Boston's very own pest-y, diminutive forward had himself quite the regular season in 2013. Building on the promise that he manifested over the course of the past two seasons, Brad Marchand continued to prove his offensive abilities as well as his defensive strengths. Playing with Bergeron as your most stable linemate helps, of course, but any way you slice it, Marchand had a great (if likely unrepeatable) year.
Despite missing three games with a concussion, Marchand had a really freakin' great season, offensively. He led the team in scoring (18 goals, 36 points) and points/60 (2.85), and was a plus-23. Skating on a line with Perfect Patrice, he also did all that against tough competition (with a Corsi RelQoC of .848, second only to Chris Kelly among forwards). That line as a whole was stellar at driving play this year, with Marchand, Bergeron, and Seguin all having Corsi ons in the 20s -- the highest among forwards -- while playing against the best of opposing team's players.
Marchand also contributed on the PK, playing an average of 1:27 per 60 minutes shorthanded. He continued to develop his pest-y ways, too, drawing 1 penalty per 60 over the course of the season. Marchand's ability to get under other players' skins remains undiminished, which is good -- he also didn't cross the line this year, and was not the recipient of any supplemental discipline, which is even better. While he still took .6 penalties per 60, that's the lowest rate in his regular season career - only 27 penalty minutes on the season, for someone who earns his bread and butter partly through antagonizing opposing players, is pretty impressive. Marchand seems to be finding that balance between being a productive irritant without taking himself off the ice for extended periods to the detriment of the team.
His shooting percentage, alas, was unsustainable (19.8% is high for him, though more reasonable than the 48-ish % he was rocking earlier in the season), and his PDO was also a touch higher than normal at 1034 (but not ridiculously so). While it would be unfair to expect him to sustain this scoring pace over the course of 82 games (projected out over a full 82, he would have been on pace for over 30 goals), the falloff shouldn't be *that* drastic, based on his history, and most importantly he certainly made the most of the playing time he had this year, and worked that puck luck for all it was worth.
The playoffs were a bit of an up and down affair for Marchand. He started slow during the Toronto series (until the last 5 minutes or so of game 7, anyway), but followed that with 2 goals and 4 assists in 5 games against the Rangers. Game 2 against the Penguins epitomized everything that Marchand brings as a player: he was a brat, he yapped at everyone around him, he antagonized Matt Cooke before grabbing the puck and flying down the ice to score, leaving a pissed off Cooke in his wake:
Alas, Marchand wasn't much of a factor in the final, finishing with zero points despite logging big minutes (more than 2 minutes more per game than during the season). On the other hand, that Bergeron-Marchand-Jagr line still put up impressive Corsi on numbers (13.20 for Marchand) and were aces at maintaining possession. So: two good series, two middling ones--which is better than can be said for some players on the Bs. Overall, the playoffs were more of a mixed bag than the rousing success that was Marchand's regular season.
Was Brad Marchand's P/60 pace this season unsustainable? You bet. Nonetheless, his production this year can't be argued with, and his ability to drive play alongside Bergeron continues to be exceptional. The playoffs certainly saw a dip in his effectiveness, but overall, he definitely earned his Olympic Camp invite with his play in 2013. He continues to epitomize the dude you hate if he's on any other team, but love if he's on yours -- I suspect many of us wouldn't have it any other way.
A final word: rumor has it that Marchand has been practicing with a bunch of other NHL-ers in Halifax this summer, including one Sidney Crosby himself. By all accounts, their chemistry during a scrimmage last week was pretty bitchin'. Not saying that secures him a spot on the Olympic roster or anything, and even if he were to make it he wouldn't be playing on a line with Canada's starting center (not to mention that Crosby would have on-ice chemistry with anyone, up to and including a small wooden table), but: a Marchand-Crosby combo, with their combined speed and tenacity with the puck makes me feel all tingly, I can't lie.