From the naked eye, Brad Marchand hasn’t lost much of a step since returning from double-hip surgery.
Especially over the last few weeks amid his increased scoring production.
Marchand has notched at least one point in all but one of Boston’s seven tilts since its holiday break. He carries a three-game goal streak ahead of Thursday’s tilt with the red-hot Seattle Kraken.
Amid the top-notch production, the ever-competitive Marchand still feels he has another level to reach. After all, he’s still adjusting to his new-found mobility from his off-season repairs.
“It’s getting there. I’m not there exactly yet, but it’s coming,” Marchand said following Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I feel better. I feel more confident like I have better conditioning right now. It’s going to be a process, but it will come slowly but surely.”
Marchand missed the first eight games of the season. Despite that, the second-longest tenured Bruin sits second on the team in scoring with 37 points in 32 tilts.
He’s still attempting to find his pre-surgery rhythm. Perhaps the rest from the three-day holiday break benefitted Marchand. After all, he’s looking more like the speedy and assertive top-line winger from previous seasons.
Ideally, Marchand hopes to reach full mobility with his new hips before the postseason. Given his recent three-game stretch in California, he could very well reach that threshold during the home stretch.
“[I’m] more trying to peak for playoffs than anything, and that was the goal from the start of the year,” Marchand added. “So, hopefully, that will happen.”
The Bruins not only survived without Marchand. They thrived.
Because of that hot 7-1 run before his season debut, the Bruins didn’t need to rely heavily on Marchand’s production. Their scoring depth’s sustainability continued in Marchand’s return with all four lines producing timely offense.
Marchand and company encountered their first stiff injury test after the Bruins placed Jake DeBrusk on LTIR following his clutch two-goal outing at the Winter Classic. They passed their first test without DeBrusk out in California, with Marchand, David Pastrnak, Trent Frederic, Craig Smith and more notching timely markers during Boston’s sweep of the Golden State.
Over the last seven games, head coach Jim Montgomery believes Marchand has stood out among his deep forward core. And it could become a matter of time before the 34-year-old winger reaches, or even surpasses, his stellar explosive form.
“I just think that he’s getting comfortable with his new body post-surgery,” Boston’s All-Star bound bench boss said of Marchand. “I think we’ve talked about it for a long time, that once he gets his normal rhythm back and he understands his body again — what he can and cannot do — then the conditioning comes and we were going to see the dynamite player he’s always been. And right now… since Christmas, I think he’s been our best player.”
Marchand may need a little extra time to hit his stride. But he’s still providing timely energy when the Bruins need it, especially during their recent California swing.
A visibly peeved Marchand put the team on his back in Los Angeles last week following a missed tripping call.
After serving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following that sequence, Marchand put the Bruins ahead for good in the second period with his 11th goal of the season, scoring a mere 2:21 after David Pastrnak notched the tying marker.
That trend continued in Anaheim a few nights later following a center-ice altercation with Trevor Zegras. Marchand took exception to Zegras’ heated exchange with Frederic shortly after the talented Ducks forward cut Boston’s lead to 2-1 late in the opening stanza.
The Bruins didn’t miss a beat following Marchand’s leadership. Pastrnak completed his hat trick during the middle frame, and Marchand cashed in for one of Boston’s three insurance tallies in the third to cap off the 7-1 rout at “Garden West.”
Indeed, the California trip provided vintage Brad Marchand moments as the Bruins’ top-line left-winger inches closer to reaping the benefits from that needed summer operation.
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