Over the past few seasons, the Bruins’ locker room has gone through some changes. Gone were the days of being a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Former mainstays like Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, Loui Eriksson, Johnny Boychuk and Tyler Seguin (to name a few) found new homes through trade or free agency.
Only a few remain from their 2011 Stanley Cup triumph and the run back to the Cup Final two years later. That core still intact includes captain and ageless wonder Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci as the two ‘A’s’, Tuukka Rask as the team’s stalwart goalie, Adam McQuaid holding steady as a bottom pairing defenseman and Brad Marchand, who over the past two years has solidified his spot as one of the league’s prolific goal scorers.
As he enters his eighth full season with the Black and Gold, Marchand is looking to top another stellar season in 2016-17 (39 goals, 46 assists, 85 points) where he shattered his career highs set in 2015-16 (37-24-61). Had it not been for a suspension served in the final two games of the ’16-17 regular season, Marchand might have gotten a few more votes as a finalist for the Hart Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s most valuable player.
This begs the question, what does Marchand have up his sleeve in 2017-18? Well, for one thing it’s to build off those two years and not so much duplicate what happened in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
“I don’t think that’s the goal – to recreate [what I did the last two years],” Marchand said following Wednesday’s captain’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I think, you know, we were put in some really good positions the last couple of years, and sometimes things just bounce your way, and that’s the way it’s been going [for me] over the last two seasons.”
Sure, Marchand has had a few fortunate bounces come his way. In a long season, hockey players, especially at the NHL level, are the beneficiaries of puck luck every once in awhile.
And sure, Marchand has been put in a good position to succeed. Playing with fellow linemate and four-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron for most of his eight years in Boston helps. So did increased time on the power play over the last two years and his status as one of the Bruins’ top penalty killers.
All this, along with patented traits that include his shorthanded play, his slick snap shot and his ability to still get under opponents’ skin has resulted in Marchand being considered among the NHL elite. He has the stats to back that up ranking fifth in goals (76), second in shorthanded goals (7) and tied for first in shorthanded points (11) among all NHL skaters over the last two seasons.
Marchand’s mindset over the ebbs and flows of a season isn’t so much about being results oriented, but rather how he tries to conduct himself from September on.
“I think it’s more about the preparation and the way that you prepare every day taking care of yourself before each game,” Marchand stated, “and if you do that, you’ll be consistent. But, you don’t want to look at the end goal, you want to look at the process.”
Marchand’s journey into a top-notch offensive threat has become a process in and of itself. He started off as an agitator with a nose for the puck. Though he’s lost five games to supplemental discipline over the last two years, there’s no denying that he’s earned his status in discussions regarding the NHL’s top scorers.
He helped keep the Bruins’ postseason hopes alive in 2015-16. A year later, he played a big part in getting the team back on track under Bruce Cassidy in their return to the 16-team field. Good things should happen for both Marchand and the Black and Gold if the progression continues in 2017-18.