Brad Marchand’s page on HockeyFights.com is not terribly crowded. There are just a dozen videos if we give him the three from his AHL days in Providence, and they’re peppered with the sorts of phrases you’d expect for a 5-foot-9 gnat.
“Ever the agitator out there!”
“When you play the game on the edge …”
“The super pest.”
Lars Eller won’t get a quote in that list from Thursday, but he offered one anyway following the Washington victory at TD Garden, in which he tried and failed to return Marchand’s gift of a head punch bouquet from the season opener.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of integrity in his game,” he said.
A 10-year pro, Eller’s fight page has just one entry: Marchand, from last Oct. 3 and the last time before Thursday that his Capitals met the Bruins. Eller scored the seventh goal of what was only a metaphorical bloodbath before his celebration, which included a hand gesture he said was intended for teammates. Marchand believed Eller “took an angle in front of” the Bruins bench that was “unnecessary” and jumped him some three minutes later.
Considering Eller’s response that night to whether Marchand should be suspended — he wasn’t — included the phrase “I don’t really care … we play them two more times, so I can handle it myself,” it was a pretty safe bet the two would cross paths on Thursday. They did, with Washington up 1-0 eight minutes into the second period.
In a game with a playoff feel and the Bruins trying to end a 13-game losing skid to the Capitals, Marchand went limp, drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and earned a power play.
“I really don’t feel I need to try to prove anything,” Marchand said. “He plays maybe 10-12 minutes a night and I’m playing 20, so, in a 1-0 game, to go on the power play, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Whether you view it prudent or unprincipled may depend only on the color of your jersey and how many suspensions/lickings you remember, but it’s clear where the Capitals fall.
“He obviously didn’t want any part of it. Everybody saw,” said Eller, who for the record averages just shy of 17 minutes/game. “Can’t fight a guy that doesn’t want to fight. Everybody saw what he is. I mean, yeah. I don’t know what else to say. We got out of here with two points. We got what we wanted.”
“I was a little let down that Marchand didn’t drop his gloves since, the other way, Lars got jumped,” T.J. Oshie said. “But I don’t know the guy … you can kind of take away from that and speculate however you’d like.”
The teams play just once more this regular season: A national-TV game in Washington on Feb. 3, Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. In an extra chat with WEEI.com, Marchand made clear he won’t be foiling his knuckles for his Danish dance partner.
“I’m not even going to engage in this battle because it means absolutely nothing to me,” he said.