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Marchand sits down, does some thinking

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / January 11, 2012
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The way Brad Marchand pleaded his case with Brendan Shanahan Monday, he went low on Vancouver’s Sami Salo during Saturday’s 4-3 loss to protect himself from an impending collision.

Because the NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations saw it otherwise, smacking the Bruins left wing with a five-game suspension, Marchand must eliminate such maneuvers.

“It’s clear that I’m not allowed to do that,’’ said Marchand. “Guys in the league aren’t allowed to do that. I think they’ve tried to make that clear. I have to do something else next time.’’

Marchand began serving his suspension last night. He will be eligible to return Jan. 19 against New Jersey.

Marchand contends that he didn’t hit Salo at or below the knees.

“We felt it was very clear in the video that I got him right under the buttocks,’’ Marchand said. “It seems very clear in the video that was the case. Maybe [Shanahan] viewed it differently. At the end of the day, he makes the call.’’

Earlier this season, Marchand spoke with Shanahan to seek clarity regarding low-bridge hits. According to Marchand, Shanahan told him that such hits, in cases of self-protection, were acceptable. In his explanation of the suspension, Shanahan noted that Marchand threw a predatory hit.

Salo didn’t play Monday against Florida because of a concussion, and his status is unclear. His injury and Marchand’s discipline history were considered in the suspension. Marchand was fined $2,500 earlier this year for slew-footing Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen. Marchand was suspended for two games last year for elbowing Columbus’s R.J. Umberger in the back of the head.

Marchand’s actions Saturday led to two power-play goals, including the game-winner. His suspension leaves the Bruins without their No. 1 left wing for five conference games.

Marchand has 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points, which is tied with Milan Lucic for third on the team behind linemates Tyler Seguin (38) and Patrice Bergeron (36). Marchand is averaging 16:58 of ice time per game, which entering last night was third among forwards after Bergeron (18:29) and David Krejci (18:00). Marchand kills penalties regularly alongside Bergeron.

“He’s not hiding behind the facts and saying, ‘I don’t do anything wrong.’ He knows the referees watch him closely,’’ said coach Claude Julien.

“At the same time, we know that his playing on the edge is what makes him a good player. We’ve got to work with him, not against him. We’ve got to help him make sure his game is fine-tuned to the point where those things happen less and less.

“You don’t want to be a repeat offender. At the same time, the way things are going now, I think everybody’s going to be a repeat offender.’’

Pouliot steps in

In last night’s 5-3 win over Winnipeg, Benoit Pouliot replaced Marchand alongside Bergeron and Seguin. If Pouliot, who had a goal and is at 8-7-15, continues to produce, he will remain there during Marchand’s absence.

“He plays well with those two guys,’’ Julien said. “He’s a player, from Day 1 to now, who has improved a lot and fit in better. He’s done exactly what we were anticipating at the beginning when we said, ‘Let’s be patient with this guy. Let’s give him a chance.’ ’’

When Marchand was unavailable last Thursday against Calgary because of flulike symptoms, Pouliot played in his spot on the No. 1 line and recorded three assists in a 9-0 win.

Hamill back in

Zach Hamill, a healthy scratch in three of the last four games, was back in the lineup last night, centering Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley on the third line.

Hamill also saw shifts on the fourth line between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Hamill played 8:32, second-least among forwards behind Thornton (7:04).

Hamill must now clear waivers if he is assigned to Providence. Hamill, with the big club since Dec. 8, has surpassed the NHL’s 30-day recall limit. He could be with the Bruins for good because of the possibility of another team claiming him on waivers. His annual cap hit is approximately $1.3 million.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,’’ Hamill said of a demotion. “But I think I just come to the rink, practice or a game, and have the mentality of showing that I’m ready to play, I want to play, and I want to be here.’’

Agitating, aggravating

In Saturday’s game, Vancouver’s Alex Burrows helped trigger the first-period mayhem with a tap to Paille’s skate. Burrows followed that up with a stick aimed high on Thornton. Burrows was called for slashing and a 10-minute misconduct, while Thornton earned a double minor (roughing, slashing). The Canucks had a five-on-three power play after the melee.

“I think they’re overly protected, yes,’’ Thornton said of agitators such as Burrows. “I’ve always said that. At the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror. I have no problem doing that.

“It’s unfortunate that stuff happens, that people get away with stuff like that. We’re not immune to it, either. Everybody does it. But I think we’re the type of team that will back it up and stand up for ourselves.’’

Thornton believes that eliminating the instigator penalty could limit an agitator’s willingness to employ cheap stuff.

“It used to be that you were held accountable for your actions within the game,’’ Thornton said. “I don’t think there’s as much respect in the game as there needs to be.’’

Is that a threat?

Prior to Marchand’s suspension, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault mused that he could face future on-ice punishment from an angry opponent. “Marchand - this is just my feeling on this - some day he’s going to get it,’’ Vigneault told the Vancouver Province. “Somebody is going to say enough is enough and they’re going to hurt the kid. Because he plays to hurt players, and in my mind, if the league doesn’t take care of it, somebody else will.’’ Marchand had little to say about Vigneault’s words. “They are threatening,’’ he said. “It sounds like it’s a threat. Whatever.’’ . . . Krejci was 11 for 13 on faceoffs . . . Winnipeg was without Dustin Byfuglien (lower body), then lost Zach Bogosian in the second (lower body) . . . Steven Kampfer was the healthy scratch.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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