Key stats: 70 GP, 32G, 48A, 80PTS
Additional stats: 23 even strength goals, 27 PP points, 62.6 CF% (5v5), 50.9 xGF
Reader rating: 8.9
Writer rating: 9
That name means a lot to Boston Bruins fans. Outside of Boston, it might as well be equivalent to one of George Carlin’s “seven dirty words you can’t say on television.”
Even some Bruins fans momentarily tire of his antics until he does something spectacular to erase whatever he did that was spectacularly dumb.
But, love him or hate him, Brad Marchand continued to show in 2021-22 that he is, arguably, the most valuable asset on the team, in spite of the return of his old, ratty ways.
On the scoresheet, where it matters most, Marchand continued to produce at the pace we’ve come to expect from him. He scored at a rate of more than a point per game, which he has done every season since 2015-16.
He led the team in points, three ahead of David Pastrnak in the regular season with 80 and four ahead of Patrice Bergeron in the playoffs with 11.
Marchand led the team in power play points, albeit in a season where the power play was uncharacteristically mediocre and struggled mightily during David Pastrnak’s injury.
He was again a massive part of the Bruins’ penalty kill that ranked in the top 10 of the NHL, which it has done consistently since 2016-17. In addition, Marchand led the team in shorthanded goals with two (three off his career high of five).
All of this goes to say that Marchand had another excellent season in 2021-22.
Still, it’s worth exploring the source of his consistency. Marchand continues to utilize his high-end skill to compensate for his lack of size. His hands are still incredible, his shot is still vicious, and he can read the ice and the development of the play to create more chances.
But one of the consistently underrated aspects of his game is how he can create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates seemingly out of nowhere.
From awkward angles, falling to the ice, outnumbered by opponents, and batting pucks out of mid-air Marchand in 2021-22, as he has done for most of his career, often made something out of nothing.
There was a major demerit for Marchand this past season which is worth considering: the return of his suspendable behavior.
The NHL suspended Marchand a total of nine games in 2021-22. They docked him three games for a slew foot of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in November and six games for punching Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry in February.
The Bruins were 4-3-2 during Marchand's suspensions.
The seventh and eighth suspensions of Marchand’s career – making him the most suspended player (by individual suspension incidents) in NHL history – were his first suspensions in nearly four years.
He went three full seasons without a suspension. That led Bruins fans to believe he knew how to walk the line of “over the top versus acceptable but agitating behavior” if it kept him engaged and productive on the scoresheet.
It turns out those behaviors are still present - his suspensions (the Jarry one in particular) were unnecessary, and for those of us who hope he’s remembered more for his ability than his antics, it was a tough pill to swallow.
Still, even with what hopefully ends up being just a couple of momentary backslides, Marchand remained the Bruins’ engine, and arguably their most valuable player, in 2021-2022.