For the first half of the season, Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand continued to stake his claim as one of the best players in the game. For many Bruins fans, this was shaping up to be the year that Marchand would finally win the Hart Trophy as the MVP of the league. As the Bruins struggled with inconsistency for much of the first half, Marchand was the bright spot and the one player keeping the Bruins in playoff contention.
Marchand would serve a three-game suspension in November for a questionable slew foot of Vancouver Canucks’ defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That suspension would not slow Marchand down as he returned to score ten goals in the next nine games. After the first of the year, the rest of the team rose to Marchand’s level and won 13 of the next 15 games with the 33-year-old in the lineup.
But then, on January 10th in Washington, Marchand was injured his shoulder on what the team felt was a “cheap hit” by Garnet Hathaway. Marchand would not return to the game but would play the next game and record a hat trick against Montreal. The injury did not hinder the Halifax, Nova Scotia native going forward until there was a second suspension.
Marchand was suspended six games for an altercation with Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry in which Marchand hit Jarry up high and then put his stick in Jarry’s face in a game on February 8th in Boston. Due to the left wing’s suspension history, the punishment was stiff, and Marchand was out of the lineup again. Marchand would only score two goals after his return over the next ten games before finding another hot streak. All seemed fine with the Bruins and one of their top players.
But now, as the regular season draws to a close, the Bruins are just 5-5-0 in their last ten games. The team has been without top goal scorer David Pastrnak since the April 4th game against Columbus due to injury. This is a major reason why the power play is 0 for the last 25. Some of that ineptitude is on Brad Marchand as well. Over the previous seven games, Marchand has zero goals and two assists. But more alarming than that is his abundance of turnovers and careless puck possession. Typically one of the team’s best defenders, Marchand has also had uncharacteristic defensive lapses.
Could this be a slump that occurs now and then to even the best in the game? Sure. But here is another stat to consider. Marchand’s 13.9 shooting percentage is the lowest since 2012-13 in his career. This could be a perfect storm of a nagging injury plus seeing the best defensive lines against him while Pastrnak is not in the lineup. It could also be that Marchand is trying to hit as much as he did in a recent loss to St. Louis by turning the puck over just inside the Bruins’ offensive zone while trying to make a play that wasn’t there.
Whatever the reasons for Brad Marchand’s recent struggles, the Bruins desperately need arguably their best all-around player to get back to form if they are to make a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Marchand has seven more regular-season games to figure it out.