Brad Marchand’s time to shine and other Cup Final Game 6 thoughts

Matt Kalman
June 08, 2019 - 9:33 pm

When the Bruins were facing the prospect of watching the Vancouver Canucks celebrate a Stanley Cup championship on TD Garden ice in Game 6 of 2011, who got them off and running offensively?

Brad Marchand scored the first of Boston’s four goals in the first 9:45 of that game that sent the series back to Vancouver, where Boston would eventually raise the Cup.

When the Bruins were not just down 3-2 in their first-round series against Toronto this year, but also down 1-0 in Game 6 at Scotiabank Arena, who got the Bruins’ offense going?

That’s right, Marchand scored a power-play goal 11:23 into the first period to tie the score 1-1 in a game Boston won 4-2.

There’s no doubt who has to get going for Boston to survive Game 6 of this year’s Cup Final on Sunday. Marchand has one goal, an empty-netter, in five games in this series and hasn’t scored in the past four games.

After he had no shots on net in Game 4, he had four in Game 5, showing signs of life. He had been more active in Game 5 against the Maple Leafs (five shots in a point-less game) before he had two goals and one assist in addition to six shots in Game 6, but perhaps Marchand is finding his groove.

“Obviously he’s a 100-point player and one of the best in the league for a reason. And we have no doubt in him or anything like that,” Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk said Saturday. “It’s obviously encouraging to see him shoot the puck more, but in saying that we never question that he’s going to be ready to go or anything like that. He brings the best game that he can and we have the utmost confidence in him.”

Even if Marchand doesn’t do the scoring, or his linemates don’t score, he has to find other ways to contribute. When you look back at rookie Marchand against Vancouver, he not only had a big goal in Game 6 but earned 12 penalty minutes. He was a pest to the highest power in that game and in that series. He’s matured and become more disciplined in 2019, but one would hope that maybe a little bit of the pest will come out with the Bruins’ backs against the wall.

The Blues are flying high and Marchand should probably find a way to get into their heads (especially goalie Jordan Binnington) a little bit with the Cup in the house and so much franchise history resting on the Blues’ shoulders.

Marchand always tends to play his best when he has a little hate to his game, so it’s time for five games of frustration to come out Sunday.

Here are a few more thoughts I’m having before Game 6:

*It’s the duty of everyone covering the series to request to hear from Zdeno Chara. And it’s Chara’s obligation, if he’s an active participant in practice, to speak to the media when requested. But you had to cringe a bit watching him address the media through a jaw that can barely open a crack, sounding like the Tin Man before he gets oiled.

Since around the time Chara passed his 40th birthday he’s become warmer around reporters and as transparent about his feelings than any player. His Instagram posts this year were legendary. One has to wonder if everyone would’ve been better off with him communicating through social media until his jaw is better.

Also telling: he refused to say where his jaw is broken. One has to wonder if the proud but self-deferential Chara will ever reveal the extent of his facial injury.

*This space called on coach Bruce Cassidy to eschew sentiment and replace David Backes with Karson Kuhlman before Game 5. Instead the coach sat Backes for a seventh defensemen in the lineup. Assuming the Bruins go back to the traditional 12-6 alignment, Cassidy should go back to Backes.

If anyone has the ability to come through with a big game, doing what he does best, and with an extra few days rest since he last played in Game 4, it’s Backes. The Bruins might need him to establish the tone physically, and even if he empties the tank and can’t go in a potential Game 7, the Bruins have to let him be part of the mission to prevent a Blues home-ice celebration.

*The complaints about the Tyler Bozak non-call on Noel Acciari in Game 5 were surprising considering how experienced the Bruins are and how often they’re typically stoic in the face of adversity. That talk about the call leaked into the first off day before Game 6 was unseemly and bordered on something Boston would make fun of Montreal for doing. Let’s face it, Bill Belichick would never have let there be so much talk about a missed call.

One has to hope that the extra day off helped the Bruins turn the page because the missed call became such a focal point. The Bruins can’t go out on the ice Sunday looking for calls or assuming the whistles won’t be blown. They have to just pretend Game 6 is the only game of the series and forget anything and everything that happened before.

Defenseman Brandon Carlo is confident the Bruins will be focused properly.

“Obviously time in between games lets you sit and think on it a little bit more,” he said. “But we’re trying to keep a positive attitude in here that the coaching staff has done a good job of kind of putting that behind us, not really even talking about it. So we’re just focused on the next game and from there working hard to make things happen in regard of winning.”

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