WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand is a man of many names.
There’s his given name, Bradley. There’s Marshy. There’s “The Little Ball of Hate,” as he was called by President Obama. There’s The Brat, The Rat, The Baseball Bat (not really) and probably a dozen other things Marchand’s been called.
Marchand doesn’t care what you call him, just so long as you don’t call him a diver.
The 23-year-old pest has been critical of diving in the past, such as last year when he called out the Canadiens, but recently, it’s been Marchand who’s been accused of diving.
Marchand has been accused of trying to sell calls at points during the Bruins’ series with the Capitals’ series, such as in Game 3 after an elbow from Karl Alzner and in Game 6, when minimal contact was made between he and Jason Chimera in the Washington zone. Marchand fell to the ice, grabbing his face and Chimera went down the other end and scored. Replays showed that Marchand got himself in the face with his stick as he was going down, but the play drew heavy criticism of the second-year player.
“You don’t see the guy coming and you get clipped,” Marchand said Tuesday. “For them to judge what knocks you down, they don’t know your balance or whatnot on the play. They’re sitting at home watching on TV. I don’t really care what they say. They have no impact on my game, my life. They mean nothing.”
Marchand explained the play, which led the to Caps tying the game in the second period.
“I just got caught off guard, and I wasn’t really ready,” he said of why he stayed down. “I got hit in the mouth, and by the time I got up and I was getting back, they scored.”
The lesson may have been learned on Marchand’s part. Though there’s been inconsistency on the referees’ end when players have remained down during the series, Marchand says everyone needs to be prepared to finish the play if at all possible.
“In a situation like that, blowing down a play can result in a team scoring or not scoring,” he said. “At this point in the playoffs, the refs seem to let a lot go. The further you go, they let more and more go. You have to realize that and jet try to continue with the play.”
Marchand expressed no frustration with the fact that he didn’t get a whistle before Chimera scored. Though the Capitals got whistles earlier in the series when their players went down, the Bruins had seen enough proof — such as Zdeno Chara staying down late in the first period of Game 5 — that team’s can’t bank on those calls.
“There are different refs every night, depending on the game,” Marchand said. “You can’t really blame the inconsistency on the refs. They’re all different. Maybe if you had the same one every night, but that’s not the case. We just have to try to find out how the refs are calling it and play within the rules.”
In Wednesday night’s Game 7, it goes without saying that there will be little-to-no margin for error. If a guy stays down on the ice, not only may he cost his team a goal, but the chances may be slimmer that he even gets a call. If the two defensive-minded teams are playing as tight and carefully as they’d like, the refs may be less inclined to influence the game with penalties.
“You see it every year,” Marchand said. “Last year against Tampa, I don’t think there was one penalty all game. You never really know how it’s going to get called. There could be a bunch and there could be none. We just have to play between the whistles hard and leave your best effort on the ice.”