Kalman: How Brad Marchand smoothed Marcus Johansson’s transition to the Bruins

Matt Kalman
February 26, 2019 - 11:23 pm

Brad Marchand had already asked for and received forgiveness from new teammate Marcus Johansson when the Bruins hit the TD Garden ice against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Just for extra incentive to give Johansson reason to forget the hit that sidelined the Swede for several months last season, though, Marchand went out and put on a vintage performance in a 4-1 win one day after the Bruins acquired Johansson from New Jersey for two draft picks.

Marchand scored a shorthanded goal to tie Rick Middleton’s career franchise record with 25. He also set up Charlie McAvoy’s go-ahead goal in the second period that broke a 1-1 tie and had a secondary assist on David Krejci’s game-tying power play goal.

While calling his incident with Marchand “water under the bridge” Tuesday morning, Johansson also acknowledged that Marchand is “one of the best players in the league.” And Marchand proved it.

He also proved that he’s a maturing leader with the type of team-first attitude that usurps his personal concerns. Once upon a time Marchand told a tale of how he was bracing to be hit when he leveled Johansson with an elbow to the head in December 2017 in a game against the Devils.

Marchand’s pleas didn’t prevent him from getting a five-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety. More than a year later, Marchand was no longer sticking to that story while mending fences with his new teammate.

“Yeah, obviously it was a very bad hit and obviously with how everything kind of played out after, so I just wanted to touch base and have a conversation,” Marchand said about his peace gesture toward Johansson. “I heard a lot of really good things about him as a teammate and as a guy. You know I just wanted to kind of have that conversation early, but he was very mature about the situation and handled it great. So it was good to talk to him, good to meet him today, and obviously what he brings to the group. Obviously we’re excited to have him here.”

Johansso,n for his part, fit right in, creating several chances while on a line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. He assisted on DeBrusk’s goal.

But Marchand, as he often does, stole the spotlight with his two-way performance helping to drive the Bruins’ new No. 1 line with Patrice Bergeron in his usual position at center but Danton Heinen now filling the role previously filled by the injured David Pastrnak.

Johansson got his first up-close look at Marchand’s on-ice skills without having to defend him. And there’s no doubt he’ll continue to learn the type of solid citizen Marchand is in the locker room. Remember, Marchand’s a pest, but when it came time to join Team Canada for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, he was embraced by his teammates – many of whom he’d had run-ins with in the past.

Sidney Crosby agreed to be Marchand’s linemate at that tournament, and The Kid always has time to compliment or workout with his fellow Nova Scotian. If Marchand was as bad as some fans make him out to be, regardless of where he’s from, Crosby would have already frozen him out.

What started with a phone call, grew into a tale of two productive teammates on separate forward lines and may someday feature them being linemates. Marchand and Johansson possibly just started a beautiful relationship.

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Related: Marcus Johansson on Brad Marchand incident: ‘That’s water under the bridge’

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