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Andy Brickley on M&M: Brad Marchand ‘overthinking it right now’

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the most recent questionable play by Brad Marchand [1].

Marchand, the controversial B’s winger, was penalized two minutes for boarding after hitting Sean Monahan in Tuesday’s win over the Flames. Calgary [2]‘s Curtis Glencross called it a “dirty hit” by a “dirty player.” [3]

“Yeah, it’s a bad hit. He’s looking right at Monahan’s numbers,” Brickley said. “If you ask Brad, he’ll tell you he thought it was just a little forceful push and not heavy body contact. But it’s still on the numbers, on a guy that — he knew Marchand was there. When you watch the replay, he take a look over his left shoulder, which is the right thing to do for Monahan; you want to survey what’s going on around you. That puck’s not going anywhere, so you take a look to see what’s going on behind you and left and right and then make your play. So, he knew Marchand was right there, and Marchand decided to give him that little extra forearm shiver/push/hit, whatever you want to describe it.

“That’s a two-minute penalty for boarding. It’s a good call. It’s a bad penalty to take. It’s a bad timely penalty to take. And I just think it’s part of what’s going on with Marchand right now, that he’s trying to figure his game out and he’s overthinking it right now. He’s just got to go out and read and react, play the game. But the hard part for him is he needs to play on the edge in order to be the most effective player he can.”

Regarding the possibility of benching Marchand, Brickley said that’s not likely considering the number of injuries among the team.

“They’re just so short on numbers right now; what are their options?” Brickley said. “If they wanted to reduce his ice time, if they wanted to — like they did with Milan Lucic [4] late in the year last year, make him a healthy scratch so he gets up on [TD Garden Level] 9 and takes a look at things and realizes there’s a lot more he could be doing.

“One of the things that jump out at you when you watch Marchand play, when he’s playing well — and it could be at any time during the game, he could have six, seven real good shifts in the course of a 20-shift night where he’s really, really effective, and he’s using his feet, and he’s skating, he attacks the offensive zone, he backs the D off then he curls up and he looks for a guy coming late. But what he’s doing right now, even when he makes a good play, he stops skating. And when you stop skating, that tells you you’re overthinking it. And when you start to overthink it, now you just don’t play the game in rhythm and you just don’t do things naturally.

“And I think that’s what they’re trying to educate him on and remind him of, that’s the way you need to play. Because when you get into that no-man’s land, you’re not the player you’re going to be. But what are your options in order to get that message across? Right now, because they are just so shorthanded, they need Brad Marchand [5] and they need him to play to his capabilities or somewhere close to that in order to be effective. Because they need to win and they need to put up points.
And he’s still probably your best option, even though you might want to try to do something else to get further attention.”

Added Brickley: “Claude [Julien] certainly with his staff has been able to push a lot of the right buttons over the last several years to get what they want in terms of results from certain players. And Brad’s in that boat right now. He can be such an important player, an effective player, a productive player. And you have these kinds of stretches in your career, he’s going through it right now. He’s man enough to say, ‘You know, I’m not playing the way I can, I need to be better.’ He’s trying to figure it out as well.”

The other big story around the Bruins this week is Shawn Thornton [6]‘s 15-game suspension for his attack on Penguins [7] defenseman Brooks Orpik in a Dec. 7 game. Thornton is appealing the ruling by the NHL [8].

“I thought it was a little excessive,” Brickley said. “I expected double figures. I thought it would be closer to 10 than it would be 15. That’s their decision. I’ll be curious to see how this goes. The cynic in me says if there was a deal in place already — ‘We’re going to give you 15, Shawn, we know you think it’s too much, you have the right to appeal’ — I can’t see the appeal, unless there was already a deal in place, I can’t see the appeal going the way of Shawn Thornton [9]. I don’t see [Gary] Bettman coming off the 15. Then the question becomes do you go to an independent arbiter after that. I don’t think it’s headed in that direction, but there’s always that possibility.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page [10]. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins [11].