Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Bruins 3, Flyers 2: Brad Marchand is on a mission

Ty Anderson
March 08, 2018 - 11:15 pm

As Bruins center Patrice Bergeron hobbled through the press box on crutches, his perma-linemate, Brad Marchand, was once again at ice level saving his best for last.

But the 5-foot-9 Marchand decided that overtime was no longer the thrill it had been in the previous two games, and decided to instead break Flyers netminder Alex Lyon’s heart with just 22 seconds in the third period to seal the deal on a 3-2 Bruins victory.

While the strike would come as Marchand’s lone point in a 19:25 night on ice, the goal extended his scoring streak to three straight games, and gives him a staggering five goals and nine points in the five games since Bergeron’s exit from the B’s lineup.

“He just keeps on ticking,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Thursday’s victory, his club’s fifth straight. “You know, him and [David Pastrnak] have done a nice job without Bergeron, and so has Riley Nash filling in there, and [David Krejci]; we switched it up a little bit late. But that’s Brad. He seems like he’s on a bit of a mission with Bergy out that he wants to pick the team up in the offensive part of it.”

“He competes, he works hard,” B’s captain Zdeno Chara, who saw the second ‘A’ go to Marchand for Thursday’s game, said. “When he doesn’t have the puck, he works to get it back. When he has it, he works to keep it. He makes things happen. He battles and he plays his style, he’s on the edge and he wants to make a difference every shift.”

What Marchand is doing both with and without Bergeron this season has been nothing short of incredible, though. Even if it’s a mere continuation of his recent offensive trend upwards, headlined by statistical improvements from season to season.

Through 52 games, No. 63 has recorded 29 goals and 67 points. Those marks not only lead all Boston skaters, but also stand as the 16th-most in the NHL. And if we were to break it down on a point-per-game pace, only Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeni Malkin have average more points-per-game than Marchand’s 1.29 per contest. That paces Marchand out to a staggering 106-point campaign over the life of an 82-game season, which is a surely elite and most definitely Hart-like campaign. It would also make him the first Black and Gold skater to record at least 100 points in a season since Joe Thornton accomplished the feat with 101 points in the 2002-03 season.

(Marchand, of course, does not have such a milestone within his grasp this season thanks to a five-game ban for a cheapshot elbow to the head of Marcus Johansson in January and an undisclosed injury that shelved him for six games back in November.)

But those games missed (and missed Hart votes) have not managed to take a single thing away from Marchand’s emergence as one of hockey’s clutch performers.

“He’s got the nose to the net,” Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask remarked. “That overtime goal last game was pretty much just all him. Individual effort. When you’re hot, you’re hot, that’s what we say. We seem to find those loose pucks. But definitely he’s a battler, he never quits on a play so it’s good that he gets rewarded for sure.

“I think he’s always like that, but now Bergy being out from their line and David Backes being out, he wants to be a difference maker even more and the past few games he’s been that, so great for him. He’s even got the letter on his chest.”

And Rask, making his first start since a 'very, very minor injury' scratched him from a start last Saturday, finished with 31 saves on 33 shots faced. 

"It was sharp," Rask said of his night. "Got into the game early with the power play, a lot of shots there. Felt sharp."

Peppered throughout the night (especially early), Cassidy found that the 30-year-old Rask was delivering his biggest stops from in tight, where the Flyers tried to push their attack. 

"That’s where, I thought, he looked like himself again. Looked sharp in there. He was under control," said Cassidy. "So, obviously, the time off has, probably – listen, we talked to him dealing with a nagging injury, but it’s helped him to get back to where he needs to be, and we’ll see how he recovers tomorrow. That’s probably the best test, see if he’s sore or just your typical game sore."

The Bruins will look for a clean sweep of this six-game homestand Saturday when they play host to the Blackhawks. 

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