Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has developed a bit of a reputation over the years. Heck, even the Commander-in-Chief referred to Marchand as “the little ball of hate” when the Bruins visited the White House in 2012.
It’s not the history, but Marchand’s current reputation that concerns Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“[Marchand is] a competitive guy,” Cassidy said. “I think that narrative gets out there. Marchie had no penalty minutes in the playoffs before [Saturday] night. None. Zero. Leading scorer on our team. All of a sudden I’ve got people in the NHL [saying] ‘keep an eye on him.’ What are you talking about? Why are you going down this road on a guy who’s kept his nose clean?’
Marchand stayed out of the box for the first eight games of the postseason and nearly the entirety of the ninth, over a combined 195 minutes and 14 seconds of icetime. His lone penalty came in a scrum in Game 2 against the Blue Jackets for crosschecking center Alexandre Texier. Columbus scored with Marchand in the box.
Cassidy was critical of the call.
“I don’t like the penalty personally. Is it a crosscheck. Is it a scrum? Generally in a scrum, you take one from each side. They’ve got [Oliver Bjorkstrand] grabbing [Torey] Krug and obviously wants to get him off the ice for five minutes and the ref’s going to go and break them up.”
“I’ve got a bit of a problem with the treatment of Marchie with certain officials. [Referees for Game 2 were Marc Joannette and Tim Peel.] He’s earned obviously some of his reputation but not right now. He’s been clean all year. He’s been clean all playoffs. So I hope that would go away and I would hope the talk would just be about ‘Hey, he hasn’t scored in [three] games. What can we do to get him going there?’ … I think Marchie’s generated, they just haven’t gone in, so that would be my answer to that part of it. But anyway, here we are with March again, talking about him and his two penalty minutes in nine games.”
Marchand’s 96 penalty minutes in the regular season were a career high, besting his previous high of 95 in the 2014-15 campaign. Of course, Marchand also set personal bests in assists (64) and points (100) during the 2018-19 season.
Curiously, Sportnet’s Don Cherry talked about why Brad Marchand is taking so many penalties. Well, I suppose one is too many.
“[Marchand] makes everybody look bad,” said Cherry, arguing that the crosscheck call was a make-up call for the stick stomp. “This is a chintzy penalty. ‘Oh yeah? You did that before and made us look bad?’ You don’t fool with the referees!”
Saturday’s game also saw a pair of penalties called in overtime, both against the Bruins. While he agreed with the calls that were made, Cassidy felt another – on the Blue Jackets – may have been missed.
“I clearly thought Bergeron had a point blank chance when Atkinson’ stick is hooking him for three seconds. He whiffed on the first one because of it and then he got the second one off because he fought through it. To me, that’s a scoring chance, it’s an infraction, it’s a penalty, it was missed,” said Cassidy.
“Now, did we commit two fouls? Yup. We were called for them. We didn’t kill the second one and that’s your ballgame. That was my beef with that one. I thought they missed an obvious call. It happens. I’m sure their coach probably thought they missed some on them and off we go.”
“Did I think the officiating was poor? No. Not at all.”
Cassidy also addressed a recent non-call against Marchand, when he avoided a penalty for stomping on the stick of Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson.
“Atkinson, all he cared about was his 300 bucks [for his stick]. We can arrange that. He said it was a clever play, so the victim of this perpetrated crime is not really upset.
No penalty was called on the play. No word as to whether Atkinson was reimbursed for his damaged twig.