By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Following Wednesday night’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden to the St. Louis Blues, slumping Bruins forward Brad Marchand had this to say about the way he played in the overall lackluster performance by his club. “Personally, I wasn’t good the last two games, so, you know, we can’t be playing like that.”
To say he hasn’t been good is being too kind. Frankly, he has been a liability since this series began on the evening of Memorial Day.
His decision not to backcheck left an ancient Zdeno Chara exposed to a two on one and despite a nifty initial stick block on Vladimir Tarasenko shot by the B’s captain, the Blues forward deposited the rebound behind Tuukka Rask to tie the game at two apiece.
And while Marchand hasn’t been the only member of what has been the best line in hockey over the past two seasons – both Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak haven’t made the scoresheet in the first two contests, with Marchand’s empty-net goal in Game 1 representing the only point posted by the trio – the Little Ball of Great’s insistence on making an extra pass instead of shooting and then overcompensating and trying to stickhandle past multiple defenders has been a major reason why the Bruins top line has been a bust so far in this series.
As for Bergeron, he’s confident that the group that tallied 106 goals in the regular season and 23 so far in this run to the Final, will be just fine.
“I think we obviously have to respond from [Game 2]. It’s always about what’s in front of you. Whatever is behind is in the past. You have no control over it.”
The four-time Selke Award winner added, “I think when a game like that happens, you look at what you can improve, get better, and go back to what you know is successful for your team and you individually. That’s all. You just have to go out there and play your style, just worry about what we can really control.”
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was equally optimist about a turnaround in play from his most potent line stating, “I suspect in Game 3 we’ll see their best game of the series. That’s speculation, but I suspect that’s what will happen.”
It better and soon.
While it is true that it took overtime for the less skilled Blues team to beat a Bruins team that was far from their best in Game 2, the fact is that they found a way to win. And instead of taking a stranglehold of the series, the Black and Gold put it into cruise control with Marchand being the one who seemingly hit the button the hardest.
It is easy to argue that Marchand has been the B’s best player this season. He reached the 100 point plateau for the first time in his career and despite being able to completely bury his rat-like tendencies, he’s become a star in the NHL, to the dismay of many.
“We’re 1-1, there’s five games left, and, you know, that’s what makes the Stanley Cup Final fun,” the Bruins leading scorer in the postseason said when asked if he was concerned about the play of the top line so far in the series.
If he doesn’t offer a better answer on the ice when the puck drops for Game 3 in St. Louis on Saturday night, this Final might not be as fun as he thinks it will be.