BRIGHTON, MA – While he absolutely wasn’t going to finger it as the biggest factor behind a recent scoring slump that’s seen him go six games without a goal, Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand admitted that there’s a bit of tentativeness to his game that comes with having already been suspended twice this season.
Marchand was suspended for six games after getting into it Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry and has just one game with any goals in the eight games since returning to the lineup. Couple that with David Pastrnak no longer bringing his scoring bursts to the Perfection Line during games now that he’s skating on the second line, and even Marchand admitted there’s a bit of a slowdown as of late with some good reasons behind it.
“It’s definitely there are times,” said Marchand, when asked about having the suspensions in the back of his mind after serving two different suspensions worth nine games this season. “I’m going to have to be cautious of that until I retire. It definitely kind of weighs on you, having two [suspensions] so close together [this season]. It can’t happen again. It definitely weighs on your mind a bit.
“Also, I was out for two weeks and didn’t practice a whole lot. That takes a little bit of time to get that back as well. I’ve just got to work. I can’t have really any excuses for that. I’ve got to be a good player for this group and still play my game within those parameters.”
Make no mistake that Marchand has been a good player even without the goals as of late. He still has five points over that span with a plus-3 rating and 19 shots on net as well, but also has run into a bit of bad puck luck.
“It happens at times,” said Marchand. “I think there were like three or four games where I had six-plus shots on net, some really good looks and it doesn’t go in. I missed a couple of prime opportunities, a breakaway and one in close that I should have had. And that happens. Sometimes you get two goals on two shots in a game, and you can have a terrible game.
“It’s just how it goes at times, and you’ve got to work through it. I haven’t been at my best, which directly affects my decision-making at times, so it’s getting back to being a little simpler and more direct, and maybe hanging around the net a little bit more.”
It’s always going to be difficult for an energy player like Marchand, whose performance is directly tied to his emotional engagement in any particular game. At moments when he’s purposely trying to keep his cool, the concern is whether that also can have a cooling effect on his overall game. It may require an adjustment or the time it takes for Marchand to simply move further away from his recent brush with the NHL Department of Player Safety.
“I would say Brad is working really hard not to let things bother him and get frustrated. That’s a useless emotion, so to speak,” said coachBruce Cassidy. “You can get angry and channel that into some energy. I think maybe he is being a little careful in certain situations that typically would get his motor running. And that’s OK. He’s just got to learn to play that way anyway. This might be a little bit of the process as well.”
The good news in all of this: The Boston Bruins 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have won early and often with Marchand suspended, and then with him working back to his normal “A” game after sitting out two weeks on the suspended list.