BOSTON — The Bruins’ offense has been stagnant at times despite their early success this season, but there’s at least one person you can’t blame for any of those intermittent struggles.
That player would be Brad Marchand, who in the midst of something of an offensive renaissance in the early going.
Marchand has proved in his two full seasons in the NHL that he can put the puck in the net. He scored 21 goals in his first full season in 2010-11 and followed that up with 28 last season.
But he’s scoring at an even better clip, with seven goals in his first 10 games this season, a 50-goal pace in a full 82-game season.
Marchand continued that in a big way on Tuesday night against the Rangers when he scored with under a minute to play to force overtime in a game the Bruins eventually lost in the shootout. He also added a goal in the shootout, his second of the season.
The pesky forward pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and picked a corner above Henrik Lundqvist‘s left shoulder, right under the crossbar, with 42.3 seconds to play to tie the game.
It certainly looks as if Marchand is evolving into a bona fide goal scorer in the NHL, but he’d rather describe it another way.
“I feel OK, but I think a lot of it is lucky,” a modest Marchand said after the game. “You saw the bounce [off of Patrice Bergeron in front of the net], the lucky bounce and an open net. I’m feeling pretty good, but a lot of it is luck.
But if you watch the replay, you’ll see that luck is just a small factor in that goal. Marchand was the one who coralled the puck as it came around the boards before throwing it front. From there, he went straight to the net, putting himself in position for that “lucky” bounce. And when he got that puck, he did have an opening — a gap about the size of say a hockey puck — and he took advantage with a snipe.
It was a goal-scorer’s goal, the combination of intuition, instinct, skill and some self-induced luck.
That’s not to say Marchand’s not doing other little things that pay dividends. He’s still the same pest that he’s always been, unafraid to mix it up after the whistle in an attempt to get under the opponent’s skill. The ability to do that, as well as continue to pour in goals, is something that may take him to the next level as a player.
The Bruins will need for Marchand to keep that up, at least until players like Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton, players who have also earned the moniker of goal scorers, start to actually score goals on a more consistent basis.
But if they don’t start picking it up, it’s not unrealistic to think that Marchand will keep this pace, or something closely resembling, it up.
Marchand, who didn’t play competitively during the lockout, says his best may still be on its way.
“It was good to be able to rest and let my body rejuvenate,” he said. “But at the same time, I felt very slow and I wasn’t able to make plays. I’m still not as sharp as I should be, and that’s obviously from not playing over the lockout.”
If Marchand does start to turn it on and play up to his own expectations of himself, we may be looking at the Bruins’ new go-to guy.