By now, you’ve all heard the Bruins being in the next man up phase.
To refresh, the B’s started the week without Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy; both nursing lower-body injuries. David Backes began a three-game suspension 48 hours later. That left the Bruins without their top center, top right shot defenseman and one of their power forwards against the Flyers at TD Garden.
Things haven’t been perfect for the Black and Gold during this time. That comes with the territory in replacing the aforementioned trio. It doesn’t take one, two, or even three guys to replace Bergeron, McAvoy and Backes, but rather a complete effort from all 20 players.
However, there’s been one constant performer throughout this stretch, one who has been doing it without the other half of his dynamic duo: Brad Marchand.
Marchand, of course, has a bit of a target on his back thanks to his goal scoring and his reputation to get under his opponent’s skin. The latter cost him a couple of minor penalties, but he kept plugging away against a pesky Flyers squad and eventually got rewarded, again, with his third straight game-winning goal.
“He seems like he’s on a bit of a mission with Bergy [Bergeron] out that he wants to pick the team up in the offensive part of it,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said about Marchand. “He got frustrated tonight with a couple of calls that one went against him and one didn’t [go his way] where he thought he was held on a shorty. But at the end of the day he kept plugging away — refocused — and he does a good job for us.”
“I think we all have to carry the load a bit. I think we’re all feeling that,” Marchand said. “It’s very hard missing a guy like him and McAvoy for a few games, and it’s tough to replace them. So, I think we all feel that a bit, and have to step up.”
It was only fitting that Marchand donned the ‘A’ along with David Krejci against the Flyers. Even without a letter on his chest, Marchand has developed into one of the leaders inside the B’s locker room and away from the rink.
Ironically enough, Marchand was a little self-critical postgame. Maybe he didn’t like the two penalties he took to put the Bruins shorthanded, or maybe he thought he was too cute with his puck handling and forcing plays at certain points of the game.
“Yeah, you know, it was nice. It shows the confidence that they have, and you know, it’s a great honor, so anytime you’re allowed to put that on it feels really good,” Marchand said about wearing the ‘A’. “But I wish I would have played better with it on and hopefully I’ll be better next game.”
Four shots on goal and another game-winner in 19:25 of ice time wasn’t all that impressive, apparently. But his impact is certainly felt both on the ice and inside the dressing room.
“I think he’s always like that,” Tuukka Rask (31 saves in his first game since last Thursday) assessed about Marchand’s leadership. “But now with Bergy being out of their line and Backes being out, he wants to be a difference maker even more and the past few games, he’s been that, so great for him. He even got the letter on his chest.”
“Yeah absolutely,” newcomer Brian Gionta added after notching his first goal as a Bruin late int he first period. “I mean what he can do and how shifty he is, it was always frustrating playing against him, but being on the same side of him you have a new appreciation for what he can do for sure.”
He might have had a nice gift with the puck laying there in front of the scrum to tuck it past Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon for the game-winner Thursday night. Postgame, even Rask joked that he could’ve scored that game-winner.
The Bruins’ injury bug, however, is no joke — nor is Marchand carrying the team on his back in the clutch.