Brad Marchand - LW
Brad Marchand. Hockey Player. Left Winger. Boston Bruin. All-Star!
Kind of a prick if you’re his opponent.
These are all things we’re all more than aware of by now in Brad Marchand’s 9th season as a Bruin. And since his elevation to first liner, he’s been business as usual.
Which is to say, a team-leading 85 point season in which he could only get 68 games in thanks to injury or...well...we’ll get to the other thing.
In other words, he was a force. And a very welcome force he was. For goalies across the NHL, there were few things that inspired dread than Marchand on a breakaway, because his casual ability to outwait, outskill, outspeed, and out-everything the defense on the way to a goal is only matched by some of the best the game has to offer.
Especially when he had the puck on his backhand, which Travis Yost revealed in a recent piece for TSN that Marchand’s backhand is the single most successful backhander in the entire NHL. And he got plenty of use out of it in 2017-18.
It was during this season after all, where Marchand became the deciding factor in nearly every OT win the Bruins got this year. To the point where it almost became the strategy in overtime. His analytical dominance of the NHL as part of the first line is nothing to sneeze at either, he simply demolished any player or backcheck in front of him without much effort and drove play like a madman.
But of course...that isn’t what he got people talking about.
Because you see, Brad Marchand is a pro wrestling heel living in an NHL player’s body. A modern day Ric Flair on skates. And depending on what you think an NHL player should be, he is many things to many people. He can be hilarious, entertaining...or a justified mark against rooting for the team, and a scourge on the NHL as a whole. There’s no one in the NHL who can get under your skin quite like Brad, who once again got himself in pointless trouble because he was trying to get players off of their game, and made headlines because he missed games for the 6th time since 2011 because of elbowing, and brought the entire NHL fanbase collectively into a fervor because he had taken to...licking people. And didn’t stop until the NHL felt the need to step in about it.
Which became the narrative around Brad Marchand this year. Not the backhander that is apparently more dangerous than some players’ wrist shots, not his ability to carve defenses in half...his licking.
Of course, once the playoffs began (and he also licked another player), fans tried their best to forget all that because he was one of a select group of players on the team who was able to remain a powerful and consistent force across both series, ending his postseason as 2nd on the team in points and 4th in goals.
Yep, all in a season’s work for the pesky third of the best line in hockey.
Aggregate Grade: A-
While his nonsense antics aside that probably killed an almost assured A+ grade in the long run, Brad Marchand is still a world-class NHLer who knows how to carve defenses and your own expectations without much concern for anyone. Marchand remains one of the driving forces of the Boston Bruins and one of the very best in the NHL, much to the chagrin of everyone else around him.
And if he says he’s done with the whole “licking people” thing, one can only hope he’s genuine about his want to change and is actually turning over a new leaf and will focus on being an all-zones scoring threat from now on.
...But I’m sure we know better by this point. And I for one am eager to see what new thing he does to piss people off. It’ll probably be real dumb.
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