Brad Marchand’s dirty reputation has always clouded his image as a player. That has all changed in his 2016 campaign.
His incredible ability to get under Bruins opponents skin has been one of the trademarks of his career. Marchand has been the type of player that enrages the other team, distracts them from their game. Older Bruins fans would compare him to Ken Linseman. Linseman worked hard to earn his nickname “The Rat.” Both players played on Causeway Street and had reputations as dirty yet effective players. Marchand has become known by a variety of names but most notably “Rat Face.” The amount of dirty plays and questionable hits that he has been involved in during his career are innumerable. Perhaps his most notably the upending of Daniel Sedin during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Marchand was already having a strong 2015/16 season until he decided to take out Borowiecki before the Winter Classic. The play would rightfully earn a suspension and he would not play in Foxboro. It certainly didn’t help the Bruins are they were helplessly thumped by the Canadiens 5-1. It was another case of Marchand’s lack of judgment hurting himself and his team. They were embarrassed in the NHL’s biggest event of the season. Some became convinced that you simply have to take him as he is. A talented player that struggled to take his game to the next level because of his own antics.
However, clearly something clicked for Rat Face. Missing the Winter Classic might have been the final straw for him. Marchand may have finally realized that his days spent solely as a pest are over. The comic routine of torturing opposing teams and pestering them was overdone. It was hurting his own game and holding back his development as a player.
Repeat after me: “Brad Marchand is currently a top scorer in the NHL.”
Wait what? Personally, I remain just as shocked as the next guy. Before this season, his highest goal total was 28. With 23 games remaining in the season he is sitting at the 30 goal mark- an incredible accomplishment. He is tied for 4th overall in goals scored with Jamie Benn. He has scored one less goal than his former teammate Tyler Seguin. He only sits 5 goals behind the incredible Patrick Kane. Marchand has a shot to reach 40 goals before the season is over. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down either. In the month of February, he has scored in 8 of 10 games.
Marchand has transformed himself into a core member of the Bruins roster. As a third round pick he is now producing at one of the best rates of any Bruin in recent memory. The last suspension may have been exactly what the Bruins and Marchand needed. He seems to be more focused and stronger than ever. His ability to score clutch goals while stirring the other team’s emotions into a frenzy offers a very unique skill set to the Bruins. Marchand has developed far beyond his role on the 2010/11 roster on the Merlot Line.
The 2015/16 season might be a glimpse into the future of Marchand. A more focused player that brings a ton of production while still offering nastiness when it’s needed. Hopefully for Boston fans it is not just an anomaly in his career and is something that’s sustained consistently. In a season where the Bruins are still looking to develop their future identity, Marchand is proving himself to be one of their best players and perhaps a member of their core for years to come.