Marchand at his best when he’s being a pest
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It would be understandable if the Canucks — in a break from the soccer that clogged hallways before last night’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena — switched to darts, with a specific Bruin’s face receiving a place of honor on the board. Because even if Brad Marchand demurs, there is a reason the word pest keeps coming up in reference to the rookie.
Sure, that’s because of his two goals and one assist in the series entering last night. It’s also because the diminutive winger seemed to be in the middle of just about every pushing-and-shoving match in the first four games — and there were a lot of them.
“It seems like after every whistle there’s a scrum or every play there’s a lot of big body shots and a lot of contact,’’ Marchand said on Thursday. “I’m not under anyone’s skin, just there’s always scrums after the whistle and I get involved in them.’’
And while it might be irritating for his opponents, it’s endearing to his teammates. That’s exactly what they’d like to see from him. That, and more of the play that had him tied for the rookie club record for goals in a playoff year with eight.
“I played against him in the Memorial Cup in 2006, and it was the same thing, I wanted to kill him,’’ said Milan Lucic. “He’s always been a big-game player and a big team player. I think that’s why, as a teammate, you appreciate having him on your team because no matter what, he does what he does, but he’s always got his teammates’ back. I think that’s why we appreciate him on this team.’’
Like the three minor penalties (holding, tripping, roughing) he took at the end of Game 4 in Boston, after contact with Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin.
There were flying bodies and flying fists and, in the middle of everything, was the 5-foot-9-inch, 183-pound Marchand. It wasn’t a way to get the Canucks to like him, but it was absolutely a way to become indispensable to his teammates.
He has been humble, shaking off the praise and the comparisons to others of his type. As he said, “I think there’s maybe a little more spotlight in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m not trying to do anything differently. I just want to play my game, try to help the team any way I can.’’
He’s been helping in almost every way — whether or not he qualifies as a pest — fitting in perfectly with the image the Bruins are projecting in these playoffs, that of the blue-collar, emotional player, a player who competes against the more skilled and talented Canucks.
“I think every person has their own perception of the kind of player I am,’’ Marchand said. “But if you watch closely, if you sit there and watch me the whole game, I try and do certain things. It’s just how I am. I try and play a way to get my mind into the game. I’m not trying to play a certain way for any fan, just trying to do what gets me involved in the game. If people think I’m being a pest, people think I’m being a pest.’’
And while Marchand has nicknamed himself “Rat,’’ his teammates weren’t nearly as prepared to reveal the name they call him. As David Krejci said before last night’s game, “Next question, please.’’
“That’s funny. I like that name for him,’’ added Daniel Paille. “But he’s a confident guy and he’s been nothing but great for us this series. And hopefully we can get him to continue with that.’’