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The Mass Media

Brad Marchand putting together an MVP-caliber season for the Bruins

Brad+Marchand+of+the+Boston+Bruins.

Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins.

When the abbreviated 2020-2021 NHL season began back in January, many people doubted whether or not Boston Bruins star winger Brad Marchand would even be on the active roster to begin the season, as he was still recovering from offseason hernia surgery. However, Marchand made significant progress in training camp, and he was able to begin the season with the rest of the team in New Jersey on Jan. 14.

With the NHL’s leading goal-scorer from the previous season, David Pastrnak, sidelined by injury, Marchand stepped up for his team. The Bruins had an NHL-best 10–1–2 record through their first 13 games. Marchand became the preeminent scorer for the Bruins, leading the team in virtually every offensive category. As of writing this article, Marchand is tied with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the consensus best hockey player on the planet, for third in the league for goals, with 25 goals each. Marchand averages a stellar 1.36 points per game, sixth in the league among qualified players.

Despite their stellar start, the Bruins had many road bumps as the season went along, as they fell from first to fourth in the East Division. The team had its season temporarily paused in February due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their facility (Marchand missed two games due to a false positive test). Despite all of that adversity, Marchand has continued to show his value to the team. He has continued to produce with his linemates Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, forming what has arguably been the best line in hockey for the last few years.

But Marchand’s contributions go beyond offense. He is a plus 22 this year, suggesting stellar play at both ends of the ice. Marchand is also an effective special teamer, scoring on the power-play at a prodigious rate, and being a very effective penalty-killer and shorthanded threat with his longtime battery mate Bergeron. Marchand has 12 assists on the power play, often setting up Pastrnak and Bergeron for chances with the man advantage. Marchand has three shorthanded goals on the year, including a game-winner against Philadelphia on April 6 that gave rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman his first NHL victory.

Marchand also impresses in hockey’s advanced metrics. He has a 59.9 Corsi For Percentage (total number of shot attempts on the ice by both teams; higher individual percentages suggests the team is controlling the pace of play while said player is on the ice). He has a 60.4 Fenwick Percentage (Like Corsi, but only for unblocked shot attempts). Marchand has always been known to be a good two-way player for the Bruins over the course of his decade-plus career, but he has really grown into one of the preeminent skaters in the league the last few seasons.

Will Marchand win the Hart Trophy, the NHL’s equivalent of the Most Valuable Player Award? Probably not. He’s not as well-known or highly regarded as some of the other candidates, such as the aforementioned McDavid, Toronto’s Auston Matthews or Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. But he has proven time and again what an invaluable asset he is to his team. Without him, Boston would likely not be the playoff team they currently are. As of this writing, the Bruins are four points ahead of the New York Rangers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East. Without Marchand, the Bruins would likely be on the outside looking in.
 

About the Contributor
Jack Sherman, Sports Writer