WILMINGTON — Count Brad Marchand among the large group of Bruins players who have gotten off to poor starts this season, as the second-year pest, who scored 21 goals as a rookie, has been awfully quiet of late.
Marchand scored the Bruins’ first goal of the season and had two assists in the team’s second game against the Lightning, but much like his team, his production has gone downhill since. The 23-year-old had a third-period goal in the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes on Oct. 12, but since then has been kept off the scoring sheet in the last six games.
After such a strong rookie campaign, Marchand said that the one area in which he was focused on improving was getting pucks to the net. He did a pretty good job of that in the early going (two or more shots on goal in the first eight games), but has put just one puck on net over the last two games.
Despite his lack of production and lack of effectively bugging the opponent, Marchand isn’t expressing much frustration with his own game yet.
“Sometimes you get more opportunities [in some games] than you do in different games, but I just want to keep working hard and continue to build confidence,” Marchand said. “Hopefully the goals will come.”
As for the lack of getting under opponents’ skin, Marchand admitted there hasn’t been as much jawing and egging on, but that it’s been by design.
“I’ve been trying to stay away from that stuff doing too much of that stuff this year and just worry about playing, but I think I’m going to have to get back to it so I can play the same way I did last year,” Marchand said.
That he’s cut back on being a nuisance at all is surprising. Much like Milan Lucic with fighting, it seems players abandoning one aspect of their game can hurt their overall impact. Marchand rose to stardom a season ago not just for his scoring, but his complete package of grit, penalty-killing and his ability to drive opponents crazy.
Marchand has remained with Patrice Bergeron on the second line throughout the season, the there’s been a revolving door for the line’s right wing. The line started with Rich Peverley in Mark Recchi‘s old spot, and had Nathan Horton for a bit before Claude Julien put Tyler Seguin on the line.
Marchand and Bergeron work well together, as they did last season following his promotion from the team’s first line, but the success hasn’t been there yet. The Nova Scotia native said Monday he hasn’t observed any real differences in how teams and referees approach him this year.
“Not really,” Marchand said. “Every time you play a team, they play you hard and play you strong. Usually, Bergie’s line’s playing against the top line on the other team and trying to shut them down. Playing against top guys, it’s a little tougher.”
There’s no denying Marchand doesn’t have the easiest job in the world, but he faced top lines last season as well. Whether this is some sort of sophomore slump or not, the B’s are obviously hoping for bigger and better things after giving him a two-year deal with $2.5 million per year.