Longtime Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand took his game and leadership to another level while his longtime teammate and Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron missed the first four games of the Bruins’ first round series with the Florida Panthers.
After a subpar finish down the stretch of the 2022-23 regular season, Marchand has found his game again with three goals and an assist in four games. What’s been more impressive though, has been the concerted effort by Marchand to fill the leadership void created by Bergeron’s absence. While some NHL fans and media are still surprised when they hear someone call Marchand a ‘leader, his longtime linemate and good friend was not surprised at all to see the 34-year-old Marchand essentially fill the captain’s role for the first four games of this series that the Bruins can clinch in Game 5, Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“There’s no surprises there for me,” Bergeron said of his longtime wingman. “I’ve seen him evolve over the years, and become the player he is, the person he is now, and the leader. Whether it’s leading by example or also speaking up when it’s the right time, I think he’s grown into that role, and I’m not surprised.”
Another source of irony to some across the league has been watching Brad Marchand become the model citizen for discipline. The NHL betting line on Marchand not taking a retaliatory penalty in the series had to be pretty low, but he hasn’t. Led by Hart Trophy candidate, lead team pest and alternate captain Matthew Tkachuk, the Panthers have done their best to goad the once ready to engage Marchand into nonsense between the whistles, and with plenty of late hits. However, the player that almost got suspended for licking an opponent in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and who has regrettably cost his teammates games by crossing the line, is now the pillar of turning the other cheek in this series.
Patrice Bergeron has noticed his alternate captain’s ability to not take the bait but isn’t surprised at that either.
“There’s bigger things at stake and there’s more important things for us as a team but also individually,” Bergeron said Marchand’s maturity and discipline. “We gotta put the egos aside. I think he understands that. He’s always been a great forward in the playoffs and stepping up and being a leader on and off the ice. It’s the same thing right now.”
Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk has had the luxury of being linemates with both Bergeron and Marchand for most of this season. Based on what’s he’s learned about Marchand this season and since he entered the NHL in the 2017-18 season, hDeBrusk wasn’t surprised either that one of the NHL’s highest-scoring wingers since the 2016-17 season, was the quasi-captain in Bergeron’s absence.
“I think it was big with a couple of guys but yeah, ‘Marchy’ led the way a lot,” DeBrusk said. “Talking to him a lot throughout the games and even some things that were said pregame’s, he definitely did take that leadership role. It’s one of those things where we all knew, and he knows too the position he’s in, and that’s the makeup of him and this team.”
As DeBrusk pointed out, now the Boston Bruins will have the luxury of having both elite leaders in lineup and in the dressing room. That luxury has helped shape DeBrusk as a player and a person.
“It’s been amazing,” DeBrusk said of having Marchand and Bergeron as regular linemates this past season. “I’ve been really blessed ever since I came to the Bruins organization honestly. This leadership was even here obviously with ‘Zee’, and then on through [Marchand and Bergeron], and see what all those guys do on a daily basis in both practices and games, and in the gym. I see what they do, and see all the sacrifice, and it puts everything into perspective; what guys do and why, and what they’re thinking. As the years have gone by, I’ve built a stronger relationship with them on and off the ice.
This is my sixth year in the league, and obviously we get new faces in and out of the lineup but these two have been the one constant since my first game and even before that. They haven’t changed and it’s impressive to say the least. It’s something that rubs off on you. You just be a sponge and learn, You can’t be like them but you can try and be yourself the best way possible with what you learn from them.”
With both Bergeron and Marchand in the lineup now, the NHL betting odds on them closing out the series in five games are even higher.