” the Bruins 33-year-old Alternate Captain said. “I think we’re all really excited to see what we’re gonna do this year, how it’s gonna play out. And I think tonight was just a great example, especially early, with how good of a team we’re gonna be.”