Up and down the wing
Highs, lows for callup Marchand
When the Bruins recalled Brad Marchand from Providence Oct. 18, they knew they’d be getting a hard-nosed energy wing with a good amount of skill - he has an above-average release and some weight to his shot - to complement his speed and grit. They also knew that, given the nature of NHL rookies, Marchand would have his peaks and valleys.
So far, they’ve been correct on all counts.
Coach Claude Julien has thrown Marchand right into the big-league mix for five games. In every game, Marchand has skated alongside Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder on the team’s No. 1 line, which also has doubled as a matchup threesome against opposing snipers. The Bruins have been encouraged by stretches of Marchand’s play. But they’ve also been keeping close watch on the left wing to make sure he doesn’t become overwhelmed.
“You try not to give him too much at first,’’ Julien said. “We know that Brad’s got a pretty good shot. Could he be on the power play? Maybe. But at the same time, I think he’s got a lot to chew on right now.
“My chat that I’ve had with him so far is that I don’t think he has to worry about his skating. I don’t think he has to worry about his shot being NHL-caliber. What he has to worry about is that the little things you can get away with in the American League, the ones that you can’t get away with up here, will end up costing you goals.
“We’ve got a few of those examples, and we’ve been showing him those kinds of things. It’s important for him to understand that it’s those little things at this level that make a difference. That’s how you help a young player grow into a role.
“He’s been pretty good. The mistakes he’s made have not been for a lack of effort, but probably lack of experience in this league. You get that experience from playing. We have to sometimes sacrifice that for the sake of a player getting better.’’
Marchand was a top-line player in Providence (he skated with Zach Hamill and Vladimir Sobotka) prior to his recall. In six AHL games this season, Marchand had led the P-Bruins with six goals.
Marchand projects to be a bottom-six NHL forward, but because of Milan Lucic’s broken finger, the big club needed him to assume a greater role when he was recalled. In his NHL debut, Marchand created a turnover and set up a Ryder goal against Nashville Oct. 21.
But Marchand has also made the expected rookie mistakes. Against New Jersey last Thursday, he tried to throw a big hit and almost ended up in the Bruins bench. Marchand also had trouble clearing the puck on several occasions.
“In the American League, junior, and college, at points you can coast around and take shifts off,’’ Marchand said. “Up here, you can’t do that. One shift in every game can cost you a couple points.
“But I’ve felt more comfortable with the puck. I’m trying to hold onto the puck a little longer and trying to do some other things.’’
“It felt a little tiring,’’ Pisani said. “It was a pretty high-tempo game. I think I got better as the game went on and my legs got under me a bit. It’s always tough to play that tempo after a little while out.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.