Brad Marchand showed why he is the most valuable Bruin in 2016-17.
And one the most valuable players in the entire National Hockey League.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks to start their four-game road trip north of the border – the first of three in Western Canada – Marchand carried the Black and Gold on his back. En route to the Bruins’ four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes, Marchand lit the lamp three times for his second career hat trick.
His most impressive goal of the bunch? The go-ahead goal where he stole the puck from Henrik Sedin and slipped the puck through Alex Edler’s and past a diving Ryan Miller.
“I had a little bit of speed and their [defenseman] was stopped,” Marchand told the media about his 34th of the season postgame. “So I figured if I could just get it on the other side of him and try to get a whack at it I might have a chance.”
Marchand’s empty netter sealed the Bruins’ 6-3 victory and put him in a tie with another Hart Trophy candidate, Sidney Crosby, for first among the league lead in goals with 35. His four-point night put him one behind Connor McDavid (75 points), another Hart Trophy candidate along with Crosby, Marchand and Brent Burns.
The seventh-year Bruin has been one of the more consistent Bruins all season long. His game has spiked significantly since Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien on an interim basis over one month ago. In his last 14 games, Marchand has 19 points on 12 goals and seven assists.
“I just feel he’s a guy that knows he can score, wants to score, and has the confidence to go out and try those moves. Shoot when he’s supposed to shoot, not look to overpass,” Cassidy, now 11-3-0 since replacing Julien, told reporters about Marchand. “Great chemistry with [Patrice] Bergeron, so they’re obviously feeding off each other.”
Here are some other things that we learned from the B’s season sweep of the Canucks.
Tuukka earns career win No. 200
His second period gaffe on Alex Edler’s goal that gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead was part of a mistake-ridden 40 minutes for the Bruins. It’s safe to say that Tuukka Rask made up for that.
With the game tied at 3-3 near the midway point of the third period, Rask made the save of the night on Michael Granlund’s bid for a hat trick. His right pad save kept the game tied and allowed Marchand and the rest of the Bruins to take over and establish momentum.
It may not be the equivalent to hoisting the Stanley Cup in Vancouver, but getting win No. 200 at the proverbial scene of the crime six years ago is a decent accomplishment worth celebrating for about 24 hours.
The most difficult stretch of the season
The Bruins have come a long way in their 14 games of the Cassidy regime. Their next seven games will no doubt go a long way in determining their postseason fate.
Beginning tomorrow night, the Bruins seven-game slate includes the red-hot Flames, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Senators, Lightning, Islanders and Predators. Six of those teams are currently in the top eight of their respective conferences while the Islanders and surging Lightning trail the Leafs by one point for the final wild card spot in the East. Their one game at a time approach over the last two months has benefited the Black and Gold, and certainly, their mindset won’t be changing during these next 14 days.
Taking care of business against the lowly Canucks – who gave the Bruins all they could handle through the first two periods – was a good start for Cassidy and company.
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