Anyone who has not been watching the Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals this season should tune in now. The series has been back and forth in the three games played thus far and each one has gone to extra time. Some of those overtime minutes could have been avoided with better play from Boston’s star left-wing Brad Marchand. This has nothing to do with his ability to score goals and generate offence. It comes down to his willingness to play disciplined hockey.
Careless Penalties by Brad Marchand May Cost Boston
Every game the Bruins have played in this series has gone to overtime. If that doesn’t tell you how evenly matched these two teams are, nothing will. They play fiercely and with an edge. There is a line, however, and Marchand likes to test just how far over it he can step. This is nothing new for Boston’s winger. He has a long, well-documented history of taking things too far. Those antics are detrimental to the team, now more than ever before.
A Change in Role
When Marchand first broke into the NHL, he needed to be a grinder. Boston needed a bottom-six guy who could get into it with the other team. His role has changed immensely since then. Now he is a bonafide top-line player the Bruins rely on to generate offence. After the Bruins exit from the postseason in 2018, head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke with Marchand about his style of play, and how it needed to change. It appears as if that conversation went in one ear and out the other.
What Has He Done This Time
The one positive for Capitals players is that they probably don’t have to worry about being licked like Leo Komarov or Ryan Callahan did. What they do have to worry about is being the punching bag for Marchand’s frustration. Early in the game, defenceman Brenden Dillon found himself on the wrong end of Marchand’s ire. Marchand punched Dillon in the groin as the two got up off the ice after a post-whistle scrum. It earned Marchand two minutes in the penalty box for roughing. That would not be his only incident of the night.
During the second period, Marchand one again got into it with a Capitals player. This time around, Anthony Mantha was the target. While this was more of a minor altercation, it was entirely avoidable. The two players could be seen conversing after the whistle (that may be a little too polite for what was probably said). The refs quickly separated the two of them before it could escalate beyond a couple of shoves.
But once again, Marchand had to be Marchand. He proceeded to skate over to Mantha and bop him on the head with his stick a few times. On the replay, it appeared to be a gentle tap, but with Marchand’s reputation, it earned him two more minutes for slashing. Boston was lucky that Mantha got two minutes as well and the powerplay was negated.
Why should Marchand’s antics stop after one game? Instead of playing a clean game, he decided the best course of action would be to get under Dillon’s skin again. He pulled a similar stunt to what he did with Mantha. He poked and prodded at Dillon with his stick. Again, it wasn’t very hard or malicious, but it was enough to earn him a penalty. Marchand received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty this time around.
Consequences for Actions
This isn’t the regular season anymore. Every loss is magnified in its importance. Brad Marchand has put his own team on the short end of the stick far too many times with careless penalties. His team-leading six penalty minutes this postseason could have been avoided entirely had he just played with a little bit of discipline.
Had Boston not had to worry about killing off penalties or dealing with other special teams scenarios due to Marchand’s penalties, who knows the outcome of these games. They have all come down to one goal scored in overtime thus far. If there was any series this postseason that could be defined by one bad penalty, it’s this one. The Bruins can ill afford more careless play from Marchand. They need him on the ice scoring goals, not sitting in the penalty box.